Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law
Chapter Member: Florida SSN

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.

In the News

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on dark money being favored for corporate giving and it being completely frustrating from an accountability point of view, "6 Months After Capitol Assault, Corporate Pledges Fall Flat" ABC News, July 4, 2021.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted by Daniel Tay, "Calif. Donor Info Ruling May Spur Campaign Finance Challenges" Law 360 Tax Authority, July 2, 2021.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on on how the SEC doesn’t need the “comply or explain” tool to avoid running afoul of the First Amendment, and It rather being an extreme position to say that issuers have a First Amendment right to deceive investors on the matter of climate, by Andrew Ramonas, "SEC ‘Mission Creep’ on Climate Ups Republican Lawsuit Threats" Bloomberg Law , June 29, 2021.
Guest to discuss why are Republicans upset about corporate free speech all of a sudden? on Amicus/Slate Podcast, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, April 10, 2021.
"Georgia’s Unique And Bloody History With Voter Disenfranchisement," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, TPM Cafe, April 6, 2021.
"The Power Corporations Have In Changing Laws," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Interview with Audie Cornish, NPR, April 2, 2021.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on corporate political spenders and groups disguising or not disclosing their donors by Ephrat Livni, Lauren Hirsch and Andrew Ross Sorkin, "Money in Politics, One Month Later" The New York Times, February 6, 2021.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on Michael Bloomberg's campaign spending, "Michael Bloomberg Splashes the Cash for 2020" HuffPost, December 9, 2019.
"2020 Democrats Are Getting Edgier to Try to Attract Young Voters. Will It Work?," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Teen Vogue, October 30, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on adoption of marketing tactics by political candidates by Candace Manriquez Wrenn and Rose Conlon, "Candidates are Hoping You’ll Buy Their Rhetoric — As Well as Their Merchandise " Marketplace, October 7, 2019.
"The FEC is Paralyzed. It Couldn’t Come at a Worse Time," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Talking Points Memo, September 24, 2019.
"Trump’s Judicial Picks are Gutting Campaign Finance Law," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Law360, September 12, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on a non-profit university engaging in questionable political activity by Brandon Ambrosino, "‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence" Politico, September 9, 2019.
"Everyone is Talking about 1619. But That’s Not Actually when Slavery in America Started.," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Washington Post, August 23, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy quoted on PAC money in campaigns by Joe Andrews, "Majority of Americans Say They Won't Donate to 2020 Presidential Campaigns" CNBC, July 1, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy's research on legal repercussions of the Mueller report discussed by Sean Illing, "Does the Mueller Report Exonerate Trump? I asked 12 Legal Experts.," Vox, April 18, 2019.
"As the Mueller Investigation Closes, New York Investigations Shift into High Gear," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Just Security, March 29, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy's research on legality of national emergency discussed by Sean Illing, "Trump Declared a National Emergency at the Border. I Asked 11 Experts if it’s Legal.," Vox, February 15, 2019.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy's research on Cohen plea deal discussed by Sean Illing, "What Does Michael Cohen’s Plea Deal Mean for Trump? I Asked Nine Legal Experts.," Vox, November 29, 2018.
"Florida Has A Chance to Make Civil Rights History in This Election," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Huffington Post, November 3, 2018.
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 by Ken Dilanian, "Trump Campaign Paid Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller's Lawyers, Records Show" NBC News, April 17, 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.
"Welcome to Florida, Voters (Votantes, Bienvenidos a Florida)," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Shondaland, January 24, 2018.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy's research on Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo, "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.
"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 precedent for post-poning elections on WFSU, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, September 9, 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 campaign finance reform on Bill Moyers, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, August 11, 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 by 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 by Jay Root, "Abbott Opposes Curbs on Dark Money" Texas Tribune, June 1, 2015.
"The Smart Alice Vote," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Huffington Post, April 19, 2015.
Guest to discuss political cash controls on NPR's All Things Considered, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, April 25, 2014.
"Shareholders in the Dark about 'Dark Money'," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2013.
"Interest Groups Will Spend to Influence Politicians," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, New York Times, October 6, 2013.
"Blood on Your Handset," Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Slate, September 20, 2013.


"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.

"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.

"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 $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.
"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.