A day after snubbing liberal activists who were pushing for tougher campaign-finance regulations, President Obama took a swipe at the Supreme Court Wednesday for its “wrong” ruling five years ago on the issue.
“Five years ago, a Supreme Court ruling allowed big companies – including foreign corporations – to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “The Citizens United decision was wrong, and it has caused real harm to our democracy.”
The president said it was time to “reverse” the trend of unlimited spending on political ads by third parties, but he offered no solutions.
“With each new campaign season, this dark money floods our airwaves with more and more political ads that pull our politics into the gutter,” Mr. Obama said. “Rather than bolster the power of lobbyists and special interests, Washington should lift up the voices of ordinary Americans and protect their democratic right to determine the direction of the country that we love.”
Thursday is the five-year anniversary of the Citizens United ruling, a 5-4 decision that fueled the expansion of political nonprofits and super PACs spending unlimited sums of money on campaign advertising and other election activities.
Activists had been urging Mr. Obama to issue a call for more campaign-finance regulations in his State of the Union addressTuesday night, but he made only a passing reference to the subject.
“A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America,” Mr. Obama said in the speech.
There has been speculation that the president might take executive action on the issue.
Mr. Obama said Wednesday, “Our democracy works best when everyone’s voice is heard, and no one’s voice is drowned out.”
The president criticized the Supreme Court ruling in his 2010 State of the Union address, saying it reversed a century of law and would lead to foreign money in campaigns. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, sitting in the audience, mouthed the words “not true.”
During the 2012 election, Mr. Obama agreed to a super PAC that raised about $75 million for his re-election effort.