Democrats Are Hypocrites On Citizens United, and These Two Charts Prove It

I remember the statements by President Obama when the Supreme Court made its Citizens United ruling:

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates."

The tone was very similar to that of other Democratic congressmen and senators, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Feinstein (Calif.), and Leahy (Vt.). But actions speak louder than words, right?


For an interactive version of this map, click here.

A new study by the Center for Public Integrity found that Democratic groups, especially those backed by unions, have actually been benefiting the most from the Citizens United ruling. According to the study, in the 2012 cycle outside groups spent $209 million on candidates in state-level races in 38 states. Furthermore, the study points out, "pro-Democratic groups, many associated with unions, outspent their Republican counterparts by more than $8 million in those states."

As seen in the 2012 election cycles, the Democratic Party and its supporters have made heavy and increasing use of outside groups that do not disclose their donors. Even liberal MSNBC reported that the number of Democratic outside groups has seen a sharp rise.

In the recent Virginia gubernatorial race, for example, Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli faced attack ads from several outside groups ranging from Planned Parenthood to Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, Sierra Club, and SEIU (to be honest, Cuccinelli didn't make it hard for them). This whole effort, in other words, was orchestrated by Democratic special interest groups — the same groups that decried the Citizens United ruling when it came out. In 2014 and beyond, we can expect to see similar tactics and a continued rise in outside-group activity, especially from the Democratic camp. The election finance transparency group OpenSecrets has already found that to date, liberal outside groups have spent more money on the 2014 election cycle than their conservative counterparts. 


I understand, money buys votes. But what I don't like is the hypocrisy of the Democratic groups who blasted the Citizens United ruling in the beginning but are now using it to further their own agenda. I hope some members of the Democratic camp (perhaps Senator Elizabeth Warren) call their fellow-travelers out on it. 

It just goes to show, the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat is how fast they drop to their knees in the face of special interests. It looks like right now, the Democrats are dropping down faster. 

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Minh Mai

Stats and numbers guy. Regrets his B.A. in Philosophy and his MPA. Whiskey on the rocks. Healthcare Policy Wonk. Doesn't vote Democrat. Doesn't vote Republican. Part-time company dancer. Dogs > Cats. Loves tattoos. Runs on little sleep. All thoughts are my own.

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