Congress’ response to Citizens United must go further
Package a good start, but legislation doesn’t address big money fundraising
Washington, DC—Legislation introduced today by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to blunt the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission is important, but must go further to address the problem of big money in our political process, according to campaign finance watchdogs Public Campaign and Common Cause.
“Sen. Schumer and Rep. Van Hollen should be commended for their concern over undue corporate influence in our elections, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s blockbuster decision needs a response that carries equal force, one that ends Congressional dependence on deep-pocked lobbying interests,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign. “Congress must act boldly to restore the country’s faith in our political system.”
“Now is the time for Congress to free itself from Wall Streets’ grip so Main Street can get a fair shake,” said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause. “The legislation introduced today is important, but to give Americans a voice in their democracy we need an alternative for candidates who don’t want to spend all their time courting special interests. The Fair Elections Now Act would do that, and must be part of Congress’ legislative response to the Citizens United decision.”
In Citizens United, the Roberts Court eliminated decades of common sense restrictions on corporate and union spending giving these wealthy special interests nearly unlimited ability to influence our elections. Now faced with the threat of political reprisal for a tough vote, candidates will have to spend even more time raising money from major donors, instead of their constituents.
Any legislative response to the Roberts Court decision and growing concern over ethical issues in Congress must include the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752, H.R. 1826), legislation that would end the reliance on campaign cash from Wall Street lobbyists and entrenched special interests. With Fair Elections, candidates can run for office on a blend of limited public funds and small donations of $100 or less. The House bill currently has the broad bipartisan support of nearly 150 members—more support than any campaign finance reform measure currently before Congress.