Moral Low Ground

US Government

Because ‘Citizens United’ Just Isn’t Enough: Republican National Committee Seeks to End Ban on Direct Corporate Political Contributions

You’d think that corporations would be basking in the glory days of the Citizens United era. That odious Supreme Court ruling, nearly two years old now, declared that corporations are people, money is free speech and therefore corporations could spend as much money as they pleased to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. Widely hailed as a nail in the coffin of American democracy as we know it, Citizens United paved the way for an unprecedented corporate spending spree during the 2010 midterm elections. The corporate takeover of our political process has become reality.

But for some, Citizens United doesn’t go far enough. That’s because direct corporate donations to policial candidates and parties are still banned under a century-old anti-corruption law, the Tillman Act of 1907. That piece of legislation was enacted at the tail end of an era known for rampant greed and corporate monopolies, during a period when Americans were fed up with the enormous power wielded by plutocrats and the special interests that served them.

Many would argue that such a curb on corporate power is equally necessary today, but instead things seem to be moving in the other direction.

Not content with having to donate unlimited amounts of money through nominally independent super PACs, the Republican National Committee, which plans and promotes the GOP’s agenda and coordinates fundraising for the party, is fighting to strike down the Tillman Act. According to the Huffington Post, the RNC filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense, ironically, of two Virginia Democrats charged with reimbursing donors to Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.

The brief states that the Tillman Act “artificially disadvantages political party and candidate committees by forcing them to rely on aggregating small-dollar donations from individuals while allowing other political actors, such as independent-expenditure-only political action committees, to receive unlimited corporate donations.”

This is a shockingly brazen attempt to inject even more corporate cash into the political process.

“It’s remarkable that the Republican Party is publicly taking the position that there’s not enough corporate money in politics,” Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal group People for the American Way, told the Huffington Post. “It’s amazing.”

If the RNC gets its way and the Tillman Act becomes a casualty of the corporate takeover of America, companies will still be bound to the same donor limits as flesh-and-blood people. But unlike humans, corporations can be easily created in order to exceed those limits.

The RNC position has been embraced by many conservatives, including GOP presidential front runner Mitt Romney, who last week told the Wall Street Journal that “we really ought to let campaigns raise the money they need and just get rid of these super PACs.”

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