As the 2016 presidential campaign heats up, presidential contenders and potential candidates from both sides of the aisle are talking more about the growing influence of big money in our political system, and their solutions to help solve the problem:
Yesterday at an event in Iowa, former Democratic U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and it appears campaign finance reform will be one of the pillars of her campaign. Clinton said yesterday:
“We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has previously supported campaign reform measures such as the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also known as McCain-Feingold. While barnstorming this past weekend, Graham also noted that he understands a constitutional amendment is needed to fix the amount of money in politics, saying:
“Well, Citizens United has gotta be fixed. Y'all agree with that? You're gonna need a constitutional amendment to fix this problem.”
As pressure builds on President Obama to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their dark money political spending, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has supported the idea of banning federal contractors from lobbying and making PAC contributions.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been publically considering a run for president recently. Sanders has been one of most vocal supporters of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and also strongly supports small-donor public financing systems and disclosure measures combat the problem of dark money in elections.
As a state legislator in the 1990s, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) supported stronger campaign finance reforms, including strengthening Wisconsin’s public financing system and PAC regulations. But as Common Cause Wisconsin’s Jay Heck explains: "Nevertheless, some of the positions [Walker] had back then, I don't think he'd adopt now because everything has shifted further to the right." Although it is clear that Governor Walker is running for president, he has refused to declare himself a candidate or even admit he is exploring a run for president in order to avoid contribution limits. This has resulted in at least two complaints to the Federal Elections Commission, one from the American Democracy Legal Fund and another from the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21.
During a recent event in New Hampshire, former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) – another non-candidate acting as candidate who has been the subject to an FEC complaint – said he supports overturning Citizens United, expanding public financing of campaigns, and bipartisan redistricting reform.
Regardless of who wins the 2016 election, our next president will have to fix our broken campaign finance system and stem the growing influence of special interest money. As voters and citizens, it'll be our job to hold them accountable.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Money in Politics