March 26, 2017
    Citizens United: The after-election issue

    Thinking Aloud, by Ed Dalere

    10/27/2016

    In two weeks the country goes to the polling stations in what has been a presidential election nobody seems all that jazzed about. I think we’ve been mudslinged-out, talking pointed-out, leaked emailed-out, lost emailed-out…so many -outs. I find I go to Chuck Fazio’s Facebook page to find pretty pictures of nature that he takes for American Forests, just so I can see there is beauty and tranquility somewhere in these here United States.

    But alas, we can’t stay escaped, we must face reality. One of those realities is the Citizens United decision. Ever since the Supreme Court handed down that decision, it has been far from settled. But with an even court and a seat that has been open for far too long, for associations this could be the defining issue, more so than healthcare or IRS scrutiny. 

    Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton wants Citizens United overturned, and so do many in Congress and throughout the country. Many others in the same halls don’t agree. As far as I can tell, GOP candidate Donald Trump has been somewhat critical of C.U. in the past, but he hired Citizens United president David Bossie to be his deputy campaign manager.

    Citizens United likely is not among your determining factors when you choose for whom you’ll vote, but association executives need to pay attention to this for after the election: Is the ability to collect and use money without having to disclose donors (“dark money”) something you can do without? Because there is a very good chance that can happen with a new high court make-up. Not right away, a near perfect case to lead to C.U. to being overturned would have to wind its way through the court system first. But also ask yourself this while you have your executive’s cap on: Is this something you can voluntarily give up? It would be a good P.R. move for your association among the general public, but at what cost donationwise?

    There is no easy answer, and I don’t purport to give one. This isn’t an issue to be weighted before the election, but it definitely will be once we have a new president. It will be interesting to see how the new high court will act on this, if at all.


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