SCOTUS Rules for Big Donors

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Nicholas Confessore, politics reporter for the New York Times covering lobbying and campaign finance, explains the details of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down some limits on federal campaign finance donations, and what it means for the influence of large donors in politics.


Nicholas Confessore

Comments [30]

RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@Robert from NYC

Vote for Dems, of course. Those are the only names on November's ballot that have a shot at stopping the theft of the democracy for our nation. There is no time to build an organized effort to primary good alternative candidates. The "Sweep Them All Out!" strategy may be emotionally appealing but is unworkable. Walking into the voting booth with that as your voting strategy just guarantees the encumbent a win.

Apr. 03 2014 12:11 PM

Nick from UWS-

“..these repulsive old disgusting power-addled, bought-and-paid-for marionettes …. unelected, they sit there wielding their corrupt power with absolute impunity … they are disgusting.”

LOL, do you really need to be so crude and blunt about Ginsburg and the 2 new rubber stamp lady lefties?

Apr. 03 2014 11:03 AM

Robert from NYC
THREE TIMES. THRICE the city voted for prince mike.
Blame the voters!!

Apr. 03 2014 10:59 AM
BK from Hoboken

The guest says that Obama was the best fundraiser. Bit what I would like to know is- crunch the data and I am pretty darn sure you would find that the median donation given to Obama/DNC/democratic leaning PACs would be a lot lower than funds given to republican side.

Apr. 03 2014 10:38 AM
Robert from NYC

Be careful lady, you jumped on Brian's hero, Bloomberg. See how he snapped back! Well it is too as much about Bloomberg since he IS a billionaire and and at that one who used his money to push his way around NYC to get what he wanted including a third term after the citizens of this city voted for term limits two times, TWICE, TWO TIMES! So does that make him a representative of these citizens? No, it makes him THE representative of Michael Bloomberg and his own policies.

Apr. 03 2014 10:34 AM
Randall from Brooklyn

One can now give almost unlimited funds to political campaigns - Great. If all politics are local, why can one give to campaigns that are NOT in their own precinct or district or state? Given the ruling, I want to buy my politicians, not someone from Las Vegas. Political donations should be limited to the address of the donor, just as a newspaper only publishes its endorsements in its regional area. Keep it local so that it's the constituents of the district that determine what that district stands for.

Apr. 03 2014 10:28 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Nick "When will a movement begin to remove them [SCOTUS] completely from our political system? They are disgusting."

Nick, careful what you wish for.

Apr. 03 2014 10:26 AM
Robert from NYC

You got my vote Nick from UWS. Blather, blather, blather, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. And they get paid for it.
And criminals they are! Fifty years ago they'd be shunned and run out of town.

Apr. 03 2014 10:24 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

The ONLY solution: a Constitutional amendment outlawing any financial contributions to political campaigns EXCEPT public funding.

Public Funding (entirely) is the only answer to all this.

(Side note--post Watergate rollback of reforms also includes the rollback of limits to NSA and CIA activities. Like Watergate never happened.)

Apr. 03 2014 10:24 AM

Don't have any idea who had more money but I know who had more votes
And u might notlike those "winners" but the voters did.

Apr. 03 2014 10:23 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Where in the Constitution does it say that money is speech?

Apr. 03 2014 10:23 AM
Xverb from London

Rulings like this and citizens united are creating a sort of arms race in electoral politics.

Sure Obama backed out of public financing in '08, but you kind of cant blame a candidate for not unilaterally disarming.

We have created a system where candidates simply don't have a choice, they will have to take private money if they will have any hope of being competitive.

Apr. 03 2014 10:22 AM
Nick from UWS

All this blather and yak from the "pundits" trying to spin this as a good thing, when it's not. All this whistling in the dark. It's part of a progressive power grab being enacted by why don't you guys start calling this what it is and stop the sugar coating.

Apr. 03 2014 10:19 AM
Sue from Manhattan

QUESTION: Until yesterday, we supposedly had limits on what people could spend on elections. But I've read that the Koch brothers spent $400 million to influence the last election cycle. How could that be? Because they donated to candidates AND ran their own TV ads?

Apr. 03 2014 10:18 AM

@hjs11211 - they just said obama was most successful at campaign donations. and he won. sounds familiar. corzine, bloomberg, bush. none of them won without money.

Apr. 03 2014 10:16 AM
CK from BK

Does this ruling have potential change the power dynamic within political parties? If I'm John Boehner and I suddenly attract large contributions to the Republican Congressional Campaign fund, I can allocate that money to keep Republican extremists (or moderates) in line.

Apr. 03 2014 10:15 AM

@ Nick from UWS, Exactly.

Apr. 03 2014 10:15 AM

how about funding elections with tax dollars and making private money illegal? additionally, all these conservatives scream about "the constitution" and we have to get back to the letter of the law. guess what? political parties are NOT in the constitution.

Apr. 03 2014 10:14 AM
Joe from nearby

Who was responsible for changing the word "exclusively" in the 501c4 law to the word "primarily" in the 501c4 regulation?

Nowhere has anyone been singled out for this undemocratic abomination.

Apr. 03 2014 10:11 AM
Nick from UWS

The US supreme court...these repulsive old disgusting power-addled, bought-and-paid-for marionettes of corporate America, have been happily selling out US democracy for years now. Unelected, they sit there wielding their corrupt power with absolute impunity. When will a movement begin to remove them completely from our political system? They are disgusting.

Apr. 03 2014 10:11 AM

Money doesn't win elections votes do!
Shame on the lazy voter who votes against his interest. Or who just doesn't vote

Apr. 03 2014 10:11 AM
Nancy from NYC

In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of corruption to only quid pro quo payment to a legislator for favorable treatment or legislation.

But federal campaign finance laws were enacted to combat both corruption AND the appearance of corruption. It's not just corruption but the appearance of corruption that must be avoided.

Public opinion about Congress and government is alarmingly low and now, with this decision, the public perception will be even worse as rich people pouring millions of dollars into campaigns sure has the appearance of corruption and impropriety. People without millions to donate will be drowned out and feel powerless. This justifies the "little guy" in checking out of civil engagement. What a shame. How un-American.

Apr. 03 2014 10:10 AM
Dan from Sleepy Hollow

Looking on the bright side, this is an economic stimulus plan. It gets the very wealthy to inject more money into the economy.

Apr. 03 2014 10:09 AM

It's a boon for the economy!

All that money has to go somewhere, so it's going to tv stations who will hire more advt executives. it's going to web designers and content providers. it's going to billboard and sign makers. it's going to artists who design logos. it's going to people who hand out flyers on street corners.

We're rebuilding the country's manufacturing base.... manufacturing politicians!

Apr. 03 2014 10:09 AM
Andrew from NYC

It is more accurate to call what we are developing into a plutocracy. An oligarchy is what exists in Russia or Ukraine; much greater wealth concentration at the top. We are not there yet, perhaps another decade or two of further decline in the middle class.

Apr. 03 2014 10:08 AM
Robert from NYC

Vote for who, RUCB_Alum? The repubs to want this or the wimpy demos who are just as much in the pockets of big money and timidly back off after making a big unconvincing hoopla noise then back off? Who does one vote for?! Get them all out of DC, on big enema at once, clean out the halls of congress, and get new bodies in there.

Apr. 03 2014 10:07 AM
Joe from nearby

So by Roberts' own logic, when the evidence of bribery flowing from this decision starts piling up, obviously he'll rethink it and permit donation limits again?

Apr. 03 2014 10:06 AM
Nancy from NYC

We need to stop calling this country a democracy. It's an oligarchy, let's call it what it is.

Apr. 03 2014 10:04 AM
anon from somewhere in 'merka

Welcome to the United States of the Oligarchy!

Apr. 03 2014 10:04 AM


1) Foment anti-unionism to make the average worker distrust collective bargaining
2) Permit illegal immigration to hold down domestic wages
3) Use tax policy to skew income distribution such that 60's era minimum wages earners could demand 20% more goods and services than the AVERAGE income worker of the 2010's can demand.
4) SCOTUS decides that money IS speech and permits the corrosive effect of money to affect EVERY election.

This is the way the ladder to prosperity is being pulled up behind them, folks. Be sure you vote on November 4.

How long before no money is no speech?

Apr. 03 2014 09:11 AM

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