Volume 24, 2013
Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Meeting
John M. Holcomb
Corporate Electoral Activities and the 2012 Elections
Impact of the Citizens United Decision
This paper challenges the conventional wisdom concerning the impact of the Citizens United v. FEC decision by examining the flow of corporate money into the 2012 election. The decision, which is consistent with most prior case law and was not a radical departure, promoted the use of super PACs and 501-c(4) committees for political money that were not widely used by corporations, and the super PACs and c-4 committees were largely ineffective in the 2012 election. They also did not produce a marked advantage for the Republican Party, especially in the presidential election. The Citizens United decision did, however, lead to other legal and regulatory developments in an effort to promote greater disclosure, though those developments have not been successful. Investors have been somewhat more successful in promoting limits on corporate political spending through shareholder proposals. Some state laws and upcoming court cases may
limit other restrictions on political contributions.