Political Brands
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Political Brands

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

From ‘I Like Ike’ to Trump’s MAGA hats, branding and politics have gone hand in hand, selling ideas, ideals and candidates. Political Brands explores the legal framework for the use of commercial branding and advertising techniques in presidential political campaigns, as well as the impact of politics on commercial brands. This thought provoking book examines how branding is used by citizens to change public policy, from Civil Rights activists in the 1960s to survivors of the 2018 Parkland massacre.
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Chapter 2: Branding corruption

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy


An example of the branding of a legal concept is what the Roberts Supreme Court has done to the meaning of the word “corruption” in both campaign finance and white collar crime cases. Before it got its hands on this word, “corruption” had a very broad meaning. But the Roberts Court has branded “corruption” to be a very thin reed of a word. The basic branding that the Supreme Court has repeated is that “political corruption only means quid pro quo exchanges.” This fences out broader ideas of what a corrupt political system comprises. From Randall v. Sorrell to McCutcheon v. FEC, and from Skilling to McDonnell, the Supreme Court has changed what counts as corruption. And as this chapter explores, politicians accused of criminally abusing their positions of power have been eager to use these cases to argue to lower courts that they should not be punished.

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