Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Associate Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law
Areas of Expertise:
  • Law & Courts
  • Election 2016
  • Government Agencies
  • Public Sector Reforms

About Ciara

Torres-Spelliscy’s work focuses primarily on the issue of money in politics, but also works on strengthening election laws more generally, as well as improving corporate governance. She is a Brennan Center Fellow, on the board of directors for both the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Torres-Spelliscy is the head of research for the Corporate Reform Coalition, which works on revising corporate and securities laws post-Citizens United v. FEC. She has helped to draft several Supreme Court amicus briefs and provides testimony for law makers who are crafting new laws and new rules.


"Boycotting the President's Brand: Commercial Reactions to Trump 2015-2017" The Corporate Reform Coalition (2018).

Discusses how Trump's political career has impacted his commercial brand, and vice-versa.

Corporate Citizen? An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State (Carolina Academic Press, 2016).

Explores how, over the course of American history, corporations have aggressively sought to expand their constitutional rights, and examines the responses from investors, customers, and lawmakers to expanded corporate power.

"Shareholder-Authorized Corporate Political Spending in the United Kingdom" (with Kathy Fogel). University of San Francisco Law Review 46 (2012).
Explains how the U.K. Companies Act requires shareholder votes before corporate political spending occurs and suggests that the United States should also adopt shareholder approval for corporate political expenditures post-Citizens United.
"The $500 Million Question: Are the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations Really State PACs Under Buckley’s Major Purpose Test?" New York University Journal Legislation & Public Policy 15 (2012).
Explores the funding and spending of the Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association. The piece examines whether either group should be regulated as a PAC in the states where they spend money to elect governors.
"Safeguarding Markets from Pernicious Pay to Play: A Model Explaining Why the SEC Regulates Money in Politics" Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal 12, no. 2 (2013).
Discusses how the SEC already regulates money in politics through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, MSRB Rule G-37 and Rule 206(4)-5 to explain why the SEC should also require greater transparency of corporate political spending.
"The Democracy We Left Behind in Greece and McCutcheon" New York University Law Review 89 (2014).
Argues that the Supreme Court is neglecting its traditional role policing the boundary between Church and State, as well as policing the boundary between politics and the economy.

In the News

Guest to discuss campaign finance law on KPPC's Air Talk with Larry Mantle, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, May 3, 2018.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on the Trump Russia Investigation in Ken Dilanian, "Trump Campaign Paid Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller's Lawyers, Records Show" NBC News, April 17, 2018.
"Welcome to Florida, Voters (Votantes, Bienvenidos a Florida)," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Shondaland, January 24, 2018.
"A Brief Explainer on Trump's Forgotten Lawsuits," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Shondaland, April 6, 2018.
"Why Federalism Keeps Me up At Night," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center Blog, March 28, 2018.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy's research on Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason PiekloCiara Torres-Spelliscy, "Gavel Drop: Are Federal Courts Having Their Own #MeToo Moment?," Rewire, January 8, 2018.
"Vet Them Now or Vet Them Later," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice, December 26, 2017.
"Congress Could Hardwire Dark Money into Our Democracy," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, The Hill, December 5, 2017.
"Yes. Violating Certain Campaign Finance Laws is a Criminal Offense.," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Bill Moyers, July 13, 2017.
"Dark Money Turns Elections into Trench Warfare," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Bill Moyers, June 21, 2017.
"Did the 2016 Election Cause John Roberts To Change His Views on Race?," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice, May 23, 2017.
"The Worst $1 Million Trump Ever Saved," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Common Sense, March 9, 2017.
Guest to discuss precedent for post-poning elections on WFSU, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, September 9, 2016.
"Breaking the Fourth Wall of Democracy," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Bill Moyers, October 20, 2016.
"The Fight against Expanding Corporate Power," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Interview with Justin Miller, The American Prospect, October 13, 2016.
Guest to discuss campaign finance reform on Bill Moyers, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, August 11, 2016.
"Florida is Running Out of Time to Give All Voters Equal Early Voting," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Tampa Bay Times, August 15, 2016.
Guest to discuss how the have courts changed the role of corporations in society and in elections on WMNF, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, July 25, 2016.
"Cutting Corners in a Federal Campaign is Criminal," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, The Hill, June 30, 2016.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on a public-financing system that works with Citizens United in Marilyn W. Thompson, "The Price of Public Money" The Atlantic, May 27, 2016.
"2016 Will Test the Power of Super PACs," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Bill Moyers, January 7, 2016.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on legislators requiring disclosure of money used to influence elections in Jay Root, "Abbott Opposes Curbs on Dark Money" Texas Tribune, June 1, 2015.
"Blood on Your Handset," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Slate, September 20, 2013.
"Interest Groups Will Spend to Influence Politicians," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, New York Times, October 6, 2013.
"Shareholders in the Dark about 'Dark Money'," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2013.
Guest to discuss political cash controls on NPR's All Things Considered, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, April 25, 2014.
"The Smart Alice Vote," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Huffington Post, April 19, 2015.