The lede editorial in today’s newspaper rightfully thumps Democrat Rep. Jacky Rosen, who recently announced she will seek Sen. Dean Heller’s seat next year, for embracing the First Amendment-shredding effort to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that said corporations and unions have free speech rights.
The editorial noted that this week Rosen was endorsed by the End Citizens United group and she responded by saying, “I’m grateful to End Citizens United for their support, and I will be their partner in the fight against mega-donors flooding our elections with unlimited and unaccountable dark money.”
The Citizens United ruling overturned a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law under which the Federal Election Commission barred the airing of a movie produced by Citizens United that was critical of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary.
In the press release announcing its endorsement, End Citizens United’s President Tiffany Muller declared, “Nevada will be a top priority for ECU this cycle and we look forward to working closely with Rosen’s campaign and help her fight back against the special interests who will do and say anything to protect their handpicked candidate.”
Rosen was further quoted as saying, “Washington hasn’t been listening to the needs of Nevadans because billionaires and special interests are drowning out the voices of real people in our communities. If we’re going to make real progress on issues like climate change, gun violence and health care, then we need to bring some transparency and accountability to our broken campaign finance system. Unlike Senator Heller, I will stand up for Nevadans by speaking out for real reform and a reversal of this catastrophic Supreme Court decision.”
That press release also said Heller voted three times against the DISCLOSE Act, Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections. That bill was pushed strongly by Sen. Harry Reid, whois backing Rosen’s run against Heller.
Actually, in the final vote killing that bill, Heller was absent. Though he was campaigning, his spokesman said he would have voted against it.
But in an interview on Sam Shad’s “Nevada Newsmakers” in 2016 Heller called for ending of corporate and union campaign donations in federal elections, though he did not call directly for overturning Citizens United.
“I would be for eliminating both,” Heller was quoted as saying. “Lets just make it fair and let’s get it back to the grass roots, get back to letting rank and file Americans, let them participate in this process. It (money) has completely overwhelmed the process. I think we should restrict both corporations and unions and let’s get it back to the grass roots.”
How you do that without amending the Constitution and ripping apart the First Amendment was not explained.
Rep. Dina Titus, who also has indicted she might run for Heller’s seat in the Senate, also has expressed support for End Citizens united.
Justice Anthony Kennedy explained this in his majority opinion in Citizens United v. FEC: “As a ‘restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign,’ that statute ‘necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached.’ … Were the Court to uphold these restrictions, the Government could repress speech by silencing certain voices at any of the various points in the speech process. (Government could repress speech by ‘attacking all levels of the production and dissemination of ideas,’ for ‘effective public communication requires the speaker to make use of the services of others’).”
Reid in one of his many diatribes on the subject said: “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced. Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons. It is time that we revive our constituents’ faith in the electoral system, and let them know that their voices are being heard.”
This implies the voters are too stupid to hear an open and free-wheeling debate and not be influenced by the volume or frequency of the message.
Who will stand up for the First Amendment?