7/27/16 Citizens United

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If elected president, Hillary Clinton has vowed to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

If Clinton reaches the White House and reverses Citizens United then the issue will have come full circle.  It started with her.

Let me explain.

Citizens United is a non-profit advocacy organization.  It’s generally thought to be a conservative-leaning group.  Although it’s been critical of both Democrats and Republicans.  For example, it demanded the resignation of Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006.  At issue was another Congressman’s questionable behavior with teenaged House pages.  Ironically, Hastert is now in prison stemming from his own questionable behavior with a high school student years ago.

Citizens United produced a documentary titled “Hillary: The Movie” to show on cable TV before the 2008 primaries. But the Federal Election Commission ruled the film an electioneering communication and an illegal campaign expenditure.

Citizens United challenged this in court.  Its president David Bossie told Behind the Headlines that giant Hollywood studios produce message movies every year.  Some of which are openly political and very partisan.  And they spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing them.  So why is a small, non-profit treated differently?

The Supreme Court ruled on the case. It kept in place the ban on direct contributions to political campaigns by unions and corporations. But it ruled unconstitutional restrictions on independent expenditures by unions, corporations and non-profits.

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