The Supreme Court’s Gift to the Chamber of Commerce


Green groups are lambasting Thursday’s Supreme Court decision striking down limits on corporate election advertising as a handout to dirty energy interests, big business groups, and other foes of environmental regulations.

Cathy Duvall, political director of Sierra Club, warned in a statement that the ruling will unleash a “tidal wave of special interest cash and influence peddling” on the electoral process. The decision, Duvall noted, will give even more power to major lobbying groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, that regularly oppose environmental regulations. The Chamber’s Michigan division was a party to one of the campaign finance cases the Court ruled on today, which could allow the organization to spend similar sums on political advertising as it currently does on lobbying. According to fourth-quarter filings released yesterday, the Chamber spent $71 million on lobbying last quarter, bringing the group’s 2009 total to $123 million, more than it has ever spent. By comparison, its political action committee has been spending small change—just $248,381 in 2008 and $235,233 in 2006. The Chamber has pledged to wage its “most aggressive” election fight ever in 2010, and earlier announced it had amassed a $100 million war chest for lobbying and political advocacy this year.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said the decision will “open the floodgates for oil companies like Exxon.” He noted that Exxon Mobil’s PAC spent just over $811,000 on the 2008 election, but would now be free to pour massive sums into political advertising—”potentially drowning out the voices of the majority of Americans who support investing in clean American energy and reducing harmful carbon pollution.”

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.