What's wrong with the Russians using speech to influence our elections? Citizens United argued that limits on the speech of business corporations interfered with “the open marketplace of ideas protected by the First Amendment.” The Court said that “The fact that a corporation, or any other speaker, is willing to spend money to try to persuade voters presupposes that the people have the ultimate influence over elected officials.” (emphasis added). So, if we trust the marketplace of ideas, shouldn’t the Court protect the speech of the Russian government or Russian corporations. President Obama in his 2010 State of the Union Address worried that the Court would go that far: "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections." You will recall that Justice Alito muttered that it was not true. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/28/AR2010012802893.html
In fact, the Court left open the issue of foreign corporations. But the Court seems trapped by its own reasoning. The reason why we resist the Russians using speech through dummy corporations to influence the outcome of our elections is that the Russians are not trying to advance the public interest of the United States. The Russians seek to advance Russian interests, and the Russians are not part of the electorate in the United States.
But this exposes the bankruptcy of Citizens United. We rightly do not trust the marketplace to get it right with Russian messages. And that leads to a crucial question. What is the difference between the Russians and non-media business corporations? The Russians seek to promote Russian interests, not the public interest. So too, business corporations seek to promote their profits without regard to whether that promotion advances the public interest, and business corporations are not members of the electorate.
Of course, many citizens seek to advance their own interests, rather than the public interest, but foreign governments and business corporations are structured to promote their own interests. President Obama was right. The Court overturned a century of law that has opened the floodgates for special interests. The problem with special interests, like the Russians, is that they are influential and they act without regard to the common good.