Money in Politics

In a democratic society, the people are sovereign. Government is accountable to everyday citizens, not wealthy special interests. Unfortunately, these days Big Money has too much influence on governmental decision making, and the will of the people often gets ignored. Common Cause wants to restore the proper balance and put equal citizens back in charge.

The good news is that Delaware currently has the second lowest campaign contribution limits in the country, and we want to keep it that way – but vigilance is needed. Last year, Common Cause Delaware successfully prevented two attempts by politicians to increase the amount of money in Delaware politics. HS 1 for HB 128 would have increased contribution limits for campaigns by 66% and increased contribution limits for parties by 33%. SB 155 would have allowed parties to create a “building fund” to  receive unlimited contributions, creating a virtual slush fund for partisanship. As soon as we alerted the public about these efforts, the bills were stalled.  In 2016, CCDE will continue to serve as the public’s watchdog, making sure wealthy special interests do not increase their influence on our democratic process.

Yet while Delaware’s contribution limits are low, we have other challenges. Indeed, we are still working to reform Delaware’s notorious “pay to play political culture” by passing the remainder of the recommendations made in the Veasey Report (2013). The General Assembly still needs to ban all gifts from lobbyists to legislators, prohibit contributions from entities such as limited liability corporations, require political committees to report the occupation and employer of every donor (as is already required at the federal level), and implement meaningful filing and oversight fees of lobbyists that would be used to fund the Public Integrity Commission. Delawareans paid $1 million dollars for the Veasey Report. The least we can do is follow its recommendations.

Finally, CCDE strongly supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturning Citizens United (2010) – and all three of our Congressional representatives do as well. However, we do not support calls for an Article V convention because of the havoc that untested and uncontrollable process might wreak on our democracy. Given the powerful grip wealthy special interests and other extremists currently have on state government all over the country, we cannot risk a runaway convention. Thus, we stand opposed to SCR6.

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