POLITICS
02/24/2012 05:56 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2012

HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Citizens United Confusion

When did it get so confusing? Over the past month certain voices have popped up to declare that the press is providing misleading coverage on both super PACs and the Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United ruling. The argument goes something like this, press claims that Citizens United led to the creation of super PACs are false and misleading. There was another court case, SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), decided by an appeals court that created super PACs. Lawyer Floyd Abrams, his son Dan Abrams, and today, in The Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer make this argument. (Correction: Due to an editing error this article originally referred to Floyd Abrams as a "conservative lawyer." That description has since been changed.)

The problem with this is obvious when you look at the court record. SpeechNow, which was asking for permission to raise unlimited sums from individuals to spend on independent campaign efforts, lost it's initial case when the district court ruled that the government had an interest in deterring corruption, or the appearance of corruption, that could result from unlimited contributions pooled into political committees. SpeechNow appealed the ruling and their case sat before an appeals court when Citizens United was decided.

The appeals court found that Citizens United, which freed corporations and unions to spend money freely on independent electoral efforts, had essentially decided SpeechNow for them. This is because Justice Kennedy determined that independent spending, what SpeechNow was asking to engage in, could not be corrupting. Hence, Kennedy's assertion in Citizens United decided the SpeechNow case for the appeals court.

The FEC followed up after the appeals court ruling, which was based on the Citizens United reasoning, and created the "independent expenditure-only committee," otherwise known as the super PAC. Ergo, Citizens United, through Kennedy's assertion that independent spending cannot corrupt, led to the creation of super PACs. Hope that clears that up.

See also this explanation from Rick Hasen for further reference.

Now back to your regularly scheduled campaign finance links:

The network of financial backers for Mitt Romney's presidential bid have been supporting him for a long, long time. Jonathan Salant takes a deep dive into Romney's network of donors.

Romney has posted four new ads to his YouTube account, all of which attack Rick Santorum. See our Ad Watch section below for these ads.

A Securities and Exchange Commission official is calling on the SEC to require firms to disclose their political spending.

The New York Times has this editorial: Super PAC donors with an agenda.

The newest $1 million donor to Rick Santorum's super PAC is keeping mum.

Rick Santorum attended a fundraising event for his super PAC Red White And Blue Fund.

Oscar nominees are also campaign donors.

Bill Maher announced he is giving $1 million to the Obama super PAC.

A cool infographic on super PAC spending.

AD WATCH

Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

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Candidate Opposed: Rick Santorum
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Committee: Mitt Romney for President
Candidate Opposed: Rick Santorum
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Market: Unknown.
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Committee: Mitt Romney for President
Candidate Opposed: Rick Santorum
Spot: "Never"
Market: Unknown.
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Committee: Mitt Romney for President
Candidate Opposed: Rick Santorum
Spot: "Arlen and Rick"
Market: Unknown.
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Committee: Restore Our Future
Candidate Opposed: Rick Santorum
Spot: "Values"
Market: Michigan.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Red White And Blue Fund
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich
Spot: "Obama"
Market: Unknown.
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Committee: Rick Santorum for President
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Your Side"
Market: Michigan.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: MoveOn.org
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
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Committee: American Bridge 21st Century
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TRACKING INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Newt Gingrich (R), $6,435,761 to support, $17,942,276 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $4,025,843 to support, $6,472,823 to oppose. (+$124,044)
Mitt Romney (R), $2,216,953 to support, $5,302,658 to oppose.
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R),$3,688,139 to support, $133,333 to oppose. (+$5,112)
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $287,153 to support, $760,389 to oppose.
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

Endorse Liberty, $2,125 to support Ron Paul for President.
Susan B. Anthony List, $39,183 to support Rick Santorum for President.
Endorse Liberty, $2,987 to support Ron Paul for President.
Red White And Blue Fund, $7,446 to support Rick Santorum for President in Michigan.
Red White And Blue Fund, $77,415 to support Rick Santorum for President in Tennessee.
Eagle Forum, $20,000 to support Rick Santorum for President in Michigan.
Campaign For Primary Accountability, $15,599 to support Debbie Halvorsen for Congress in Illinois' 2nd District.
Campaign For Primary Accountability, $116,111 to oppose Marcy Kaptur for Congress in Ohio's 9th District.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS
TN4UPAC, Nashville, Tenn., Treasurer: Troy Brewer. (Leadership PAC)
Accomplish Our Mission, Salt Lake City, Utah, Treasurer: Terry Lee Smith. (Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney)

Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

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