About That Corporate Takeover of Politics


New York Times editorial board members, as noted last week, believe that Citizens United vs. FEC "has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding." They should think about reading their own paper, where David Kirkpatrick on Sunday asked "legal scholars and social scientists" about corporate corruption of politics, and found that "the evidence is meager, at best." From the piece:

"There is no evidence that stricter campaign finance rules reduce corruption or raise positive assessments of government," said Kenneth Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It seems like such an obvious relationship but it has proven impossible to prove." […]

Australia barely regulates political money. Individuals and corporations can give without limit. Parties can spend freely. And there is not much disclosure about who gives what to whom. But political corruption has not threatened a vibrant democracy there.

In the United States, studies comparing states like Virginia with scant regulation against those like Wisconsin with strict rules have not found much difference in levels of corruption or public trust, several scholars said. Jeff Milyo, an economist at the University of Missouri, has compared states with strict bans on corporate contributions to political parties against those with no limits at all. "There is just no good evidence that campaign finance laws have any effect on actual corruption," he said.

Whole thing here.