Citizens United prepared for another fundraising case

Reaction to Thursday's unveiling of legislation to increase disclosure in political advertising in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling in January was mixed, but the plaintiff in the case is leaving the door open for more court action.

The bill, crafted by Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, would require CEOs of corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to disclose their spending in political advertisements.

Citizens United spokesman Will Holley said the organization was still examining the legislation, but the group would challenge the measure in court if "[we] feel it infringes on our First Amendment rights."

Citizens United President David Bossie said in a statement the bill "would force groups of modest means like Citizens United to spend thousands of dollars of donor money on a battery of attorneys and accountants. This is precisely what the Supreme Court ... sought to avoid."

Jeff Patch, spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics, said his group "will certainly be among the groups challenging this legislation in court, probably at the amicus level."

Conservative groups have slammed the bill as chilling free speech. The court ruled that corporate spending on independent broadcasts could not be limited.

Schumer said earlier Thursday that the bill would level the playing field by not allowing corporations and unions to influence elections more than average citizens. He singled out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a group that corporations anonymously funnel money to for ads.

Chamber President Tom Donohue called the bill "an abuse of the legislative process and unconstitutional."

Left-leaning groups said the bill needs to go even further. Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said the bill needs protections for investors and retirees to have a say in how corporations spend pension and 401(k) funds on politics, and contended the measure does not protect workers from retaliation.

"Can they say 'no,' without fear of reprisal, when their boss tells them to hand out campaign flyers in front of the office?" Burger asked.

Although the House version of the bill attracted GOP Reps. Michael Castle of Delaware and Walter Jones of North Carolina, Republican leaders bashed the bill.

"I find it interesting that Democrats here in Congress have chosen the heads of their two campaign committees to drive this process, to stifle speech in America," said House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. Schumer is a former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price of Georgia accused Democrats of writing the bill "behind closed doors."

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., however, noted the bill had bipartisan sponsorship and said he hopes "more Republicans will join Democrats in supporting transparency and accountability in political campaigns when it comes to the House floor for a vote."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.