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PDC: Supreme Court’s Montana ruling won’t change things in Washington state

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on June 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm with No Comments »
June 25, 2012 12:10 pm

Washington state’s campaign finance watchdog foresees no impact in the Evergreen State from today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that nullified a century old campaign-finance law in Montana. Lower courts had struck down Montana’s prohibition on independent spending by corporations, and the high court cited its own 2010 ruling in Citizens United to back up its newest decision.

“Today’s ruling has no impact in Washington State.  Washington State’s laws have never set limits on corporate campaign spending.  There are contribution limits, but Citizens United was about independent spending by corporations – not direct contributions,” Washington Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman Lori Anderson said in an email.

Politico reports here on various reactions to the high court’s application of Citizens United in the Montana case. Some reformists had hoped the court would have used the Montana case as a reason to revisit – and fix – its ruling in Citizens United, which critics say has opened a flood of independent expenditures.

Justice at Stake, a watchdog group that has tracked the growth of spending by interest groups in state court races, put out a statement from Bert Brandenburg, its executive director, who said the ruling failed to account for the corrosive effects of special-interest money pouring into state court races:

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision ignores the damage that special interest money is inflicting on America’s state courts. The threat to fair and impartial elected courts in America is even clearer now than when Citizens United was issued. Deep-pocketed special interest groups are pouring money into judicial elections to push courts to decide cases in their favor. Common-sense election reforms are more necessary than ever, to protect our courts and other democratic institutions.”

Washington Public Campaigns has advocated for public-funded Supreme Court races in Washington. But its proposals never went far in the state Legislature, where advocates including Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, never found a politically palatable source of financing.

General Politics
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