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Yarmuth Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Curb Influence of Money in Politics

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced a Constitutional amendment to override a key element of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, which opened the floodgates for unlimited individual and special interest spending on campaigns.

The measure, H. J. Res. 53, would amend the Constitution so that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions would no longer qualify as forms of protected speech under the First Amendment. First introduced by Yarmuth in 2011, the measure would also enable Congress to establish a public financing system for campaigns that would be the sole source of all campaign funding, diminishing the influence of wealthy donors on elections and expanding opportunities for citizens to run for office.

“Corporate money equals influence, not free speech,” said Yarmuth. “By allowing big money to flood our elections, the Supreme Court has further eroded our democracy and left us with endless year-round campaigns, often comprised of misinformation and half-truths. Until we get big money out of politics, we’ll never truly be able to responsibly address the major issues that hardworking American families face. This Constitutional amendment will help to restore our democracy and put elections back in the hands of the people—where they belong.”

Five years ago, in its decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate and special-interest spending in federal elections. In 2014, the Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC overturned aggregate limits, allowing a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to political parties and candidates’ campaigns. Combined with the continued absence of stronger disclosure requirements, the decisions have led to unprecedented outside spending on campaigns – all with less accountability.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that Super PACs and other outside groups spent nearly $1 billion to influence the 2012 and 2014 elections. That total is a conservative estimate that does not include political spending that goes unreported due to disclosure loopholes.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.

HJRes53 (05/14/1506:21 PMET )