A Corporation is Not a Person
WASHINGTON, April 29 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cosponsored legislation introduced today in the Senate to rein in the influence of special interest corporate cash in federal elections.
The measure is a response to a Jan. 21 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which lifted strict limits in place for decades on corporate spending on political campaigns.
“Congress must move forward aggressively in response to the ruling that would open the flood gates for the largest corporations to spend unlimited resources electing candidates who represent their interests,” Sanders said. “Unless the law is changed, the ruling will give control of the political process to the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in the world and the candidates who support their agenda. Instead of democracy being about one-person one-vote, it will be about the size of a company’s bank account.”
The proposal would make corporate executives and other organization leaders take responsibility for political campaign ads. Like candidates for public office, CEO’s would have to openly declare in any commercial that they approved a message.
To encourage public disclosure of campaign donors, any corporation or other covered organization would have to disclose within 24 hours to the Federal Election Commission any campaign-related activity, including transfers of money to other groups for campaign-related activity. And to prevent foreign influence in American elections, foreign corporations would be banned from spending on U.S. elections.
The law would protect the interests of shareholders and union members by making corporations, labor organizations and other groups file reports with the FEC and within 24 hours post the information about political spending on their websites.
The measure also would safeguard taxpayers by forbidding government contractors from spending taxpayer money on political ads. It would be illegal for any entity with a government contract worth more than $50,000 to spend money on elections.
As a way to limit the ability of special interests to drown out other voices, candidates and political party committees would be able to take advantage of the lowest price for broadcast ads.
The bill also would outlaw coordination between a candidate and businesses or other outside groups buying ads for a candidate 90 days before a primary election running through the general election.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).