Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State, analyzes a wide range of cases to show how corporations have leveraged rights originally reserved for citizens to expand their influence and avoid regulation. It’s a phenomenon that dates as far back as the Gilded Age but that, [Ciara] Torres-Spelliscy argues, has been vastly accelerated by the current Supreme Court and especially by its 2010 decision in Citizens United.
To Torres-Spelliscy, there are “two big problems” with corporate spending on elections. “Under current American law, there is no requirement for the corporation to tell its investors that it’s spending in politics,” she said. “And the other problem is there’s no opportunity for shareholders in American companies to vote on whether it’s appropriate to be in politics at all. So we have this transparency problem and this consent problem.”
Further complicating the situation is that allowing corporations to spend in elections raises immediate problems with the enforcement of existing U.S. law that bar foreigners from donating to U.S. candidates. Torres-Spelliscy’s favorite example for illustrating the dilemma is Citgo, the gasoline company owned by the government of Venezuela.