Huffington Post gives national attention to the drive by an Arkansas group, Regnat Populus, to overcome the Citizens United ruling that extended personhood to corporations for purposes of political campaign spending.
I wrote about the effort yesterday, but neglected to emphasize an important point.
In addition to attempting to ban corporate spending in Arkansas through a change to the state’s corporate code (a change that would have difficulty passing federal court muster), the measure also calls for a U.S. constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Sixteen states have called for such an amendment. If the proposal qualifies for the ballot here and is approved, Arkansas would be the first Southern state asking Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification.
Polls show broad public opposition to the Citizens United ruling, but that’s absent the huge corporate spending that likely would come with an effort to undo it.
A Republican critic is already flyspecking the idea of a corporate prohibition in Arkansas. He notes the proposal likely would leave the door open to corporations chartered outside Arkansas and sending in money for campaign advertising. Probably so. You’d think and hope such instances would be rare. The proposal also would do nothing about the super wealthy individuals who have the money to directly spend huge sums to buy legislative majorities, as Art Pope did in North Carolina and the Waltons have done in Arkansas in terms of their efforts to tear down conventional public school districts, particularly when they employ union teachers.
For some slightly contrarian thinking on Citizens United, you’d do well to read Eduardo Porter, who wrote on the topic this week in the New York Times and then wrote this blog post.
Could corporate America really be losing control of the political process when corporate executives are spending so much to sway elections?
My latest Economic Scene column notes that for all the assertions that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision would lead to a corporate takeover of politics, corporations seem to be losing the ability to control their historical allies in the Republican Party.
I propose that one reason may be that companies reluctant to open up the campaign spending spigot have been outspent by partisan bazillionaires, including wealthy corporate executives, who do not share corporations’ need to appear nice to both sides.