History Lessons: Citizens United (Against Hillary)

By Kati Seeman

Never underestimate the power of money in a political campaign. In a post-Citizens United world we have seen an explosion of funds poured into elections at all levels and in all branches of government. Often times, this infamous Supreme Court case is brought up, but just like so many other hot issues in American politics very few people understand what is going on beyond the catchphrases. “Corporations are people” and “unlimited spending” are two of the buzzwords that people hear, but where did Citizens United come from and what does this actually mean for the 2016 elections? 

For starters, the group Citizens United ironically is dedicated to more transparency in government. Their website promotes traditional conservative ideals including limited government, freedom of enterprise, and national security. Because of their far-right location on the political spectrum, it is no wonder or surprise that they are not “ready” for Hillary.

In fact, the root of the Supreme Court case that was decided back in 2010 was the desire to bypass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002) with a full-length documentary dedicated to discrediting Hillary Clinton as a viable presidential option in 2008.

The description of the film on their website reads:

“Hillary The Movie is complete! The movie you’ve been waiting for is here and exploding onto the scene! With nearly 40 in-depth interviews with experts, opinion makers, and many of the people who personally locked horns with the Clintons, this is the film you need!

The cast to end all casts includes: Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Gerth, Buzz Patterson, Michael Barone, Billy Dale, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Tony Blankley, Dick Armey, Bay Buchanan, Joe Connor, Mark Levin, Frank Gaffney, Peter Paul, Gary Aldrich, Dan Burton, John Mica, Michael Medved, Kathleen Willey, Kate O’Beirne, Larry Kudlow and more!

If you want to hear about the Clinton scandals of the past and present, you have it here!

Hillary The Movie is the first and last word in what the Clintons want America to forget!”

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From Left to Right Tom Harkin, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and Ruth Harkin wave during their introduction at the 2014 Harkin Steak Fry. Photo by Kati Seeman

Essentially because of the express advocacy of the film, the BCRA would effectively prevent Citizens United from airing the documentary due to the film’s length and their status as a political action committee.

It’s not light stuff, but it’s relevance to the upcoming 2016 election cannot be understated. Although Hillary lost the ’08 nomination, there are still many speculating about her making a run for the White House. The Citizens United case has made it easier for corporations to make their voices heard, and subsequent cases have further liberated campaign financing and disclosure rules. No candidate in the 2016 election will have an easy road, and currently there is no way to avoid the money question. Courts have gutted the impact of legislation such as the BCRA and changed the way our elections are shaped, and specifically they are shaped like this: $.

2 thoughts on “History Lessons: Citizens United (Against Hillary)

  1. All the hand wringing about money in politics is a red herring. For all of their ranting about money, Democrats had more campaign funding from the top 1% than did Republicans. More importantly, the US spent more on Halloween (cards, costumes, candy, etc.) than on the entire 2014 election. A little perspective is needed.

    • Mr. Anderson, thank you for your comment. I think that you bring up a very important point about political parties and the general idea that Democrats are funded more from grassroots efforts. Money is important for both parties, and neither one is immune to the “big” money. As much as everyone likes to complain about the impact election season has on political ads and transparency, there have always been ways for money and donors to influence candidates. Personally, I don’t see a way for campaign finance reform to actually limit the use of money in politics especially with the current Supreme Court.

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