Citizens United, of course, was the U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively removed limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns. In a lot of ways, it is the Dred Scott decision of the 21st Century, a decision so hopelessly wrong and wrong-headed that it tore and is tearing the country apart. WC has written about Citizens before. But let’s look at another set of political campaigns to see the horribly corrosive effect on our democracy.
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in deep trouble, facing a recall election after cramming through a bill eviscerating public labor unions. He needed campaign funds to fight the recall. He and his political team made a lot of calls to potential donors. One of those donors, Harold Simmons, owner of NL Industries, came through in a big way for Governor Walker, contributing three donations totalling three-quarters of a million dollars to Walker’s Wisconsin Club for Growth.
Simmons was a controversial donor, because his companies had manufactured much of the lead-based paint that taints so many older properties in America. Including Wisconsin. Not long after Simmons’ series of contributions, the Wisconsin Legislature passed and Walker signed in to law a bill barring lawsuits for damages based on exposure to lead-based paint. The federal courts threw out the retroactive ban, but that’s not the point. Only a fool or a politician would believe Simmons didn’t buy a ban on lawsuits from Governor Walker for $750,000. The ban – four words long – was slipped into 600 page budget bill literally after midnight before voting.
Walker may sell himself to donors like a street whore, but he isn’t the only Wisconsin politician to do so. State supreme court justices in Wisconsin are elected. Two of them were beneficiaries of big contributions from donors who had cases before the state supreme court. But refused to disqualify themselves. And, in fact, voted to quash the investigation into Walker’s corruption. The Guardiandetails has the if you have a strong stomach.
WC will give the last word to Donald Trump, himself a big fan of Citizens United and frequent contributor to conservative causes. The Trumpster said, “When you give to them, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”