Get Money Out of Politics
It January 2010, the Supreme Court rendered its Citizens United decision, opening the floodgates for special interest money in our elections.
Citizens United holds that corporations have the same rights as people and can spend unlimited corporate money to influence elections. It reversed a century of campaign finance law that maintained basic limits on special-interest money in politics. By affirming that money equals speech, the Court gave corporations even greater status than citizens, most of whom don’t have access to millions of dollars to spend on campaigns.
In 2014, the Court tipped the balance further toward special interests with its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which eliminated aggregate limits for high-dollar campaign contributors. With its decision, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority continued to ignore the reality that money in politics is corrupting public policy, offering greater access to the well-off and well-connected and further diminishing the voices of the vast majority of Americans.
At a time when we should be encouraging more people to get involved in politics, Citizens United and McCutcheon have widened the gap between Americans and their government. I want to close that gap.
That is why I introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the key provision of Citizens United. The amendment establishes that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions do not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment. By establishing that money does not equal speech, this legislation allows Congress to regulate campaign finance without a constitutional challenge under Citizens United. It also enables Congress to establish a public financing system that would serve as a source of funding for federal elections.
And in the 113th Congress, I introduced the Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish a public financing system for Congressional campaigns. This legislation would enable small-dollar campaign contributors to compete with special interests in Congressional elections, mitigate the effects of outside spending, and encourage a more diverse pool of candidates to run for federal office.
The last thing Congress needs is more corporate and special-interest candidates who don’t answer to the American people. Until we get big money out of politics, we will never be able to responsibly address the major issues facing American families.