Citizens United case continues its march to thwart campaign finance restrictions

Campaign finance spending will exceed $6 billion this year, and one man deserves a fair amount of the credit — election lawyer James Bopp, architect of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court case and ideological crusader against state-based campaign finance laws that limit corporate expenditure, as The Texas Independent recently reported.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “organizations not directly affiliated with political parties accounted for $4,503,249″ of the $7,547,465 outside groups spent during the 2010 election cycle.

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this [regulation] down,” Bopp told the New York Times after the Citizens United case. “And if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

His critics agree – Scott Thomas, a former Democratic Federal Election Commission chairman, said Bopp’s cases have almost entirely neutered the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that was intended to curb the influence of wealthy donors and outside groups.

“We should now call the statute, ‘The Federal Election Campaign Act paid for and authorized by Jim Bopp,’” Thomas told Bloomberg.

On the basis that any regulation of corporate donations is an affront to free speech, the Indiana-based Bopp has filed 21 of 31 lawsuits challenging disclosure limits in states including California, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Montana, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington state and Vermont. The Minnesota Independent has reported on Bopp’s activity in the state.

In fact, the litigation now pushed by Bopp on the state-level stage often goes beyond Citizens United.

As The Texas Independent reported, the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center, commenting on the conservative Texas’s group King Street Patriots (KSP) challenge to the suggestion they need to name their donors, said, “KSP stretches the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United beyond the breaking point.”

Most recently, Bopp has been working with North Carolina Right to Life to overturn North Carolina’s campaign spending law and with Montana’s American Tradition Partnership to challenge that state’s ban on corporate donations.

“We have been awfully successful,” Bopp said of his nation-wide campaigns, “and we are not done yet.”