A coalition of the country’s wealthiest and most politically active campaign donors wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, urging her to support campaign reform efforts in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court decision allowing unrestricted corporate spending on elections.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
The letter urges Pelosi, who is from San Francisco, to support the Fair Elections Now Act, which calls for a hybrid election-funding scheme based on small contributions and public financing.
"As we know from the solicitation calls we receive, our political leaders must fundraise constantly," the letter laments.
Many critics of the Supreme Court ruling – some of whom have joined a group called Citizens United – have expressed fear that large corporations would use their money to influence elections behind the scenes, much as independent expenditure committees do in California campaigns.
Indeed, prominent Washington lobbying firm K&L Gates has published guidance on its Web site advising its clients that by forming independent expenditure coalitions, corporations can contribute large amounts to elections while avoiding public scrutiny:
If such independent expenditures are made, groups of corporations within an industry may form coalitions or use existing trade associations to support candidates favorable to policy positions that affect the group as a whole. While corporations that contribute to these expenditures might still be disclosed, this indirect approach can provide sufficient cover such that no single contributing entity receives the bulk of public scrutiny.
Corporations could further lower their profile in such cases by not making contributions specific to a particular expenditure by that third-party corporation. Such independent expenditures can also take the form of advertisements in "under-the radar" sources, such as ideologically-based talk radio, web-based ads or phone banks. Since state and local laws preventing corporate political expenditures will also likely be repealed as a result of Citizens United, small corporations may also become involved in state and local races through regional media.
TPM Muckraker, which broke that story, has more details.