Washington, D.C. — The past month marked the unhappy fourth birthday of Citizens United, and while corporations and well-connected megadonors celebrated the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for them to spend unlimited sums of money on politics, CREW’s voters bestowed a different kind of honor on the disastrous ruling — the title of January’s Scoundrel of the Month.
The ruling’s first four years have confirmed the grave threat it poses to democracy by greatly increasing the influence that special interests hold over policymaking in Washington. Some of the consequences of Citizens United have been all too apparent to voters, as an ever greater number of shadowy attack ads blanket the airwaves during election season. Critically, however, many of the changes ushered in by the ruling have taken place behind closed doors, as well-heeled interests exploit loopholes in the tax code to shield their political spending from public view.
“While Congress and federal regulators have utterly failed to grapple with the pernicious effects of this flawed decision, voters understand the enormity of the Court’s mistake,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “It seems that Citizens United has indeed united citizens — against the influence of big money in politics.”
Totally insulated from the real-world damage caused by its decision, the Supreme Court is poised to allow even more money into elections in a decision expected later this year. Meanwhile, defenders of the ruling have mounted an effort to defend secret spending on elections from new regulations under the guise of dubious First Amendment arguments.
CREW has taken a leading role in fighting back against the ruling’s harmful effects, filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failing to revise its regulations to stop the flow of dark money in elections, and representing an Aetna shareholder in his suit against the insurance giant for violating securities law by misleading shareholders about its spending.
Nominations are already being accepted for February’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by Friday, February 21st. Voting will begin the following week.