Sheldon Whitehouse Blames Citizens United on Bayh, Feingold Losing Their Races in 2016

July 9, 2018

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) on Monday blamed the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling on multiple Democratic candidates losing during the 2016 election cycle, citing dark money in those races.

Whitehouse appeared on MSNBC's "The Beat" to discuss President Donald Trump's upcoming Supreme Court announcement later Monday night  when he was asked whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) gets rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court seat from then-President Barack Obama in 2016.

"Absolutely. And if you look at the other cycle that he is in you've got a Republican-controlled Supreme Court with five justices that did the Citizens United decision, which opened up unlimited political money, which then fell in on Democratic senate candidates like Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold and Governor Strickland, and so massacred them so early in the race that their double-digit leads shrank away and they all lost. And that's why Mitch is now the Majority Leader," Whitehouse said.

The Citizens United decision says that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns. However, the spending must be independent from candidates and political parties.

He went on to say that the Supreme Court that McConnell has appointed has given him and his backers the "dark money power" that has helped him as Majority Leader.

Whitehouse did not mention that Feingold, who positioned himself on the forefront of campaign finance reform battles during his early senate days, accepted $700,000 in contributions bundled by lobbyists and received millions of dollars in donations from special interests during his 2016 loss.

The Democratic senator also did not mention some of the issues that hurt Bayh in his Senate race, including reports that he failed to maintain a residence in Indiana and even had his voting status in the state declared inactive. It was also reported that he skipped 76 percent of Armed Services hearings and 92 percent of Aging Committee hearings.