It has been three years since Citizens United won at the United States Supreme Court in its landmark case Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission. The case restored free political speech to all Americans and the results were evident in the last election cycle. Both Republicans and Democrats took full advantage of their new found freedoms and will continue to do so in future elections. But one has to look at the over-the-top rhetoric that came out of the Obama Administration in the days and months after the decision and see where they are today.
A week after Citizens United’s victory, President Obama unprecedentedly went after the Justices during his State of the Union saying, “…The Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign companies — to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”
First, President Obama was completely wrong when he said that “foreign companies” would have a greater influence on our elections. Foreign companies could not contribute to campaigns before the Citizens United decision and after the Citizens United decision. Second, liberals in Congress, with President Obama’s backing, repeatedly tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act and failed. The DISCLOSE Act was in essence an incumbent protection bill that went nowhere but was used by the Left to rally their base on campaign finance reform.
From the very beginning, President Obama has been a hypocrite when it comes to campaign finance. Back in the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Obama broke a promise that he would accept public financing in the General Election. Fast forward to 2012, President Obama and his campaign team openly backed the super PAC Priorities USA Action. Priorities USA Action was set up by former Obama White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, and spent nearly $21 million in the final weeks of the 2012 presidential campaign bashing Mitt Romney. Now President Obama’s re-election campaign – Organizing for America – is getting a name change to Organizing for Action.
Organizing for Action is a non-profit 501 (c)(4) organization under the tax code and will be able to take unlimited donations from….wait for it….corporations. As President of Citizens United I revel in the fact that President Obama has come full circle and embraced the power of political speech. Now, they claim that Organizing for Action will not be overtly political, but as we have seen in the past, these promises will ring hollow.
You just have to look at the reaction by Fred Wertheimer, who heads the campaign finance watchdog group Democracy 21, and told POLITICO that President Obama should “immediately” shut down Organizing for Action. Mr. Wertheimer went on to say Organizing for Action is “an inexplicable action by the president that directly contradicts the message President Obama has been taking to the country for years about the dangerous role played by corporate and special interest money in influencing the way business is done in Washington.”
As we have seen throughout Barack Obama’s political life it is one that is mired in hypocrisy. Organizing for Action is just an exclamation point of that hypocrisy. For his entire first term President Obama railed against the Citizens United decision. Now as he enters his second term, his political organization is embracing it. Welcome to the age of greater political speech, Mr. President.