Batten Down the Hatches: Supreme Court Opens Floodgates for Corporate Spending in Elections

Jan 21, 2010, 16:20 ET from Change to Win

Americans deserve accountability, transparency and ethical standards for corporate electoral activity in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, says Change to Win Chair Anna Burger

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win and Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, released the following statement condemning today's United States Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

"Today the US Supreme Court lifted the floodgates and started dismantling century-old restrictions on corporate electoral activity in the name of the 'free speech rights' of corporations—meaning if you are a 'corporate person' (aka a CEO or corporate official), you are now free to hit the corporate ATM and spend whatever of your shareholders' money it takes to elect the candidates of your choice.

"Unlimited corporate spending in federal elections threatens to drown out the voices of the people who should really be at the center of the political process, i.e., voters and candidates.  Unleashing corporate spending will only serve to distort and ultimately delegitimize the electoral process.  

"Let's be clear: corporations have already been shilling out a lot of cash for political activities, letting their shareholders and managerial employees know exactly which candidates they want to win or lose elections and paying heavy sums for attack ads, direct mail and other forms of public communication through PACs.

"But with today's Citizens United decision, the Court has given corporate managers the green light to bypass the checks and balances, use unlimited amounts from the general treasury—funds that should be used to increase the value of the business or pay dividends to shareholders—to instead pay for public communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of the candidates of their choice.  

"Our democratic process was meant to protect the people not profit margins and today's decision makes the need for an effective system for public funding, effective disclosure regulations, and other reforms of federal elections all the more pressing.  

"We look forward to working with concerned individuals, officials and groups to remedy to the greatest degree possible the unfortunate consequences of this Supreme Court decision, through legislation and other appropriate means."

Change to Win is a 5.5-million member partnership of five unions founded in 2005 to represent workers in the industries and occupations of the 21st century economy. Change to Win is committed to restoring the American Dream for a new generation of workers – wages that can support a family, affordable health care, a secure retirement, and the opportunity for the future. The affiliated unions are: Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers' International Union of North America, and United Farm Workers of America.

SOURCE Change to Win