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Citizens United real impact on WI recall: zero

Associated Press Published: June 6, 2012

There is no doubt that conservatives' money advantage played a big part in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's victory last night. As someone who has walked precincts in a House race where we were outspent three-to-one, I am well aware of how a bombardment of television ads can change an election. But liberals are just dead wrong when they blame Walker's victory on the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent cites the decision no less than five times in his Wisconsin write-up, including:

An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity found that Walker outraised his vanquished opponent Tom Barrett by nearly eight to one, and that outside groups supporting Walker vastly outspent unions, thanks to Citizens United.

But the Center for Public Integrity link Sargent provides proves no such thing. Yes, Barrett was outspent heavily. But none of the money spent on Walker's behalf would have been illegal before Citizens United either. Here is what CPI does report:

Tuesday’s recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is the most expensive in Wisconsin history. More than $63.5 million has been spent by candidates and independent groups, the overwhelming majority underwritten by out-of-state sources.

True. But nothing in Wisconsin law outlawed out of state political spending before or after Citizens United.

Walker, meanwhile, has benefitted from the state’s election finance rules that allowed his campaign to raise unlimited contributions from individuals after recall petitions were filed in November 2011. His challengers could take no more than $10,000 from individuals.

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