Bullock Leads State Attorneys General in Asking Supreme Court to Keep Corporate Money Out of Political Campaigns
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday urging them to uphold current laws and previous court rulings that strictly limit the funneling of corporate dollars into political campaigns.
Bullock’s friend of the court brief, filed today in the nation’s highest court, comes in advance of oral arguments scheduled for early September in the case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Twenty-five of Bullock’s counterparts from around the country have joined him in filing the brief.
Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group, has sought exemptions to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold — which prohibits corporate funds from being used to elect or defeat a particular candidate in the weeks before an election. The exemptions were denied by the FEC and their electioneering was prohibited.
Montana and 23 other states have state-level statutes that limit or prohibit corporations from advocating for or against a candidate for public office. Like Montana, which passed a citizen initiative banning corporate campaigning in 1912, most of these states have had similar laws on the books for nearly a century.
In his brief, Bullock writes “corporate electioneering corrupts the relationship between public officials and the public interest by encouraging political dependence on narrowly concentrated private interests.”
The brief also notes that corporate executives and employees are free to use their own money for campaign advocacy on behalf of the corporation through a Political Action Committee, but they’re prohibited from using shareholder money from the corporate treasury.
Bullock was joined by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goodard in writing the brief.The attorneys general of the following states also signed on: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia.
A three-judge panel of the Federal District Court has already sided with the FEC.The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to re-hear oral arguments on September 9.