Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is reportedly furious over a proposal by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to end unlimited corporate donations to Political Action Committees (PACs), a central aspect of the Citizens United decision which has helped bankroll GOP groups for over a decade.
According to The Hill, citing multiple senators, the bill landed with a ‘thud’ during the Senate GOP conference – as the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), born out of the Citizens United decision, has been one of the most prominent groups supporting GOP incumbents in the chamber.
The bill, titled the Ending Corporate Influence on Elections Act, would overturn a cornerstone of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision that dealt a major blow to campaign finance laws. Hawley has been hostile to corporate America and has criticized its mentality as “woke,” especially after a number of corporations said they would no longer give funds to those who voted against certification of the 2020 election results Jan. 6, 2021. -The Hill
Hawley says McConnell is “dead wrong” on this, and that Republicans need to “get consent” on the topic.
“He doesn’t like my bill,” said Hawley, adding “As an originalist, there is no original meaning giving corporations the right to make political contributions, and it’s warping our politics. It is giving them incredible power, and I just think it’s a big mistake.”
“The overwhelming majority of Republican voters think he’s wrong. They don’t want more woke, corporate money in our politics. You can’t complain about Major League Baseball doing what they’ve done, and you can’t complain about Coca-Cola and all of these things and decry all of that, and then turn around and have your hand out and say, ‘Please give me the money.’ It’s one or the other,” Hawley continued, referring to comments made by McConnell two years ago that corporate money should stay out of politics.
Hawley’s proposal leaves other aspects of the Citizens United ruling untouched, such as so-called “dark money” rules that allow funds to be spent on electoral matters without revealing donors.
That said, simply ending corporate donations would vastly change the current political landscape.
According to sources, the GOP leader at the Senate lunch listed off a number of Senate Republicans who were direct benefactors of corporate donations via the SLF: Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Susan Collins (Maine), Steve Daines (Mont.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Katie Britt (Ala.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Ted Budd (N.C.), JD Vance (Ohio) and Ron Johnson (Wis.).
Hawley is also among that group, as the SLF spent more than $20 million to boost Hawley in his 2018 race against then-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). McCaskill raised $38.9 million during the campaign, compared to $11.8 million for Hawley, with the SLF helping to bridge that gap. -The Hill
McConnell ally Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), said that he has 1st Amendment concerns regarding Hawley’s proposal, and said that the Court “got it right” 13 years ago.
“I don’t think we need to unilaterally disarm, which is what I think that [proposal] would be,” he said.