(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that some experts predict could have an even bigger impact than the Citizens United ruling from 2010, which eliminated the ban on corporate spending in elections. The ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission could determine whether or not the government can limit individual donations to federal candidates. We’ll talk about the case, the role of money in politics, and the rise of “Leadership PACs,” fundraising committees that critics say are being used as unregulated personal “slush funds” for legislators.

Guests:
Josh Gerstein, senior White House reporter for Politico
Peter Schweizer, author of "Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets"
Jim Sutton, professor of law at Hastings College of Law and founder of the Sutton Law Firm, which specializes in political and election law and litigation
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and OpenSecrets.org, which tracks federal campaign contributions and lobbying activity

  • Ben Rawner

    The press as a shamer of politicians only works so well. Americans get fatigued easily at politician stories of corruption but that does not change the fact that rules are being broken either by the politician or purposefully by the courts. For some reason money equals speech but what happened to equality. How can someone giving billions have more equality than me, who can give only $100 a year. That is inherently unequal and where is the balance between freedom and equality.

  • cgoode

    Where does all this leave the ordinary voter? Our voices are DROWNED OUT by all this money coming from a few people/groups who determine the course of the country.
    Where is Democracy in this scenario?

  • Monsieur Oblong

    Nobody has explained why “money is the highest form of political speech.” How is money speech? How does it benefit anybody who is not a special interest looking for a quid-pro-quo for their “donation”, whether business or labor?
    Speech is speech. It does not guarantee that you will be heard. Why should any ordinary citizens care if political candidate X ever gets heard, if he has the dollars to spread his message all over the airwaves? How do we benefit from this? The simple answer is that we don’t. I am NOT more interested in hearing the points of view of those with monied backers than I am in hearing the points of view of those with none. The poorer candidates are, the better for the system.

  • Atalanta12

    Jim Sutton is completely delusional. How many people can say they know someone who is running for public office? He’s a 1%er of the highest order and disconnected as the corporations he thinks are “speaking” for the American people.

  • PeterTF

    In this case the “1%” is apt – though it significantly understates the problem. In fact, one half of 1% of the direct donors to political candidates contribute the overwhelming majority of the campaign funding. Meanwhile, 132 individuals contributed more than 60% of all the funds going to Super PACs. That’s 0.000042% of the total donors.

    It is laughable to suggest that this does not tilt politicians toward meeting the desires of these donors. It is equally laughable to suggest that donors at that level are attuned to the needs and priorities of “regular” Americans. And Republicans and Democrats alike are being sidelined.

    It’s time for an overall reform movement, involving a range of solutions: campaign contribution limits, full disclosure of contributions, small donor matching funds, redistricting reform and a host of other policy changes. Americans need to reclaim their birthright – a functioning democracy.

  • John L

    To equate money with speech is to confuse the means for the end. Yes, I can give money to a campaign that will then be used to promote a political message I agree with. I can also use my boot to hammer a nail in that will hold up a political poster. That doesn’t mean that my boot is a hammer, or an article of political speech.

  • Bill Clawson

    cgood and I agree. If a protestor protests in the woods and there’s no-one to hear, is his speech really free? The problem with equating money to free speech is that some people end up having much freer speech (and far more influence on politicians) than others can. Certainly this is the case with superPACs.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor