The Campaign Legal Center filed this amicus brief on behalf of 14 nonprofit organizations (including the Sunlight Foundation) before the U.S. Supreme Court this past Friday. It concerns a challenge to part of the Citizens United decision that allows independent entities to raise and spend unlimited amounts of dark money to influence elections. The high court must decide whether to hear argument in a case involving the potential invalidation of a Montana law that limits corporate political expenditures, known as American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock.
In our amicus brief, we challenge two assumptions made by the Supreme Court in its prior decision: that "independent expenditures" are actually independent, and that current disclosure laws are sufficient to deter corruption and avoid the appearance of corruption.
Three major arguments animate the brief. First, the current law's accommodation of close relationships between candidates and "independent" spenders could lead to corruptions and the appearance thereof. Second, current law facilitates efforts by corporations to deny shareholders and citizens the information necessary to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions. And finally, that even when campaign finance information is disclosed, it is often do so in a way that is insufficiently timely and accessible to inform the electorate.