First Corporate Campaign Ads Appear After Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision

First Corporate Campaign Ads Appear After Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision

A Texas company recently took out a political ad in several local newspapers, making it one of the first corporations to do so in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court ruling that lifted restrictions on corporate political spending.

The Texas Tribune reports that the company, KDR Development, paid for an ad against state Rep. Chuck Hopson, formerly a Democratic member of the state legislature who switched parties and ran in the Republican primary for re-election.

The ad headline reads: "Vote for a REAL Republican," and it challenges Hopson's Republican credentials. The sponsorship line at the bottom of the ad reads: "Political advertisement paid for by KDR Development, Inc." The ads ran in the Jacksonville Daily Progress, the Tyler Morning Telegram and the Panola Watchman, small newspaper in East Texas.

According to the Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey:

The newspaper ads ran in Jacksonville and Tyler on the Sunday before the election and a week earlier in Panola, and they urged voters to choose anyone but Hopson. They were paid for by KDR Development Inc., a real estate company whose president, Republican Larry Durrett, lost to Hopson in 2006, when Hopson was still a Democrat. Durrett is also the president of Southern Multifoods, a Jacksonville-based company with dozens of franchised Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W and Long John Silvers restaurants. The two companies are closely related, sharing addresses, officers and directors.

"I think we're on solid legal ground," Durrett said in an interview. "We checked it out every way from Sunday."

Durrett's effort to help defeat Hopson in the three-way GOP primary, however, was not successful -- Hopson won.

According to the interview in the Tribune, Durrett consulted lawyers before running the ads to be sure they were legal.

"My businesses do better under conservative people and not under people who aren't," he said, referring to his reason for buying the newspaper spot, according to the Tribune.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling gave corporations and labor unions the right to buy political advertisements. This type of corporate involvement had been prohibited since a 1990 Supreme Court ruling.

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics," President Obama in a statement after the ruling. "It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

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