[Barack Obama]: It will be coming to a head in this election. We’re going to have as stark a contrast as we’ve seen in a very long time between the two candidates. 2008 was a significant election, obviously. But John McCain believed in climate change. John believed in campaign-finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. There were some areas where you saw some overlap.
What? John McCain actually did believe in “campaign-finance reform,” but candidate and President Barack Obama most certainly did not: He was the first presidential candidate in the general election to renounce public campaign financing in the history of the legislation so that he could go on to out-raise McCain three to one.
When the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United ruling, Obama still had one of the largest Democratic majorities in Congress in decades. But Democrats still didn’t do anything about it. If they viewed that holding as truly critical, the Democrats could have passed a law addressing the issue. Passing legislation about campaign finance reform was simply not a priority for the Obama administration.
A federal court has come to the fairly common sense realization that when the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” it kind of means it:
A federal court in Alexandria, Va. on Thursday struck down a federal ban on corporate campaign contributions, in a case with potentially dramatic ramifications for a campaign finance regulatory system under siege by legal and regulatory attacks.
The short version: this case draws on the landmark US Supreme Court free speech case Citizens United, which partially revoked the odious McCain-Feingold Act, which was easily one of the most blatantly unconstitutional laws that Congress has passed in recent memory. Since CU ruled that you couldn’t muzzle a group under the cynical guise of ‘campaign finance reformed,’ the judge in the case has determined that a group may make the same kind of contributions to a specific candidate as a group that an individual can. That effectively means that, say, the AFL-CIO can give Barack Obama five grand directly next year (half for the primary, half for the general), perfectly legally*.
This will be appealed, of course: the usual suspects are already making noise about how this case violates the last Supreme Court decision-but-one on the matter. Of course, it’s the ‘but-one’ that’s the kicker…
*Mind you, that particular group plans to give that particular candidate considerably more, ideally (for them) in a form that will not result in actual convictions for money-laundering. Frankly, I think that it’d be easier all around if we had less restrictions on maximum contributions and more requirements on transparency.