74% of Illinoisans voted to empower voters, by limiting SuperPAC, corporate, and union control of elections
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Today, the U.S. Senate introduced a bill that would amend the Constitution to empower voters by curbing the influence of SuperPACs, corporations, and unions in elections, less than 3 weeks after Illinois legislators and voters of both parties called for the bill.
The Constitutional amendment, which would overturn the Supreme Court's unpopular ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. was introduced in the Senate first by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and is expected to receive support from Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-NC).
"I have reached the conclusion that a constitutional amendment is necessary," said Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL). "It is an uphill battle. It may take years."
The measure was on ballots across Illinois in November, and was supported by 74% of voters. 14 other states have also called for the amendment.
News of the introduction was welcomed by activists and state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"Today's progress at the national level marks a turning point to restore government of, by, and for the people," said Rey Lopez-Calderon, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois, which led the coalition to pass the bipartisan resolution in the Illinois General Assembly. "Republicans and Democrats agree: our elected officials should be accountable to the voters, not to big money and special interests."
"Most Illinoisans intuitively understand that when it comes to free speech, corporations and individuals aren't created equal," said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), sponsor of the state resolution calling for the national amendment. "Until we pass this amendment, our hands are tied by a Supreme Court decision that severely limits our ability as lawmakers to take on a culture of corruption that saps our state's democratic energies."
"In my district there has been overwhelming support for reversing the Citizens United ruling," said Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin), chief co-sponsor of the state measure calling for the amendment, and former Kane County Board Chairman. "Last November 74% of Kane County residents voted in favor of a public advisory to reverse the ruling. I'm proud to represent my constituents and their views in Springfield."
"I am glad to see the U.S. Congress taking action to reduce the influence of big money in politics," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), who sponsored the measure in the Illinois House of Representatives. "We need to make sure elected officials are accountable to their constituents, not just the biggest donors."
"I do not believe the current system is working in the best interest of the voters," said Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), another chief-co-sponsor. "Our electoral process is lacking in transparency and accountability at every level of government. The federal courts shouldn't constrain state action on campaign financing at precisely the moment when we need so desperately to put our own house in order."
"Campaign finance reform is one of many courses of action needed to give everyday taxpayers more of a voice in their government," said Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Fox Lake), a chief co-sponsor. "Overturning the Citizens United decision will go a long way to reforming our out of date system."
Key quotes from Illinois lawmakers on a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court'sCitizens United ruling:
Office: Common Cause National