Should Corporate and Union Political Contributions Be Banned ?

Here in British Columbia, a provincial Conservative Party leadership candidate has put forth a proposal to ban political contributions from corporations and unions.

I think it is a great idea.

We are going to have a provincial election sometime soon, but the Conservatives don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of forming the next provincial government.


I think individual contributions are the only fair way to fund these political parties. Corporate interests have a way of running roughshod over people and they can wield a lot of power with their money. But government should be for the people and by the people, not organizations.

And we wouldn’t be wasting so much of our economic output on these elections.

I don’t think there is anything in the constitutions of Canada or the US which would prevent such a proposal. Corporations and unions don’t actually have rights do they?

Yup. I’d be all for that law. If British Columbia pulls that off, that makes the question of immigrating there even better. The U.S. is dead… its working class just doesn’t know it yet. Good luck getting such a law passed here; the plutocrats own the media and won’t even let such an idea get equal time on the airwaves if some politician started pushing for it.

However, Corporations are declared persons by an act of legal fiction. This also needs to be abolished.

Majority of money that is deemed to be corporate contributions or union contributions is really individuals contributions that are made to the respective company or union’spolitical action committee (PAC), and then combined and further contributed to candidates on a combined basis.

So should these PAC contributions to candidates be banned? PAC’s are they way that most individuals get involved in the political process. I make a donation to my company’s PAC. There are federal limits on how much each person is allowed to make to the PAC. The company itself cannot make contributions to the PAC. The PAC then takes all of the collective contributions and selects candidates to make contributions to. My individual contribution has more impact when it is combined with others and then distributed, than if I take my individual $1,000 and divide it amongst 50 different candidates.

In the U.S., there is the First Amendment.

NY Times article on the very recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision

One unique distinction on Corporate PACs and Union PACs is that corporations cannot make PAC contributions mandatory for employment at the company. In fact there are rules on how PAC contributions can even be solicited and from whom. Union PAC’s however can make contributions a part of the annual dues of the union. And if you work in a closed shop, that makes union membership mandatory, then you can be required to contribute to the PAC whether you want to or not.

Which doesn’t say anything remotely close to what the Supreme Court recently decided it does, of course.


Congress shall make no law** respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.*

(emphasis added)

No assumptions required to get from that statement to Citizens United, are there?

Given that the Constitution does not have an appendix that defines its terms, of course there are assumptions required. That holds true for just about the entire document. That’s pretty much what the Supreme Court does. It decides what those “assumptions” are. Just because you don’t like the decisions made doesn’t make those decisions invalid.

Sure, but there are assumptions and there are wild-assed leaps. Corporate personhood is a wild-assed leap. The concept that money equals speech, equally so.

Sure. And that crazy idea the the ACT of burning a flag equals speech. How ridiculous is that?

Can’t cheer for the inferential leaps you like and decry the ones you don’t.

I’m not convinced that the First Amendment does protect flag-burning. I am convinced that it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) prohibit things which are manifestly not political speech, like donations.

Yes,a ban on lobbying and publicly-financed elections would be the gretest single thing that could be done to redemocratise and decorrupt America. Politicians are all* bought and paid for by corporations and if they couldn’t be bought they could spend their time enacting policies that benefitted the people who vote for them.

*There may be honourable exceptions, but as you get higher up the food chain they’re all corporate servants. If you want to run for Prez you sell yourself long before you get near the Oval Office.

Since 2007 there have been restrictions and a ban on corporate or union contributions in Canada regarding donations to federal election campaigns, so I don’t see a problem doing the same thing in provincial elections.

Since the two countries treat political campaign contributions very differently, I’m not sure lumping them together in one thread does anything but confuse.

So then you think the government should have the power to ban movies and books critical of political candidates. That is afterall what Citizens United was about.

Why do you think that’s a good thing and how does that not violate the First Amendment?

Of course I can. I find it difficult to understand folks who don’t think they can.

First amendment or not, I find the influencing of elections through purchasing advertising to be a grotesque subversion of democracy, and I would applaud a change in the system that eliminated the influence of money on elections.

It was about the government having the power to regulate books and movies critical of political candidates, not about them having the power to ban them.

I’d like to see the Constitution amended so that only human type people - as opposed to either corporations or unions - would be allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and that they could only contribute toward candidates in their own state. A Presidential candidate could draw money from throughout the country, but a New York candidate for Senate could only draw from NY residents, and an Ohio congressional candidate would have to raise all his funds from Ohio.

There’d be limitations on residency too, so that a person would have to actually live there, unlike George HW Bush and his po box in Houston, or Rahm Emanuel and his rental property in Chicago.

Not nearly as ridiculaous as corparate donations equalling speech, and here is the difference: who’s speech is being denied when flag burning is being banned? The person burning the flag, of course. Whose speech is being denied when corporate donations are banned? Not the stockholders or management; they are free to donate to whom ever they wish. In my opinion, political donations should be limited to persons and legal entities that have the legal right to vote. That would exclude corporations and unions.

You’re splitting hairs.

Had the FEC forbidden the showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 during 2004, as the four justices who voted against Citizens United felt the government had the right to, then they’d have effectively banned it.

Anyway, why do you think the government should be able to do that and how does that not violate the First Amendment?