One of the remaining cases that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide on before they recess for the summer is American Tradition Partnership vs. Bullock. The Supreme Court could decide to hear argument on this case when it returns this fall and ultimately it could cause the Supreme Court to reconsider its previous decision in Citizens United vs. FEC.
Montana has a century old law, the Corporate Practices Act, which prohibits corporations from making expenditures in campaign activities. This law was brought about in 1906 because national copper mining companies were bribing elected officials and becoming directly involved with government functions. The Corporate Practices Act was a voter adopted referendum that fought back against corporate interests and worked to end the corruption that unlimited funding caused in Montana’s government.
The corruption in Montana is an excellent example of what a flood of secret, unlimited funds can have on the operation of government. Already in 2012 millions of dollars have been spent by outside funders and money continues to pour into the war chests of presidential and congressional candidates. Much of the money is donated in secrecy. While there are versions of the DISCLOSE act in the House and Senate that take the first steps to disclose who those funders are, this case could be what tips the balance in giving the voice in elections, back to the voters.
The League has signed onto an Amicus brief in support of the Corporate Practices Act. For decades the League has worked on campaign finance reform at the state, local and national levels. The League believes that the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for big-money special interests in our elections. Corporations and unions can now make unlimited secret expenditures seeking to elect or defeat candidates. And they can make unlimited secret contributions to other entities that seek to elect or defeat candidates.