Citizens United: North Carolina’s possible response


The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case has rendered 24 states’ election laws unconstitutional. The 5-4 ruling in favor of Citizens United reversed a provision of the McCain-Feingold act that prohibited any electioneering communication—defined as advertising via broadcast, cable or satellite that is paid for by corporations or labor unions. Many states have acted fast to counter corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections by passing laws that force disclosure of all independent expenditures in near real time. The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has decided to report what each of these states is doing to respond to the highly-contested ruling. Today we’re looking at North Carolina, a state working on it’s response to Citizens United:

State: North Carolina
Bill: HB 2023
Passed: N/A

North Carolina hasn’t passed any legislation yet that will amend laws currently on the books prohibiting electioneering communications, but the state is working on it. On May 26, the North Carolina Assembly introduced an act that would amend its election laws in response to Citizens United. If the state does pass the proposed act, it will officially repeal the laws made unconstitutional by the momentous ruling.

According to state election officials, the bill is on the legislative calender for discussion this week. While the bill might change, HB 2023 looks a lot like the bill Iowa passed.

North Carolina wants corporations to obtain approval from their executive board before going forward with expenditures. The act proposed will require any corporation that makes an independent expenditure to file a report within 48 hours of doing so. The disclosure will contain information about who paid for the ad and who it intended to support or oppose. All of this information is supposed to be made available to the public.

The bill being worked on also requires that anyone or any organization that donates money solely for the purpose of creating ads to corporations be disclosed. The caveat here, as it is with other states doing this, is that enforcing this is very difficult because it is hard to assess the internal accounting and reporting practices of a corporation.