Money In Politics Part 1

25 June 2016

Hello, again Insights.

One of my main points is the money in politics issue. I’ve talked about it in several of my posts, but it hasn’t gone in depth. I stated that big money influences politicians to work for their interests over the ordinary citizen. Today, I’ll give a background and how the money in the system works.

Part 1: The Issue

Money in politics has been more at the forefront for Americans in this election. The Citizens United v. FEC court case has been talked about frequently. People know that this money in politics became a larger issue. Despite this, many do not know that this wasn’t the beginning of the problem of money corrupting our political system.

Part 2: Court cases expanding money in politics

In 1976, the Supreme Court had two decisions in Buckley v. Valeo. One was that restrictions on campaign contributions were constitutional and didn’t violate the First Amendment. The second decision, however, stated that the government couldn’t make restrictions on independent expenditures.

Buckley v Valeo Case Brief

There have been several campaign finance cases heard before SCOTUS. Other examples are the 1996 case Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC and the 2008 Davis v. FEC as well as. Not all cases allowed more money in politics. McConnell v. FEC(2003) upheld a donation limit.

Part 3: Citizens United v. FEC

In an earlier post, I talked about the Citizens United case and how it influenced money in politics and the mass media. The case started after the FEC called Citizens United’s documentary Hillary: The Movie unlawful electioneering. Citizens United sued and won, allowing for unlimited independent political expenditures. There is a problem with unlimited political expenditures. Wealthy and powerful interests can pour millions into campaigns, and we know the result. Those same politicians will listen to those interests because they’re finding their campaign. There was a key word back there. Independent. The FEC was supposed to have oversight over SuperPACs and campaign contributions. 

Part 4: Post-Citizens United and McCutcheon

SuperPACs rose in popularity after the Citizens United case. Money in politics became bigger, and virtually no regulations. In 2014, Shawn McCutcheon, an RNC donor sued against a donation limit claiming that it restricted the first amendment right to free speech. The FEC sued and again was unsuccessful. The Supreme Court ruled that it did violate the right to free speech in the First Amendment. As a result, more money was allowed to be brought into the political system.

McCutcheon v. FEC case brief

Part 5: Wrap-up

By nature, more money in the political system corrupts it. Politicians will work for special interests over ordinary citizens. This isn’t a recent issue, as shown here. The only way to fix our political system is to get the money out of politics by a Constitutional Amendment.

Wolf PAC– Political Action Committee devoted to getting money out of politics.

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