NASHVILLE – Republicans are pushing a last-minute change to weaken campaign finance laws and make it easier for corporations to give to political campaigns.
House Bill 3281 would remove disclosure rules that require corporations to register as political action committees in order to give to candidates. Additionally, the bill removes aggregate PAC limits that prohibit candidates from receiving all of their funding from PACs and, for the first time, would allow insurance companies to donate to candidates.
“Under these new rules, corporations aren’t just ‘people,’ they are super-people that receive special privileges and access that everyday Tennesseans can’t get,” Forrester said. “Instead of using the last few minutes of this legislative session to put Tennesseans back to work, we’re seeing an extreme move that hurts the working and middle class families by putting special interests ahead of our families’ best interests.”
The law, if passed as amended by Casada, would allow corporations to adhere to the PAC donation limits, currently $10,700 per candidate, but would allow them to donate as individuals, effectively giving corporations a “best of both worlds” situation.
“If Rep. Casada is dead set on treating corporations like people, why not apply the same contribution limits to them as we do to human beings?” said Forrester.
During the discussion of the amendment, Rep. Casada either misrepresented or outright lied about the impetus for this last minute legislation, namely, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. Casada stated that the law passed in 2011 requiring corporations to file as PACs in order to donate to candidates was a “mistake” and was “out of compliance” with the Supreme Court decision. This is absolutely false. Citizens United addressed Independent Expenditures, and expressly confirmed that bans on corporations donating to individuals are still legal.
Video: Rep. Casada says during the House State and Local Government Committee that this amendment would put the state in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wswJdGVOJMQ
Court Unlikely To Stop With Citizens United – Eliza Carney, National Journal Dec 18, 2010
“The court’s dramatic reversal does not threaten the existing ban on direct corporate and union campaign contributions. So while those players may now lavish money from their treasuries on independent campaign expenditures, they still may not donate directly to candidates.”
Life After Citizens United – NCSL: “the ruling does not directly affect state laws”