Backgrounder Entries

Landmark Decision: Citizens United and Washington

Capitol Hill is becoming increasingly affected by the Citizen's United ruling. (Photo: Catherine Cloutier)Slightly more than a year after going into effect, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision is having a profound effect on national and local politics.

Citizens United — as it is commonly called — reversed the ban on corporate spending on political broadcasts and introduced the rather controversial notion that corporations should be treated the same as ordinary citizens under the First Amendment.

Graphic: How Money Flows Into Campaigns

Presidential candidates spent $1.8 billion running for office in the 2008 election cycle. In the 2010 mid-terms, $3.9 billion was spent on Congressional elections. The 2012 elections are expected to break new records in campaign finance. Here's a look at where that money comes from and how it's used.

Backgrounder: The Money Behind California's Open Primaries

How Prop 14 works. Click to enlarge. (Jessica Porter)Yesterday Republican Sharon Runner of Lancaster and Democrat Ted Lieu of Torrance became the first to win office outright under the new open primary system in California. Because both candidates won more than 50 percent of the vote, respectively, neither will have to go to a runoff.

In the past, one candidate from every political party was put on a ballot for the general election. Under the new system, which was voted into law as Proposition 14 last June, all candidates are lumped into a single primary. If no one wins a majority of the vote, the top two, regardless of political party, advance to the general election. That means two candidates from the same party could face off in a general election. And that, in theory, could lead to more moderate candidates, since a Republican voter would likely pick the more conservative of two Democrats, and vice versa. It also means that third-party candidates are likely not to be represented in the general election.

So, taking a look back for a moment, who put money on Prop 14, and who stands to benefit?