The NY Times fulminates (yet again!) against the shadowy groups airing their views and trying to influence the rest of us.
Secret Donors Finance Fight Against Hagel
A brand new conservative group calling itself Americans for a Strong Defense and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, saying he would make the United States “a weaker country.”
The media campaign to scuttle Mr. Hagel’s appointment, unmatched in the annals of modern presidential cabinet appointments, reflects the continuing effects of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which loosened campaign finance restrictions and was a major reason for the record spending by outside groups in the 2012 election. All told, these independent and largely secretly financed groups spent well over $500 million in an attempt to defeat Mr. Obama and the Democrats, a failure that seemed all the greater given the huge amounts spent.
I know what you're thinking - Chuck Hagel is not a candidate for elective office, there are no elections in sight (a small favor for which we are grateful), and this is really no different from advocating a view on global warming, gun control, immigration, or any other topic of interest. So why are we reading about Citizen's United, which dealt with the McCain-Feingold restrictions on electioneering?
A good question, which the Times addresses in paragraph seven:
Groups like his would have been able to operate freely against Mr. Hagel even before Citizens United.
But the ruling has served to erase what had been traditional fears among donors that their involvement in the fight of the day would lead to legal trouble or, for those who prefer to stay anonymous, unwanted public exposure. That confidence, in turn, has helped spur the increase in the number of political organizations that pop up to engage in the big political entanglement of the moment.
So what ought to be free, unrestricted speech is more likely to be so after Citizen's United. I understand why that troubles the Times, which would prefer that others be forced to set down their megaphones. But what about the rest of us?