Voting Blogs: What Matt Bai’s Missing in His Analysis of Whether Citizens United is Responsible for the Big Money Explosion | Election Law Blog

The other day I linked to Matt Bai’s iece upcoming in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, “How Much HasCitizens United Changed the Political Game. The article discusses (though inexplicably does not link to) my recent Slate article, “The Numbers Don’t Lie.”   I promised a response to the article (I gave Matt an extensive interview in his writing of the piece), and here it is. The relevant question is whether Citizens United and its aftermath (namely, the decision in SpeechNowfrom the DC Circuit, and two FEC rulings) is responsible for the explosion of outside money sinceCitizens United.  A few reactions, beginning with the most important.

1. As I told Matt, and what’s missing from this piece, is the realization that there was considerable legal risk in giving to a 527 before Citizens United and its aftermath. As one reader to commented to me, “Matt’s article suggests that not much has changed post-Citizens United because even prior to the CU decision, “you would have been free to write a check for any amount to a 527 . . . .”  This is untrue and all three groups Matt cites were determined by the FEC to have violated federal law during the 2004 cycle.  ACT paid a $775,000 fine (  SwiftVets paid a $299,500 fine (  Club for Growth paid a $350,000 fine (”