One of the important findings from yesterday’s major CFI Report on campaign finance that has gone unnoticed so far is that Citizens United did not lead to a significant increase in election spending by publicly-traded corporations. As the introduction to the report puts it:
The case did indeed increase the importance of independent expenditures. However, the much-predicted explosion in spending by large, publicly traded corporations just has not happened. This is consistent with what political scientists have known for years about the way most corporations prefer to engage in electoral politics.
As the report indicates, at the time Citizens United was decided, many of us predicted that the decision would not lead to a dramatic increase in election spending from publicly-traded corporations. But you wouldn’t know this hasn’t happened from much of the public and political commentary, which conflates the dramatic increase in independent spending funded by wealthy individuals with inaccurate claims about “corporate spending” that Citizens United supposedly unleashed.