June 11, 2012

The misuse of Citizens United in bemoaning Scott Walker's recall victory.

Michael McConnell — the Stanford lawprof and former federal judge — has a fine op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The effect of Citizens United "was almost exactly the opposite of" what anti-Walkerite pundits like the Greg Sargent and Lawrence O'Donnell have been saying.
Labor unions poured money into the state to recall Mr. Walker. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the NEA (National Education Association), the nation's largest teachers union, spent at least $1 million. Its smaller union rival, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), spent an additional $350,000. Two other unions, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union, which has more than one million government workers) and Afscme (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), spent another $2 million. Little or none of these independent expenditures endorsing a candidate would have been legal under federal law before Citizens United.

By contrast, the large spenders on behalf of Mr. Walker were mostly individuals. According to the Center for Public Integrity, these included Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin's wealthiest businesswoman, who spent over half a million dollars on his behalf; Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, who spent almost half a million; and well-known political contributors such as casino operator Sheldon Adelson and former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars each. Businessman David Koch gave $1 million to the Republic Governors Association, which spent $4 million on the Wisconsin race.

These donations have nothing to do with Citizens United. Individuals have been free to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of candidates since the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976).
And this is the pattern we should expect generally, McConnell says, because business corporations don't want to offend customers by putting their names on partisan advertising. It's the unions that don't mind associating their names with one party — the Democratic Party. Sure, those rich individuals who get their money working for corporations can spend all they want, but recognition of their right to do that pre-dated Citizens United by more than 4 decades.

31 comments:

AprilApple said...

How do teachers feel, knowing their dues fund democrat campaigns?

AprilApple said...

Individual payments to republicans = evil corporate horribleness that must be stopped!

Union payments to democrats = pure goodness and love.
Corporate payments to democrats = no problem.

When Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words "that's not true" - in response to Obama absurd lie about Citizens United, Alito was right. Obama, as usual, was wrong.

cubanbob said...

Citizens United is a bogey man for the left. The private sector taxpaying voters understood the problem perfectly well in WI which is why they voted to retain Walker. The left just can't accept private sector taxpayers are no longer willing to pay taxes to do other people favors with their money.

I'm not a WI resident or voter. I'm curious to what the consensus is about the republicans regaining the state senate seats in November. And if they do, will they extend the bill to cover all state and local PEU's? Does Romney have a real shot of taking WI and will the open US senate seat have a real chance of going republican?

Bryan C said...

"How do teachers feel, knowing their dues fund democrat campaigns?"

Who cares? It's not like many of them have any choice. NEA "agency fees" or dues are mandatory in many states.

And apparently the teachers are just fine with that, since they insist the NEA take their cash and do nothing whatsoever to change the policies of the union that claims to represent them.

Jay Retread said...

I think well positioned conservatives are starting to realize that our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy. The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that.

AprilApple said...

I care. I'm fed up with status quo.

Michael K said...

"And apparently the teachers are just fine with that,"

The changes in union membership where it has become optional show the truth. Unions are going to have to provide service to get members. What a concept !

Craft unions still run apprenticeships./ What do teachers' unions do ?

EDH said...

Next, Romney will be telling us rich "people are people", à la Depeche Mode.

cubanbob said...

Jay Retread said...
I think well positioned conservatives are starting to realize that our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy. The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that.

6/11/12 8:46 AM

The only thing that is losing legitimacy among actual real private sector taxpayers and voters are the liberals and the PEU's are a symbol of that.

Joe said...

our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy.

Incorrect.

The political system is losing legitimacy because it made grandiose claims about what it could do if given increasing amounts of power and has failed.

Those in power, be it in Congress, corporations or unions, have demonstrated the simple historical truth that those in power are more interesting in control and in gaining more power than in actually helping those in whom they are leading. The difference is that corporations don't write their own rules and are subject to far greater real accountability than Congress or the unions.

Jay said...

The Pennsylvania State Education Association gave $21,000 worth in-kind contributions on May 31 to political action committee We Are Wisconsin.

How does that help PA teachers, again?

Jay said...

The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that.

You have not the foggiest clue what the Citizens United decision said.

Tim said...

Jay Retread said...

"I think well positioned conservatives are starting to realize that our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy. The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that."

Cool story, bro.

You couldn't figure out the part Althouse tipped you to: "Sure, those rich individuals who get their money working for corporations can spend all they want, but recognition of their right to do that pre-dated Citizens United by more than 4 decades."

It's easier to comprehend the world once you take your Liberal glasses off. They distort so much, and make their wearers stupid.

Tim said...

Jay Retread said...

"I think well positioned conservatives are starting to realize that our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy. The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that."

Remember when Liberals patted themselves on the back by calling themselves "the reality-based community"?

Pretty audacious in light of the facts.

But then again, when 53% the electorate is dumb enough to vote for Barack Obama, I suppose Liberals can call themselves Olympic Gold Medalers AND Nobel Prize winners and a sizable portion of Americans would believe it.

Original Mike said...

Details, details ...

jaed said...

Did the political speech restrictions in McCain-Feingold even apply to state elections? Or just federal?

Curious George said...

Maybe that recall dude on CNN Tuesday night will read this and stop crying like a little bitch.

Michael K said...

One item on the San Diego local politics matter.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/business/media/san-diego-union-tribune-open-about-its-pro-business-motives.html?_r=1

I don't know enough about it but the stadium thing is really questionable. Maybe it qualifies as corruption, maybe not.

edutcher said...

It was supposed to be a juggernaut that would run forever, but then the private sector unions began to lose membership and now the public sector unions' racket (and its costs) have been exposed.

But they can't admit that to themselves.

Jay Retread said...

I think well positioned conservatives are starting to realize that our political system which is increasingly controlled by money of the few is losing legitimacy. The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that.

Bet he didn't say that when all the bank money was going to Willie and Choom.

kcom said...

Ann, here's what Mara Liasson said on Fox News Sunday:

"...Scott Walker outspent his opponent seven to one and the vast majority of his money came from out of state in big, unlimited contributions. That's a structural advantage that Republicans have this year all over the country because of Citizens United...

Now that you have corporations being able to fund Republicans in these huge amounts...
"

As far as I know, Citizens United did not allow corporations to fund any political party. Isn't her statement just wrong?

And what about the phrase "that's a structural advantage the Republicans have"? I've heard that repeated verbatim several times in the last week. Apparently it's a new Democratic talking point. But what does it actually mean?

By the way, that first paragraph really does hit the Democratic talking points pretty hard, doesn't it?

Matthew Sablan said...

"The overly broad written Citizens United has become a symbol of that."

-- I prefer a broad statement that the government cannot shut up political speech it disagrees with as opposed to a discrete "this political speech is OK" decision.

Original Mike said...

"here's what Mara Liasson said on Fox News Sunday:

"...Scott Walker outspent his opponent seven to one and the vast majority of his money came from out of state in big, unlimited contributions. That's a structural advantage that Republicans have this year all over the country because of Citizens United..."


I was really disappointed in Liasson's comments. Not only the incorrect diagnosis of the effects of CU, but even more fundamentally, the parroting of the 7:1 figure, which just isn't correct. I don't know why, but I've always struggled to give Liasson the benefit of the doubt. But she's just another liberal hack.

Alex said...

This is more proof that the left only disapproves of government interference when it suits them.

Alex said...

But hey the welfare state gives the Democrats a structural benefit as giving them a reliable voting class, why is THAT fact not discussed? How many trillions in transfer payments did it take?

John said...

Micahel K,

You pointed out that some craft unions still run excellent apprenticeship.

These are not just OJT in many acase. They include classroom work, practice and instruction in actual skills as well as OJT.

A lot of apprenticeship programs turn out highly skilled and valuable workers.

Another service some unions provide is hiring halls. If I need some masons for my construction project, I call the mason's hall and tell them to send me a few. I know what they will cost, I know (more or less) what they can and will do. Think of all the time and money lost trying to hire a couple of masons for a week in the free market.

For the mason, it saves going from jobsite to jobsite looking for work.

Some unions also provide portable health and life insurance as well as pensions. You don't lose them when you move from job to job. As long as you stay in the union.

Other unions offer other benefits as well.

I am not saying that this is always the best way to do these things. I do say that for many employers and employees they represent an attractive alternative.

John Henry

I Callahan said...

Did the political speech restrictions in McCain-Feingold even apply to state elections? Or just federal?

Nope - just federal. So Citizens United is just a giant straw-man in regards to the Wisconsin elections.

Alex said...

Regardless the liberals feel that rich people donating to Republicans is the greatest evil ever and must be expunged. That is their truth.

RonF said...

Ann, can you as a law professor directly address the point of whether or not Citizens United had any role in a non-Federal Wisconsin gubernatorial election at all?

Dose of Sanity said...

What about Americans for Prosperity? Would their contributions be legal under the old system? Was their amount higher than all the unions combined?

What a strange article!

SGT Ted said...

The left is for McCain-Feingold because they want to restrict speech from organizations they disapprove of.

buffalo said...

Here's a ratio for you ... 0:$20. I requested my $20 PAC portion of my WEAC dues and donated it to Lt.Gov. Kleefisch. $0 for weac, $20 for Kleefish.