Senate hearing on Citizens United v. FEC today

In today’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Committee on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, attorney Jeffrey Clements submitted testimony on behalf of Free Speech for People (a campaign sponsored by Public Citizen, Voter Action, the Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance). This testimony makes for insightul reading for anyone interested in educating themselves about the decision — in particular, the details on the decision’s consequences are chilling:

What is the likely impact of Citizens United’s “radical departure” from this understanding? The data suggest the consequences if the American people do not — or, according to the Court, cannot — control corporate money in politics:

• According to the 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States, post-tax corporate profits in 2005 were almost $1 trillion.

• During the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 100 companies — the 100 largest corporations — alone had combined revenues of $13.1 trillion and profits of $605 billion.

• In contrast, during the same 2008 cycle, all political parties combined spent $1.5 billion and all of the federal PACs or political action committees, spent $1.2 billion.

If we take only the profit of the 100 largest corporations alone, those corporations would need less than 2 percent of their $605 billion in profit to make political expenditures that would double all current political spending by all of the parties and all of the federal PACs. Another way to look at it: Assume the 100 largest corporations wished to double — and therefore, swamp — President Obama’s 2008 record fundraising effort, much of it from small, individual contributions. That would require shaving a little more than the slightest fraction — 1/100 — off the top of corporate profits from those 100 corporations.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts has rekindled the spat between Justice Samuel Alito and the White House over the Supreme Court’s decision, calling President Obama’s criticism of the decision during the State of the Union Address “troubling.” White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs responded:

“What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections – drowning out the voices of average Americans,” Gibbs said. “The President has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response.”

And in Montana, a pair of corporations are suing the state to overturn its ban on corporate spending in elections, making it yet another corporate power battleground state.