Murray Hill, Inc. For Congress


Via Miller-McCune's Emily Badger: in an test of the Supreme Court's recent campaign finance decision--and its logic that corporations should be treated as people, when it comes to political money--a Maryland-based progressive PR firm is planning to run for Congress.

Murray Hill, Inc. announced its candidacy in a press release on its website; it plans to enter the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen in the state's eighth congressional district, as a corporation.

"Until now," the firm says in its release, "corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves."

The firm has previously handled print ad accounts for the American Federation of Teachers and the National Resources Defense Council, according to its website.

Critics of the campaign finance decision have mocked its precedent that corporations' speech can't be restricted any more than individuals can. "Corporations are people, too," has become a common liberal summation of the Court's logic.

"It is irrelevant for First Amendment purposes that corporate funds may 'have little or no correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas.' ... All speakers, including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

As for Murray Hill's chances of successfully running for office...

The Constitution doesn't specify that members of the House of Representatives have to be people.

It does say that they have to be 25 years of age; Murray Hill was founded in 2005.

"My first question would the person running for office 25 years old at the time of the election," said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance at the Maryland Board of Elections. "So they might not even make it just based upon the 25 years."

The only other constitutional requirements are that House candidates 1) have been citizens of the U.S. for seven years prior to the election, 2) are inhabitants of the state where they're running, and 3) if they have previously taken an oath to defend the Constitution, have not engaged in rebellion against the U.S. or given aid or comfort to its enemies.

But there may be a loophole: the Constitution phrases all congressional office-holder requirements with the phrase "No person shall be a [Senator or] Representative who..."--meaning the requirements, linguistically, wouldn't apply to a corporation.

As far as Murray Hill's chances go, they won't need approval from the Maryland GOP to enter the primary; nor will they need signatures to get on the ballot; in Maryland, all one needs to run in a congressional primary is a $100 filing fee. The deadline is July 6 at 9 p.m.

Murray Hill would, however, have to prove that it is registered to vote as a Republican, DeMarinis said--an unlikely feat.

Nonetheless, check out Murray Hill's first campaign ad web video below:

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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