Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) praised Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway for his support of the state of Montana in a case that could determine whether the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling -- which opened the floodgates for unlimited, anonymous special-interest spending in American elections -- applies to state and local races.
"I applaud Attorney General Conway and his office for their efforts to limit the reach of the disastrous Citizens United decision and keep unlimited anonymous money from continuing to corrupt our political system," Yarmuth said. "Special-interest groups that aren't accountable to voters have already spent millions of dollars on federal elections this year, jamming the airwaves with attack ads. Without a change to the law, we can only expect more spending, more negativity, and less accountability.
Montana law bans corporate spending on political campaigns. A state court recently upheld the ban, and attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Citizens United -- which erased a century of campaign finance law by allowing corporations to spend general treasury funds for communications that advocate for the election or defeat of a specific candidate -- also applies to state law.
In December 2011, Yarmuth introduced a Constitutional amendment to overturn a key provision of Citizens United. The amendment establishes that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions do not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment. It also enables Congress to establish a public financing system that would serve as the sole source of funding for federal elections.
"Until we get big money out of politics, we will never be able to responsibly address the major issues facing American families," Yarmuth said.
Kentucky Attorney General Conway joins his counterparts in 21 other states and the District of Columbia in asking the Supreme Court to revisit its Citizens United decision, arguing that special-interest spending can dominate state and local elections more than federal elections. The brief goes beyond the central question in the Montana case, saying the court was wrong in its determination that unlimited special-interest spending would not lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption.