'Weak taxation' and 'anemic regulation' opened the door for billionaires to spend staggering amounts on elections

'Weak taxation' and 'anemic regulation' opened the door for billionaires to spend staggering amounts on elections
Supreme Court of the United States

Billionaire election spending has drastically increased over the last 12 years as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, according to TruthOut.

Americans For Fair Taxation (AFFT) recently analyzed data that breaks down election campaign contributions. Their assessment suggests that there is an upward trend in billionaire donations to political campaigns. Per the assessment, "billionaires have increased their donations from $31 million total during the 2010 election cycle to a whopping $1.2 billion in the 2020 election cycle, or about 39 times more."

In short, the amount spent in just 2020 accounts for almost 40% of all billionaire political campaign donations since 1990. In fact, spending in the four-year span between 2012 and 2016 is an indication of how trends have changed dramatically.

In 2016, billionaires spent approximately $682 million in campaign donations as opposed to just $233 million back in 2012. So how did the Citizens United ruling open this door?

Per Truthout:

"In January of 2010, conservative Supreme Court justices ruled in their Citizens United decision that restricting corporate donations was a violation of corporations’ First Amendment rights – a decision that granted individual rights to corporations and enabled them to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign contributions. As a result of this decision, vast amounts of money from corporate and deep-pocketed interests have been funneled into elections."

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness released a statement criticizing the court's decision describing it as "weak taxation of the wealthy" and "anemic regulation."

“On this anniversary of the disastrous Citizens United decision, the escalating campaign donations of billionaires offer the clearest argument possible for why we have to get big money out of politics,” said Clemente. “Weak taxation of the wealthy combined with anemic regulation of campaign fundraising have handed America’s billionaires outsized political influence to go along with their huge economic clout.”

AFFT also released a statement criticizing the ruling.

“Corporations are not people, and billionaires shouldn’t get to use their enormous wealth to pick and choose who they want in office,” Americans for Tax Fairness wrote. “It’s well beyond time for Citizens United to go, and to put real action towards getting big money out of politics. Our democracy depends on it.”

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