September 2, 2014

Legislation: Federal, State Lawmakers Prepare Citizens United Bill Challenges

In response to the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (.pdf), lawmakers at both the federal and state levels are proposing legislation that places limits on election campaign donations made by corporations and labor unions.

Later this week, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) are expected to introduce two bills before the U.S. Congress to impose limitations on corporate spending during elections. According to the National Law Journal‘s Marcia Coyle, the two congressional bills will:

  • Require the head of a corporation, union, section 501(c)(4), (5), or (6) organization, or section 527 organization to say he or she “approves this message” in any campaign ad and the top contributor to “stand by” the ad.
  • Ban coordination between a candidate and outside groups on ads that reference a candidate and then run in the time period beginning 90 days before a primary and ending with the general election.
  • Require any covered organization to disclose within 24 hours to the FEC not just its campaign-related activity, but also transfers of money to other groups that then can be used for campaign-related activity. Additionally, a covered organization must disclose its donors.
  • Prohibit corporations controlled by foreign entities or foreign nationals from spending in U.S. elections.
  • Mandate disclosure by corporations, unions, and other groups to their shareholders and members in their annual and periodic reports.
  • Prohibit federal government contractors with a contract worth more than $50,000 from spending money on elections.

In local developments, Colorado State Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) and House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann (D-Louisville) have co-sponsored SB 10-203, an end-of-session bill that would require corporations and labor unions to register their election campaign donations with an independent agency, showing both the donor and the amount of the donation. This morning’s Denver Post has the details.

Colorado’s 2010 legislative session ends May 12. If enacted, SB 10-203 would take effect before this fall’s election cycle begins.

For other Citizens United coverage on CBA-CLE Legal Connection, see here, here, and here.