Today the Campaign Finance Institute released a working paper which shows that the dramatic increase in independent spending among states since the historic Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC is from party network organizations, not corporations or unions. The paper found no systematic increase in independent spending across states by corporations, labor unions, umbrella business organizations or ideological groups. Translation: According to Keith Hamm, Michael Malbin, Jaclyn Kettler, and Brendan Glavin, Citizens United did not have the kind of direct impact on independent spending patterns that has been assumed.
The paper's findings are yet another reminder that we are only beginning to understand the consequences of this monumental case. They use the states to test some of the key assumptions about Citizens United's ubiquitous impact. Their findings include:
- Between 2006 and 2010, independent spending increased by 43%, compared to a mere 14% increase in contributions directly to candidates.
- There was a significant increase in outside spending for both states that had banned corporate spending (up 65%) and those that had not (up 36%).
- Spending increased most in "party affiliated" organizations and labor organizations. Interestingly, the increase in labor spending is mostly in CA, where there was no prior prohibition.
- "Party affiliated" organizations, with names like the Republican Governors' Association outpaced "party allied" organizations, or super PACs, tremendously.
- Contribution limits, thought to increase the likelihood of outside spending, do in fact increase it—but for party affiliated organizations, not ideological organizations and umbrella groups.
- Business spending actually decreased between 2006-2010.
We're anxious to see how outside spending adds up after 2012. In the meantime, you can download and the read the paper in its entirety here.