Michael Bobelian


January 5, 2012

The fallout from the Supreme Court’s 2010 seminal opinion – Citizens United v. FEC – voiding restrictions on election-related speech by corporations (along with labor unions and non-profits) continues to reverberate as we inch along the presidential campaign.  Many political observers are wondering how corporate money will influence the election?

In Montana, that may not be the case – at least for now.

Just before the new year, its Supreme Court held that a state law banning corporate political contributions neither violates the constitution nor the Supreme Court’s edict in Citizens United.

Voters enacted the law in question through a referendum a century ago to counteract corporate influence in politics during a surge of progressive legislation: at Theodore Roosevelt’s urging, for instance, Congress passed the Tillman Act in 1907 prohibiting corporate contributions to candidates or their campaigns.

The Montana law made a similar prohibition while allowing companies to form political action committees to which their shareholders or employees could contribute to.  And it required all contributors to provide their names, preventing companies from hiding behind anonymous donors.

It’s not clear whether the law’s creators had the clairvoyance to see a hundred years into the future but one of the companies suing the state would have probably been the type of operation they had in mind when promulgating the campaign finance law.

Read the entire article, here.