Today is the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed rivers of money to flow into our political campaigns.
That decision declared that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money to support their candidates and special interests. Subsequent cases further allowed the creation of SuperPACs and “social welfare groups,” which facilitate the collection of this money, often in secret.
These decisions did not limit the amount of money that can be given directly to candidates, but a new threat, McCutcheon vs. the FEC, may be decided by the Supreme Court any day now. That case has the potential to remove the last surviving limit on campaign spending by individuals, turning Lincoln’s declaration — government of the dollar, by the dollar, for the dollar — on its head.
The solution is a Constitutional amendment that declares that money is not speech, corporations are not persons and Congress has the right and duty to regulate campaign spending. With strong grassroots activism, we already are on our way. Sixteen states, including Colorado, and more than 500 cities and towns have passed resolutions supporting such an amendment.
Nearly 150 members of Congress, including our Sens. Bennet and Udall, are on record with their support. Several versions of the amendment have been proposed, and it will take input from us all to fine-tune the wording. I hope it will affirm that political contributions must all be publicly disclosed.
The annoyance of endless negative ads leading up to elections is bad enough. Even worse is the lack of oversight regarding the truth and accountability of these ads. Many people are taken in by the inflammatory language and base their votes on this unsubstantiated and undocumented information. Lastly, when the source of money is undisclosed, voters cannot assess the motives behind an ad.
What you can do: Move to Amend, Public Citizen and Common Cause are three excellent organizations leading our grassroots fight. Please check their websites to see how you can help. Write or call Sen. Bennet, Sen. Udall and Rep. Tipton to express your thoughts; you can find their contact information on their websites. Please join me in this critical effort to support a solid amendment that will return our government to democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.