Cross-posted from USA Today
In a column, Ilya Shapiro claims, correctly, that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling is often misunderstood (“'Citizens United’ misunderstood: Column”). The Brennan Center report he cites makes the same point. His claim that Citizens United did not boost the power of wealthy mega-donors or undercut transparency, however, can’t be squared with the evidence.
Wealthy individuals can now give unlimited amounts to super PACs with vague names or to “dark money” groups that conceal donors entirely. Such entities are often run by candidates’ former staffers and consultants, and frequently work “hand in glove” with candidates’ campaigns. It is no surprise that spending by top donors has skyrocketed — along with their clout. This reality is not just because of Citizens United. But it would not have been possible without the court’s decision.