This article was written by Ryan Sibley, a Sunlight Foundation reporter.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case has rendered 24 state election laws unconstitutional. The 5-4 ruling in favor of Citizens United reversed a provision of the McCain-Feingold act that prohibited any electioneering communication, advertising via broadcast, cable or satellite that is paid for by corporations or labor unions. Many states have acted fast to counter corporations’ ability to spend endless amounts of money to influence elections by passing laws that force disclosure of all independent expenditures in near real time. The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has decided to report what each of these states is doing to respond to the highly-contested ruling. We’ll go state by state, starting with Arizona:
Bill: HB 2788
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case, the state of Arizona has passed a law requiring all corporations and labor unions disclose all independent expenditures made with the intent of influencing the outcome of an election. According to Arizona’s Assistant Secretary of State, Jim Drake, disclosure will have to take place within 24 hours of the money being spent and will be available online to the public immediately.
The Citizens United decision deemed it unconstitutional to prohibit any corporation or labor union from making independent expenditures to support or oppose a candidate. It therefore invalidated the part of Arizona’s election law that made it illegal for corporations or labor unions to spend money on advertising for or against any candidate running for state office.
Arizona’s bill was signed into law on April 1, 2010 with an emergency clause to make it effective as soon as possible. However, because Arizona is one of the states covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, the new legislation has to be approved by the Department of Justice before it will become operational. Drake says the review is due to be complete on June 27, 2010. The bill was passed in both the House and the Senate with unanimous support.
The disclosures are intended to help voters make informed decisions, thus balancing the power of large corporations and labor unions by allowing people to know who is paying for ads and possibly revealing any political agendas.