For those of you keeping score at home, it’s now Citizens United 2, Democracy 0. The Federal Election Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to give Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group based in Virginia, an exemption to campaign finance requirements. If you remember, in January, Citizens United won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that gave corporations the right to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence our elections.
However, that court victory came with an *asterisk. Citizens United, and other corporations, could spend the dough but they would still have to disclose where their money was coming from i.e. the names of its donors, and how it was spending its money. As I blogged in April, Citizens United argued that since it produced “documentary” films, it should be considered a media company and exempt from disclosure requirements. This is the case for companies such as the New York Times, Washington Post and FOX News etc, which can produce opinion pieces about candidates and issues without having to fill out campaign finance forms.
SCOTUSblog has more about the FEC’s decision.