Corporations should have free-speech rights
To the Editor:
I need to respond to the misguided or untruthful notions about the Citizens United case from Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef in the [January] Heights of Democracy column.
Nothing is scarier to me for our democracy than left-wing ideologues trying to amend our Constitution to limit free speech. The Citizens United case involved a group that produced an anti-Hillary Clinton movie, and Democrat supporters sought to stop the film and/or punish the producers. The Supreme Court upheld the free speech rights of citizens, whether in a group organized for-profit, not-for-profit, labor, news, politics or anti-politics to express their opinions. When government uses its power to maintain useless or harmful regulations, to oppose reforms, to expand bureaucratic excess, and to quash new products, medicines, innovation and services, I want our corporations, representing millions of people and shareholders (including 401(k) and pension participants) to have a vigorous right to speech. The majority on the Supreme Court could not see why one corporation (say, Google, Yahoo, The New York Times, CBS or Koch Industries), for-profit or non-profit, would have more free speech rights than another. But, I doubt your columnists have actually read the Supreme Court opinion. Unions and the Sierra Club are corporations, too.
Campaign finance laws have been ineffective, at best, or harmful to our democracy by driving money away from political parties and enhancing the role of individual billionaires. Moreover, the last presidential election showed that money is not as powerful as the Left would have you believe, and certainly doesn’t control the message. The Clinton campaign and supporters spent almost twice the amount as Trump. We also saw the largest and most powerful social corporations line up on the Clinton side and come up short. Wall Street went heavily toward Clinton.
Now for the facts. Since the court decision in 2010, corporations have donated a comparatively small percentage of the money in political campaigns. Business corporate PAC donations in 2016 were under $1 million. Of the $1.8 billion raised by PACs in 2015 and 2016 for political campaigns, only $85 million came from business. Liberal billionaire and global warming alarmist Tom Steyer topped the donor list with his contribution of $89 million; $242 million came from labor unions. I would rather hear from Merck or JP Morgan.