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Kentucky Super PACs Free to Grow After Supreme Court Ruling

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The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overrule a Montana campaign finance law is likely to boost the rise of super PACs in Kentucky.
The Montana law limited the amount of money independent groups could spend on campaigns. But the high court says the 2010 Citizens United decision overrules state laws. The ruling doesn’t affect any laws in Kentucky. But state election officials have changed regulations to accommodate Citizens United.

“All this opinion does is affirm that Citizens United is the law, the court meant what it said. And that the individual facts or justifications from the states don’t change the fact that the First Amendment protects independent political speech,” says attorney Eric Lycan.

Two Super PACs, one for each major party's candidate, were involved in last year's gubernatorial race in Kentucky. And Super PACs also played a role in this year's 4th Congressional District Republican primary. It's expected today's ruling will lead to more such involvement in Kentucky.  U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell praised the ruling as a victory for those who consider political spending free speech. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway sided with Montana in the case, hoping to beat back Citizens United. In a statement, Conway says the ruling discourages states from fighting corruption in politics.

I am disappointed in today's ruling by the Supreme Court that effectively denies states the right to limit unfettered corporate involvement in the state political process.  States have a significant interest in preventing corruption in the political process and to accomplish this, states must be able to enforce their own laws setting limits on campaign expenditures.  The court's decision to overturn the Montana Supreme Court without even holding arguments is a setback to all of us who seek greater transparency and accountability in our government.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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