Saturday, January 21st, 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted de facto citizenship rights to corporations and opened the floodgates for organizations to raise and spend money on political campaigns.
The decision saw the rise of “super PACs” – a new type of political action committee with confusing restrictions governing how these groups can allocate money. As the ruling comes head-to-head with the first major election season some candidates who supported it are now experiencing buyer’s remorse. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went so far as to make public statements disavowing an inaccurate documentary put together by a set of former aides. Super PACs have contributed more than $27 million in 2012 alone, heating up the primary season and affecting the political landscape. Now that some Republican candidates who supported the Citizens United decision are facing super PACs who are focused on supporting their rivals, they’ve changed their tune and are crying foul. In an ongoing parody on Stephen Colbert’s late night comedy program, "The Colbert Report," the comic and satirist has been exposing what he has referred to as “loop chasms” in the rules governing super PACs by forming a super PAC and subsequently announcing his candidacy for “President of the United States of South Carolina,” requiring him to turn over control of his super PAC to his Comedy Central cohort Jon Stewart.
Is it too late to stop the influence of super PACs? How will they affect the balance of the 2012 election?
Lisa Graves, executive director, Center for Media & Democracy, an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, public interest organization that focuses on investigating and countering spin by corporations, industries, and government agencies; former deputy assistant attorney general, chief counsel for nominations, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Robert Alt, director, Rule of Law Programs; senior legal fellow, Heritage Foundation
Matthew Patsky, CEO, Trillium Asset Management