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Yarmuth Reintroduces Bill to Curb Influence of Money in Politics

WASHINGTON – Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) has reintroduced legislation to override a key element of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for unlimited special-interest spending on campaigns.

The legislation, H.J. Res. 107, would amend the Constitution so that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions do not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment. Doing so would ensure the constitutionality of commonsense restrictions on campaign finance and additional disclosure requirements by Congress.

The bill, which Yarmuth first introduced during the 112th Congress, also would enable Congress to establish a public financing system for campaigns that would be the sole source of all campaign funding. This would diminish the undue influence of the well-off and well-connected on elections and expand opportunities for others to run for office.

“It’s not hard to figure why Congress is so unpopular right now: As outside money has flooded the political system, the public’s perception of government has eroded,” Congressman Yarmuth said. “Special-interest money hasn’t just contributed to the corrosive partisanship that has gridlocked Congress – it’s been a primary cause. That is why I will continue working to get big money out of politics and restore the public’s faith in our democracy.”

Four 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. Combined with the continued absence of stronger disclosure requirements for those contributors, the decision has led to unprecedented outside spending on campaigns – with less accountability.

In 2012, the Federal Election Commission reported that Super PACs and other outside groups spent almost $500 million to influence Congressional elections. That total is a conservative estimate that does not include political spending that goes unreported due to disclosure loopholes.

Last year, Yarmuth also introduced the Fair Elections Now Act, which is designed to leverage small-donor contributions by providing a 5-to-1 federal match of contributions below $100 from residents of a candidate’s state in both the primary and general elections. The voluntary program would also provide grants to ensure that primary winners are competitive in general elections.