When the Citizens United ruling came down last year I spent a great deal of time explaining the specifics of how corporations could spend money in elections to friends, family, and on the radio and television. The biggest confusion that a lot of people had was whether corporations could, in the wake of the ruling, contribute directly to the campaign of a political candidate. The answer was easy: no.
According to the Washington Post, the Republican members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) want to change that. These three members released a document stating that corporations should be able to contribute directly to the campaigns of federal office seekers. The document states that the prohibition on these direct donations are “at best suspect,” in light of the Citizens United ruling.
It is not clear where, exactly, these FEC commissioners see an inference towards the elimination of the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates in the Supreme Court’s ruling. The ruling assails the Austin ruling’s finding of an anti-distortion reasoning for banning corporate independent expenditures, but repeats the Buckley finding that direct contributions to candidates can be banned and limited due to an anti-corruption concern, whether real or just an appearance of. The only time the Citizens United ruling swipes at anti-corruption concerns is to state that they do not apply to independent expenditures.