Thanks To The SCOTUS Decision, Hugo Chavez Can Now Run Political Ads In The U.S.

by Ben Hoffman

Yep, Hugo Chavez can now pour millions of dollars into political campaigns in United States elections. If there’s a candidate who’s unfriendly to Venezuela, Chavez can run commercials on TV bashing him or her in an effort to influence the election.

CITGO was purchaced by the Venezuelan government-owned Petróleos de Venezuela in 1990, and since corporations are entitled to free speech, CITCO can finance political campaigns promoting the candidate of their choosing or to defeat candidates they don’t like.

The Saudi government also owns companies in the U.S, so they have the same rights of “free speech.” Same for China and many other countries.

The issue was raised by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent in the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: “It would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans.”

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address the other night, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”

Sometimes it takes a radical push from one side to get real reform. Maybe we’ll get some real campaign finance reform as a result of this radical ruling from the activist right-wing Supreme Court judges.

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48 Comments to “Thanks To The SCOTUS Decision, Hugo Chavez Can Now Run Political Ads In The U.S.”

  1. Ben – public financing of campaigns is, in my opinion, our only hope going forward. Corps and special interests have a near stranglehold now as it is; this ruling will complete the process. We will be a fully corporatist state.

    Many sci-fi writers saw this as our future. Max Headroom had it exactly right in its 1980’s update of 1984.

    • [Ben – public financing of campaigns is, in my opinion, our only hope going forward.]

      You’re right, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Right-wingers will be against that because it’s the government getting involved in even more things. It’s against their ideology, even though it might be the best thing for the country.

      And of course, now that corporations have the right to “free speech” in the form of pouring unlimited amounts of money into elections, they’ll fight it with everything they have.

  2. Unfortunately, very few things change when only facts are introduced. Change usually requires emotional outrage or disaster along with it (notice I didn’t say, “outrage alone”!)

    That’s one reason why I’m a little more bullish on this decision. It should (better?) lead to some discussions on finance campaign reform, HOPEFULLY from both sides.

  3. Hugo Chavez can now pour millions of dollars into political campaigns in United States elections.

    I’m surprised. A Leftist like Chavez is EXACTLY your kinda man.

    The Saudi government also owns companies in the U.S, so they have the same rights of “free speech.”

    Obama has wanted to become more and more friendly with Arab countries. This too should make the Leftists happy.

    “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including unions foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.

    Special interests, not corporations, have BEEN allowed to spend without limit.

  4. Hugo Chavez can now pour millions of dollars into political campaigns in United States elections.

    How could I have forgotten this one?

    He already could have done that had he wanted to.

    Chavez always has been, continues to be so, and most likely will remain, able to purchase advertising on any network he wants.

    I mean, Toyota and Mercedes are foreign owned Corps and they advertise today, yesterday and as far as I can tell, the Left has no plans to deny them that tomorrow.

    The rich gentleman from Texas with his new sustained energy plan; he bought, can today and most certainly will be able to tomorrow, buy adds advocating for clean energy.

    Me thinks thou dost protest too much….

    • Still confused – is everyone upset that now there’s direct, overt influence on our politics by others, or just that it may not fall to their favor?

      • Everyone should be upset but it seems like most of the criticism is coming from the left. Actually, everyone should be outraged that the SCOTUS has decided to make laws. This is the most politicized they have been in my lifetime. They’re supposed to make decisions based on the Constitution — not their political ideology.

      • is everyone upset that now there’s direct, overt influence on our politics by others

        How has Hugo Chavez been prevented from taking out ads before this ruling?

        Or Immelt?

        Or Bill Gates?

        Or What’s His Face Oil man now gone windmill dood?

        Or Labor Unions?

        or just that it may not fall to their favor?

        This is what the Left is seriously upset about. Prior to this, labor could run ad after ad after ad. Could donate to cause after cause after cause. Hell, the NEA for YEARS has listed ZERO donations on their records.

        They’re supposed to make decisions based on the Constitution — not their political ideology.

        I am interested to hear your argument concerning the right of Free Speech.

      • Again, that’s what I’m not getting here. Olbermann is apparently saying that the Supreme Court has “killed” free speech. As I understand it, Citizens United was trying to release an anti-Hillary film, and couldn’t, so it fought right up to the Supreme Court. Wasn’t someone able to release an “Assassination of Bush” film and “W.” around an election as well?

        Money and politics are a bad mix, sure, but I just don’t see how this ruling has “killed” (past tense) free speech. Who’s NOT allowed to support a political party nowadays?

        Sorry if this is naive.

      • As I understand it, Citizens United was trying to release an anti-Hillary film, and couldn’t, so it fought right up to the Supreme Court. Wasn’t someone able to release an “Assassination of Bush” film and “W.” around an election as well?

        Yes. That’s the point.

        Everyone is more free now. Perhaps not happier, bur certainly possessing more Liberty.

    • [Chavez always has been, continues to be so, and most likely will remain, able to purchase advertising on any network he wants.]

      Not political ads. I’m going to look up the bills that contain the laws that exist and the ones that were overturned.

      But what it did was strike down a 63 year old ban on corporations and labor unions paying for campaign ads.

  5. Mr. Hoffman,

    ” Actually, everyone should be outraged that the SCOTUS has decided to make laws. This is the most politicized they have been in my lifetime. They’re supposed to make decisions based on the Constitution — not their political ideology. ”

    What an amazing statement for a Progressive to make.

  6. Steve, your opinion is more than welcome. Just copying and pasting someone else’s opinion is wasting bandwidth. 🙂

  7. [Citizens United was trying to release an anti-Hillary film, and couldn’t]

    Actually, that’s not true. They were free to release the movie in theaters or sell DVDs. They just couldn’t advertise it. They were also going to pay to have it shown on cable, which makes it a political ad.

    [Wasn’t someone able to release an “Assassination of Bush” film and “W.” around an election as well?]

    I assume you haven’t seen either of those movies. They were both commercial movies and they were both sympathetic to Bush. “W” came out in 2008. As far as I know, he wasn’t running for office in 2008. And Death of a President was a British film.

    And don’t forget the movie “Primary Colors” about Bill Clinton that came out in 1998.

    • As far as I know, he wasn’t running for office in 2008.

      It would seem that no, you don’t know, and neither does our President. I mean gawd, how many times do we need to bring Dubya up?

      • Ben meant Bush (not Obama) wasn’t running for office in ’08, which was why the film wouldn’t have been an issue even if it were not a friendly film.

    • Did see W., but didn’t think it was sympathetic. Did see Primary Colors, and wasn’t sure when any of them actually came out (too lazy to look). Besides, neither were on my list of favorites. 🙂

      Interesting distinction re: the release vs. advertising thing.

  8. Speaking of Hugo Chavez, I think he needs all of his political capital at home. Saying bad things about Hugo Chavez on Twitter is now terrorism.

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/29/terrorist-twitter-threatens-hugo-chavezs-stranglehold-media/

    Kinda reminds me of Democrats saying that they could regulate opposition talk radio because it was a form of pornography.

    Funny how freedom of speech is always a problem for leftwingers.

    • [Kinda reminds me of Democrats saying that they could regulate opposition talk radio because it was a form of pornography.]

      There you go again, making stuff up. Prove me wrong. 🙂

  9. Mr. Hoffman,

    “[Kinda reminds me of Democrats saying that they could regulate opposition talk radio because it was a form of pornography.]

    There you go again, making stuff up. Prove me wrong. :)”

    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/chuck-schumer-compares-talk-radio-to-porn

    “Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday defended the so-called Fairness Doctrine in an interview on Fox News, saying, “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?” ”

    “”The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.” …”

    I’ve proven you wrong more than you have me. The defense rests.

  10. Mr. Hoffman,

    “Kinda reminds me of Democrats saying that they could regulate opposition talk radio because it was a form of pornography. ”

    ” “”The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.” …””

    ” He didn’t say opposition talk radio was a form of pornography. There’s nothing in that quote that says anything like that. You made it up. Or maybe you’re hallucinating ”

    Still splitting hairs I see. When you use the example of regulating pornography as justification for attacking the avenue of free speech of your opposition, then the implication is that the free speech of your enemies is pornography.

  11. [When you use the example of regulating pornography as justification for attacking the avenue of free speech of your opposition, then the implication is that the free speech of your enemies is pornography.]

    That’s such a stretch Alan. And it doesn’t hold together at all.

  12. But I thought Hugo was Obama’s buddy?
    They sure have the same ideology.

  13. Ben, after you posted in my blog, I finally checked your out. I love it. This particular post is very good. Keep up the fight.

  14. Ms. Holland,

    [When you use the example of regulating pornography as justification for attacking the avenue of free speech of your opposition, then the implication is that the free speech of your enemies is pornography.]”

    “That’s such a stretch Alan. And it doesn’t hold together at all.”

    I’m sorry to hear that. I was sure that my argument would win over you unbiased independents. I see now that my inadequate effort just was not enough, even with the truth on my side.

    I will just have to work harder and write louder.

  15. Liberals,

    This thread has been quiet and I would like to get back to the original discussion about how the Supreme Court’s decision would undermine our political process.

    I want to point out that most laws limiting campaign money are violated with impunity. I want to show how your party, the Democrats get around the current law. This concerns the Congressional Black Caucus, which in reality is just a wing of the Democratic Party.

    Now I know you wouldn’t trust what I say if I gave FoxNews as a source, so I have found an unimpeachable liberal one, The New York Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/us/politics/14cbc.html?hp

    “In Black Caucus, a Fund-Raising Powerhouse”

    “Most political groups in Washington would have been barred by law from accepting that kind of direct aid from corporations. But by taking advantage of political finance laws, the caucus has built a fund-raising juggernaut unlike anything else in town.

    It has a traditional political fund-raising arm subject to federal rules. But it also has a network of nonprofit groups and charities that allow it to collect unlimited amounts of money from corporations and labor unions”.

  16. Mr. Hoffman,

    Good to hear from you. I hope my persistence in posting was not the reason you needed a break. Anyway, I believe the opposite. The rule is that money is like water in politics. It will find a way around any obstacles like rocks in a stream. The people most strident about making rules to muzzle their opposition are always the most creative in circumventing the rules. My posting is a great example.

    • [I hope my persistence in posting was not the reason you needed a break.]

      With blogging, any readership is good readership. 🙂

      That said, the more money that is allowed in elections, the less voice the individual has.

  17. Ms. Holland,

    ” Why would that be do you think? (certainly not all those black Republicans in Congress.) ”

    There have been black Republicans. That most blacks remain Democrats is their choice. I do not know if there were ever any black Republicans in the Black Caucus. It’s interesting to note that there are not any whites.

    Why would that be ?

  18. Mr. Hoffman,

    Imagine if there was a Congressional White Caucus.

  19. Alan,
    Regarding your water analogy, I like it. It makes sense. You are right to point out how hard it is to remove money from politics. But I’ll take your analogy a step further. We have come up with names for large amounts of uncontrolled water: Floodings, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Blizzards. Water destroys billions of dollars in roads every year. I would never suggest making water illegal, but I would approve of any law that prevented unlimited amounts of water from entering my town, city, house, etc.

    The Citizens United decision has done just that. American politics is about to become flooded. And before you call out any more hypocracy, I am not a democrat. You’re right, they are corrupt. They are hypocrits. I don’t want them having limitless union money either.

    • Book guy:
      I would add that while unions and advocacy nonprofits will jump right in with the corporations now that they’ve been let off the leash, they don’t have “limitless money”. To stay with Alan;s water analogy, I think they will largely be drowned out by those with more money.

  20. Alan,
    Imagine my shock and consternation when I read the NY Time article and had to admit to myself that maybe, just maybe lobbying and corporate money might lead to corruption in government. I even had to rethink the entire Jack Abramoff Is My Hero thing I had going on.

    While this certainly bears investigation and action, (if accurate and not misleading), it only goes to further prove the point that the Supreme Court got this one wrong.

  21. The BookGuy,

    ” Regarding your water analogy, I like it. It makes sense. You are right to point out how hard it is to remove money from politics. ”

    As much as I would love to take credit for that original analogy, I stole it but can’t remember where exactly.

    ” The Citizens United decision has done just that. American politics is about to become flooded. ”

    I do get a lot of my stuff from National Review. Even if the liberals here on this forum would not trust them, I do.

    I will use them as a source to clarify the issue because liberal idiots like everyone on MSNBC have muddied the waters, which is their stock and trade.

    Even President Obama mistakenly said that the Supreme Court reversed ” a century of law “. NR points out that the Citizens United decision basically only overturned a 1991 decision Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that dealt with restrictions on independent corporate money having to do with state elections. It also overturned 2003’s McConnell v. Federal Election Commission.

    The law from a century ago that forbade direct contributions from Corporations to federal office seekers was not affected by Citizens United.

    Also not touched were laws stopping foreign corporations from being involved even indirectly through contributions to federal elections. They cannot be involved with a US Corporation decisions on federal elections. They cannot even use a US subsidiary to influence federal elections.

    NR said that the Bi-partisan Campaign Reform Act is what gave us the infamous 527s which kept the money flowing in the 2004 election. The swift boaters and moveon.org are the two most remembered.

    Conservative lie,

    ” While this certainly bears investigation and action, (if accurate and not misleading), it only goes to further prove the point that the Supreme Court got this one wrong. ”

    As I pointed out above Citizens United leaves a lot of protection in place. I also want to note, according to NR, that even before this decision SEIU managed to get around the laws, with ” union political action committees and get out the vote drives ” to spend $85 million during the 08 election for Democrats.

    • [I do get a lot of my stuff from National Review. Even if the liberals here on this forum would not trust them, I do.]

      NR is an opinion site. While you may agree with the opinions posted on the site, that doesn’t make them facts.

  22. Mr. Hoffman,

    I subscribe to NR, so I have the hard copy. Granted the opinion parts I posted are their opinion. As far as the factual items I posted, the $ 85 million SEIU gave to Democrats, the parts of the laws that the Citizens United decision did not over turn, if you can find proof they are errors, I will concede.

    Perhaps NR is wrong or in my restating them here I made errors. As of yet they are facts until you prove they are not.

    • [The law from a century ago that forbade direct contributions from Corporations to federal office seekers was not affected by Citizens United.]

      That’s true, they can’t give directly to candidates, but they can now spend unlimited amounts of money directly on ads that would help or hurt candidates.

      [Also not touched were laws stopping foreign corporations from being involved even indirectly through contributions to federal elections. They cannot be involved with a US Corporation decisions on federal elections. They cannot even use a US subsidiary to influence federal elections.]

      That’s a pretty vague area when it comes to multi-national corporations, such as with CITCO.

  23. Mr. Hoffman,

    I’m a little surprised you would be concerned about Citco. The way I see it, if the Feds enforce the law, Citco should not be a problem. Also, Chavez hates Republicans more than he hates your side.

    Chavez actually hates all American capitalists almost as much as Obama. 🙂

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