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U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
The Honorable Candice Miller, Chairwoman
Committee on House Administration
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairwoman Miller:
As the chair of the Committee on House Administration, we want to congratulate you on your new role and look forward to working with you and your staff.
In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, an estimated $6 billion was spent, with more than $1 billion coming from non-party outside groups. By some accounts, approximately 31 percent of outside spending was funded by "secret" undisclosed donors.
We are writing to request that you hold hearings early in the 113th Congress on the Citizens United decision to examine potential legislative solutions to a system out of control, including consideration of disclosure reforms. According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll, nearly two-thirds of 2012 voters (including 71 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Republicans) said that big donors and secret money undermined democracy in this election.
There are a number of questions that your Committee should examine in light of the 2012 elections. These include: Was any of that undisclosed money spent by special interests trying to get favorable treatment for pending legislation before Congress? Did "hell"organizations form just to spend money in elections and then disband immediately afterward to try to hide information from voters? Did foreign corporations that are hostile to U.S. interests spend money trying to influence public policy?
The hearings should also address the proliferation of political spending by ultra- wealthy individuals and special interest-backed super PACs. Nearly 60 percent of super PAC funding came from just 159 donors contributing at least $1 million, according to a Demos-US PIRG report. In House races, just 0.14 percent of Americans made itemized contributions to congressional candidates. Various proposals (the Grassroots Democracy Act, Fair Elections Now Act, and Empowering Citizens Act) that would enhance the role of small donors should be analyzed to ensure that we have "overnment of the many, not of the money."
For our democracy to flourish, we must find new, meaningful ways for average citizens to have a stronger voice in the process, and citizens have a right -and a need -to know who is spending money to influence the outcome of our elections.
Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact Aaron Scherb (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-736-5726) with any questions, and we look forward to your response.
President and CEO
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Campaign Legal Center
Director, Congress Watch
Karen Hobert Flynn
Senior Vice President for Strategy and Programs
President and CEO
Americans for Campaign Reform
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
cc: Ranking Member Congressman Robert Brady