James Bopp: The Man Behind our Secret Elections

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  • Dale Eisman

New Report Examines Radical Activist and His Drive to Dismantle Election Laws

A little-known Indiana lawyer with a fiercely partisan agenda and a long record of radical conservative activism has engineered the flow of tens of millions of dollars in corporate and trade association money – most of it from secret donors — into this year’s mid-term elections, drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans.

The courtroom victories of James Bopp Jr., of Terre Haute, Indiana, have enabled his clients to invest millions in bought speech — a flood of political commercials that promote GOP candidates and drown out the voices of their opponents and ordinary Americans. Among other lawsuits, Bopp originally launched the case Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission that resulted in the US Supreme Court earlier this year lifting the longtime ban on corporate and union spending on elections and flooding the mid-term elections with secret money.

“James Bopp is the point man for conservative wealthy interests whose goal is to dismantle the laws and regulations we have in place to stop the buying of Congress and other elected officials,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “America has Bopp and company to thank for the flood of secret corporate dollars flowing into the mid-term elections drowning out the voices of ordinary voters. Wall Street, Big Oil and the insurance industry will all seek a return on their investments as soon as the campaigns are over, and the public will pay the price.”

Bopp’s clear objective is to help elect extremist Republicans by tearing down the nation’s campaign finance laws and opening the door to unlimited, anonymous corporate fundraising, the report says.

Commissioned by public interest groups Common Cause and Public Campaign and conducted by Klein Research Services, the report details Bopp’s long involvement in conservative politics and anti-abortion rights organizations. He is aligned with some of the GOP’s most radical elements; in 2008, he authored a resolution that accused then-President George W. Bush and Republican congressional leaders of embracing “socialism.” Bopp also has suggested that Republicans refer to Democrats as the “Democratic Socialist Party.”

His activism and legal work on behalf of GOP sponsors has helped make Bopp wealthy. Since 2003, Bopp has collected nearly $1.5 million in legal fees from the Republican National Committee, it says; his firm has been paid an additional $1 million by a foundation Bopp helped create and has described as backed by anonymous “major donors” from the “conservative community.”