Outside conservative groups that were freed from contribution limits by the court's Citizen United ruling have coalesced into a loosely organized political machine that's poised to rival, and in many ways supplant, the official Republican Party apparatus, The New York Times reported over the weekend.
Like the party committees, the groups are funded by some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest donors and operated by some of its most respected operatives and strategists, the paper says. But thanks to the Citizens United ruling, the groups can raise money in unlimited amounts and with little overhead. Much of the money will be spent through nonprofits that aren't required to disclose their donors.
At the same time, the country's biggest publicly traded firms are increasingly choosing to disclose, and in some cases limit, their political donations, according to what's being described as the first comprehensive portrait of S&P 100 companies' behavior since the ruling.
"Our findings ... offer hope for increasing corporate political transparency and accountability at a time when everyone expects massive hidden spending to influence elections," says Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability, which released the report in conjunction with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
"A significant number of companies recognize the risk associated with political spending and a growing number are not taking advantage of Citizens United, at least directly," Freed says.