www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Green fields in northwest Kansas -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Consolidation by starvation -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

School mergers tricky -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Hotel tipping -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Abuse video revealed nothing we didn't know -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

Lessons from 13 years ago -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

The zero option -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Why branding ISIS matters -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

School efficiency -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Favors and loot for sale -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

The 'college experience' -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Ellis schools -9/11/2014, 10:10 AM

Hold on, Mr. President -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The best bathroom -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The day the world stood still -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

No one can play your part -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Playing candidate dress-up -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Congress at work -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Schmidt is the answer -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

The liabilities of cannabis use -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Downtown decision -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Why are red states so far behind? -9/8/2014, 9:20 AM

Taylor's next move -9/5/2014, 10:16 AM

Consider trees to spruce up yard -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Washington takes action to reform VA -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Umbehr stands out -9/4/2014, 12:25 PM

Leadership education -- it's not a scam -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

Not supporting Brownback's re-election -9/4/2014, 12:23 PM

A fair fair debate -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Suicide in today's age -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Regulation overreach -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Sharpton, Kobach's common ground -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

In charge of all -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Pocket-book debate? -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Educating voters on education -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

Crazy election season in Kansas -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

An erosion of authenticity -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Blasphemy, free speech and the 'black mass' -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Labor Day -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Flexing muscles -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Blacks must confront reality -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

The leadership scam -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Green monster -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

The resurrection of Rick Perry -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Senate campaign -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Right to be heard? -8/26/2014, 10:08 AM

Over-covering Ferguson -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

Figuring out the tax debate -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

An obvious ploy -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Not-so-beautiful sunset -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Cannabis therapy -- Why bother? -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Business climate of Kansas -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

James Foley: Courage in the face of danger -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Festering wound -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Big banks settling -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Tuition pays for this -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

College textbook scam -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Policing a riot -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Evil strikes back -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Art appreciation -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Abuse of power -8/20/2014, 8:22 AM

Ferguson police arrest reporters for reporting -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Don't 'got milk' -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Another road map to success? -8/19/2014, 10:05 AM

It's the abuse of power, stupid -8/19/2014, 10:04 AM

Riots in Ferguson, and what they mean -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

One of billions -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

The GOP presents: Barack-nado -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Media and Missouri: What's going on? -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Answer the bell -8/15/2014, 8:58 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

True effect of big campaign spending unclear

Published on -11/13/2012, 10:00 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

There's one result from the election we likely won't know for months or even years: the full meaning of this year's massive run-up in campaign spending.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010, freed corporations, unions and others to spend as much on elections as they wish -- setting up the circumstances for the financial version of Superstorm Sandy in this year's races.

The court voted 5-4 that limits on corporate spending violated First Amendment political free-speech rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said there was "no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers."

The decision was attacked immediately by a variety of public-interest groups that advocate changing how campaigns are financed.

And just days after the ruling -- with several justices sitting in front of him -- President Obama used his State of the Union address to call for bipartisan congressional action to roll back the decision.

"Last week," Obama said, "the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests ... to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests."

No legislation made it to Obama's desk, but the "open floodgate" forecast proved accurate.

An Oct. 31 report in the Huffington Post said that in 2008, the Obama and McCain campaigns spent more than $1 billion. This year, the posting said, expenditures by the two major campaigns "have already sailed past the $2 billion mark."

The day before the Nov. 6 election, National Public Radio said a report by the Center for Responsive Politics "places the total cost of the 2012 elections at an estimated $6 billion, which would make it the most expensive election in U.S. history."

Two days after the voting, the New York Times opined that although the outpouring of cash reshaped the GOP nomination race, and shored up some Republican incumbents, "the prize most sought by the emerging class of mega-donors remained outside their grasp."

And the Huffington Post noted Wednesday an outcome from Citizens United that had not gotten much attention: "Organized labor's larger contribution this election may have been its outreach to non-union voters, something that wasn't possible until the legal changes" resulting from the ruling. Union volunteers now were free to "knock on the doors of non-members for the first time, vastly expanding organized labor's canvassing and get-out-the-vote operations," the report said.

A major question looking ahead is whether so-called mega-donors will be willing in upcoming races to spend such massive sums that might well have canceled each other out or proved ineffective.

Linda McMahon, a former pro-wrestling executive, reportedly has spent nearly $100 million of her own funds in twice failing to win a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent "tens of millions" of dollars in support of eight candidates, through contributions to political action committees, the New York Times reported. None of the eight was elected Nov. 6.

The ongoing national discussion about balancing First Amendment concerns against worries about the supposed negative influence of massive spending and contributions will include:

* Lawmakers revisiting the century-old idea of corporations as "persons" having various legal rights including freedom of speech, with ramifications beyond campaign spending, possibly even into criminal law.

* Accurately assessing whether the uptick in spending in state and federal elections really altered outcomes, particularly in the final stages of campaigns where it might have provided one candidate with a late advantage.

* Transparency in identifying donors that could undermine the long-held right to anonymous speech, which stretches back to the nation's founding.

* An Obama administration decision about continuing to support moves to reverse Citizens United given the apparent benefit of new levels of support by groups such as unions that typically favor Democrats.

Finding the right speech-spending balance also pits two core principles against each other: full exercise of Americans' protected right to speak loudly on politics and public issues, vs. negating the corrupting influence in elections and government policy that may accompany the presence of "big money."

The results are still out on all of those 2012 election-night questions.

Gene Policinski is senior vice president and executive director of the Washington-based First Amendment Center. gpolicinski@fac.org

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.