Mick Mulaney Sold Access to Lobbyists as a Member of Congress (But Don’t Worry Because That’s Not Corruption According to Justice Kennedy)

NYT:

Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told banking industry executives and lobbyists on Tuesday that they should increase their campaign donations to influence lawmakers, revealing that he would meet only with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign when he served in the House.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, told 1,300 bankers and lobbyists at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Citizens United v. FEC (2010 opinion by Justice Kennedy):

     The McConnell record was “over 100,000 pages” long, McConnell I , 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 209, yet it “does not have any direct examples of votes being exchanged for . . . expenditures,” id. , at 560 (opinion of Kollar-Kotelly, J.). This confirms Buckley ’s reasoning that independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption. In fact, there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate. See 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 555–557 (opinion of Kollar-Kotelly, J.). Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption. The BCRA record establishes that certain donations to political parties, called “soft money,” were made to gain access to elected officials. McConnell supra , at 125, 130–131, 146–152; see McConnell I , 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 471–481, 491–506 (opinion of Kollar-Kotelly, J.); id. , at 842–843, 858–859 (opinion of Leon, J.). This case, however, is about independent expenditures, not soft money. When Congress finds that a problem exists, we must give that finding due deference; but Congress may not choose an unconstitutional remedy. If elected officials succumb to improper influences from independent expenditures; if they surrender their best judgment; and if they put expediency before principle, then surely there is cause for concern. We must give weight to attempts by Congress to seek to dispel either the appearance or the reality of these influences. The remedies enacted by law, however, must comply with the First Amendment ; and, it is our law and our tradition that more speech, not less, is the governing rule. An outright ban on corporate political speech during the critical preelection period is not a permissible remedy. Here Congress has created categorical bans on speech that are asymmetrical to preventing quid pro quo corruption.

 

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