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The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board agreed this morning to ask staff to prepare a memorandum to guide members in determining its next move after the U.S. Supreme Court's January decision to allow corporations to pay for political advertisements made independently of candidate campaigns.

Campaign Finance Board ponders its next move after Supco decision

The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board agreed this morning to ask staff to prepare a memorandum to guide members in determining its next move after the U.S. Supreme Court’s January decision to allow corporations to pay for political advertisements made independently of candidate campaigns.

“This is going to generate an awful lot of scheming,” board chair Bob Milbert said after listening to Gary Goldsmith, the board’s executive director, outline the issues that the board needs to consider. “All we’re trying to do is provide a little framework to allow people some guidance on how to proceed.”

In its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) decision, the high court ruled that Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit organization, could legally advertise for a film it produced, “Hillary: The Movie.” Previously, provisions of the Campaign Reform Act of 2002 disallowed such expenditures.

The ruling opened the door for corporations nationwide to make independent political expenditures, or political ads that advocate a position but are made without the approval or under the jurisdiction of a political candidate or party.

Campaign Finance Board members agreed unanimously today to ask staff to prepare a memorandum detailing its options.

The main issue: whether corporations making independent expenditures should be subject to additional disclosure provisions, specifically whether a corporation must disclose whether the money used came from business income or contribution income.

“The interpretation of the board has always been in favor of disclosure,” Goldsmith told board members. “[The affected statute] is one that we presume to be in the public interest and, to some extent, contrary to private interests. That’s the general approach we have always taken when we look at how to apply the law.”

The board will consider the staff memorandum at its next meeting on May 4.


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