Money is not speech & corporations are not people if they disagree with me…
Earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder did an endrun around the state legislature by entering into an “interlocal agreement” with Canada to build a new bridge in Michigan between our two countries. The owner of one of the current bridges, Matty Moroun, has spent enormous sums of money fighting this since it will negatively impact his income. Using paid signature gatherers, Moroun has been able to get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot this fall if it is certified by the Board of State Canvassers.
[Note: the Detroit Free Press has a good summary of the bridge controversy HERE.]
One of Snyder’s top advisors on his endrun, which may actually make the ballot initiative moot, is Richard McLellan, a founding member of the anti-union/pro-business Mackinac Center for Public policy. In this instance, McLellan is in support of the new bridge and, in a piece posted today at MoveToAmend.org titled “Lawyer Who Argued For Citizens United Admits Elections Are Bought”, we learn he is accusing Moroun of trying to “buy the election”.
If you enter into an agreement with a foreign power under the law in effect at the time, you can’t just get out of it because Matty Moroun was able to buy an election.
This is a fascinating statement coming from McLellan. Why? Because as the Move To Amend piece shows, McLellan was actively involved in supporting the right for corporations to spend unlimited money in elections, filing an amicus brief in the Citizens United Supreme Court case. Authors Roman Collins and Jessica Kelton point out McLellan’s hypocrisy:
McLellan later filed an amicus brief in favor of corporate speech when the issue of campaign finance was relitigated again in 2010 in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court’s decision overturned the Michigan Campaign Finance Reform Act and allowed corporations to use treasury money to support or oppose political campaigns – both candidates and ballot measures.
In other words, Mr. Moroun’s company can directly invest its money in the upcoming election to protect his monopoly and paralyze officials from beginning the new bridge construction, and he is diametrically opposed to another big money special interest – business owners looking to profit off increased traffic resulting from the proposed bridge.
Mr. McLellan presumably agrees with the controversial Citizens United decision that “Independent [corporate] expenditures…do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” But it does, however, appear that McLellan has a bias to see corruption when it hampers something he supports. It will be interesting to see if Mr. McLellan reaches to corporate coffers to battle apparent corruption with more apparent corruption.
The hypocrisy is clear. McLellan is in favor of being corporate money in our elections if it’s in his interest and supports something he likes. On the other hand, if it’s something he doesn’t like, it’s suddenly “buying elections”.
So, which is it, Mr. McLellan? Is corporate money corrupting our elections “speech”. Or is it “buying lections”?
Or does that depend on if you agree with the corporations or not?