Supreme Court Cuts Corporations Loose

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned campaign financing prohibitions, opening the door for corporations and unions to spend at will on political advertising.

Those elements turned over include a 63-year old law barring corporations and unions from directly buying campaign ads. It also overturned part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold act that prohibited corporations or unions from airing issue-oriented ads 30 days before a primary and 60 days before an election. Both entities are also now allowed to set up political action committees that can contribute directly to candidates.

The ruling potentially means a windfall for TV and radio stations, which rise and fall on election revenue. Political spending generated $2 billion for local TV stations in 2008 and 2006. In 2007, the last off-election year totaled, political generated $700 million for local TV stations. Ad agency Magna recently predicted that political advertising across all local mediums would reach more than $2.7 billion.

President Obama objected to the Supreme Court decision, saying it gave too much power to special interest groups. He said he would ask Congress to effectively reverse it.

“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” Obama said in a statement. “It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.”