Posted on July 21, 2016 (October 2, 2018) Share: “Having met with skepticism earlier this month when they lodged an FEC complaint challenging super PACs, reform advocates are now rallying behind a St. Petersburg ordinance that would ban super PACs locally.” Justin Miller of The American Prospect reported on our latest initiative to abolish super PAC spending and ban foreign-influenced corporations from spending in local Florida elections. The proposed ordinance will be decided upon by the St. Petersburg city council, after a 6-1 vote today agreeing to move the ordinance forward. More than six years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the free-spending super PACs that many progressives consider a blight on American democracy are the target of a multi-pronged campaign to put them out of business. Step one was a Federal Election Commission complaint earlier this month by pro-reform advocacy groups, lawmakers, and congressional candidates. The complaint takes legal aim at SpeechNow.org v. FEC, a lower court ruling that ushered in super PACs in the wake of Citizens United. Spearheaded by the campaign-finance reform group Free Speech For People, that complaint holds out the promise of a legal challenge that could wend its way to the Supreme Court. But it has met with skepticism from campaign-finance experts who contend that the strategy is destined to fail. That explains step two, a local ordinance scheduled to be introduced July 21 by a council member in the beachfront city of St. Petersburg, Florida. The ordinance would establish contribution limits for independent-expenditure committees, essentially abolishing super PACs in the city. The law would also require that corporations that contribute money to local elections certify that they are not wholly or significantly influenced by foreign entities. Supporters of this ordinance see it as model legislation that could be emulated across the country and as a potential vehicle for a legal challenge that could invite the Supreme Court to reconsider the constitutionality of super PACs. These PACs may collect unlimited sums from billionaire corporate donors, so long as they operate independently from candidates. In 2014, super PACs raised nearly $700 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and oftentimes outspent the campaigns of the candidates they supported. “This a serious issue in this country,” said Darden Rice, the St. Petersburg councilmember sponsoring the ordinance, in an interview. Super PACs “have a corrosive effect on our elections,” he continued. “City halls have basic, important duties, but we also have responsibility to look ahead, think creatively, seize opportunities to address issues that impact our citizens.” The number of super PACs in Florida has reportedly doubled since 2012, and donor contributions have soared, leaving the door open, Florida watchdogs say, to corruption or the appearance of corruption. And while outside spending has yet to take over St. Petersburg politics, Rice says he is introducing his ordinance as a preventive measure, which he regards as necessary since the city is set to consider a series of high-stakes capital projects, including a new baseball stadium. The FEC complaint and the Florida ordinance are part of a multi-part challenge to the legality of super PACs spearheaded by the campaign-finance reform group Free Speech For People. The group and its allies are working with a “dream team” of lawyers, including Harvard University constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, University of Chicago law professor Albert Alschuler, and former White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen, among others. Their legal target is SpeechNow.org v. FEC. While Citizens United is widely blamed for big-money super PACs, it was SpeechNow that actually established the legal precedent for such PACs’ existence. In SpeechNow, the D.C. circuit court ruled that—in light of Citizens United—unlimited contributions to independent-expenditure political action committees do not give rise to corruption or its appearance, because those PACs are not coordinating with candidates or parties. Click here to read the article in its entirety on The American Prospect.