Voting Blogs: Foreign Corporations, Non-profits and the Holding of Citizens United | Money, Politics and the Law

Days after Citizens United v. FEC was decided, President Obama famously said at his 2010 State of the Union address that he believed the decision would “open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limits in our elections.”  There may be loopholes which allow foreign corporations to donate through American entities, but not only arecorporations generally not funding super PACs, the ban on money accepted directly from foreign corporations appears to be being followed.  Last month, Rick Santorum’s super PAC returned a $50,000 donation from such a corporation. The Internal Revenue Service has also said non-profit organizations under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (which applies to charitable organizations) are banned from contributing to super PACs.  (In contrast, non-profit social welfare organizations organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Code may donate to political causes as long as that is not their main activity.  Professor Rick Hasen has more on 501(c) non-profit donations after Citizens United)  This ban from the IRS led to Mitt Romney’s super PACrefunding a $100,000 check from a 501(c)(3) charity. But here’s the important question from a legal standpoint: under the holding of Citizens United, should either of these bans be constitutional?

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