The Legacy of Citizens United

by SAMAN GOLESTAN

If you thought that Citizen’s United [1]allowed too much untraceable money into our presidential and congressional elections then you would like to know that now there is more to the story. (For an overview of elections spending and Citizen’s United see here). A new chapter has emerged since the November election. Just this week, the New York Times reported that now even cabinet nominations are not immune to unlimited spending by anonymous third party groups who do not have to disclose their donors. Senator Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator from Nebraska, formally got the nomination to Secretary of Defense from the President just last week. Then the ad wave started; something unprecedented and unseen for a cabinet nomination. ‘Grassroots’ groups who claim to be advocating a particular issue or position, with nice sounding names like Use Your Mandate are popping up, but no one knows who they are or where their funds come from. Of particular concern is the fact that foreign governments have lots to gain if they can successfully influence the nomination of a US defense secretary. Without any oversight, or any law mandating public disclosure, we won’t know who is spending money in our elections. And we are the only ones with anything to lose.


[1] Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).

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