It’s Time To Say NO To Corporate PAC Money

Corporations have always played a special, and influential, role in American society. The same can be said for our politics. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United vs FEC that as long as there’s no coordination with a given candidate, corporations and individuals can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence voters. This ruling gave increased power to an already gargantuan actor in American politics, by allowing corporations to contribute to Super PACs. This significantly minimizes the importance of grassroots support and puts the focus on the most privileged Americans almost exclusively. This ruling only magnified an already pressing issue – the influence of corporations in policy-making.

The impact of what has come to be known as “dark money” has been significant, with billions spent by outside groups in the last election cycle. You might be asking yourself: How do we combat this? Where do we begin? The first step is committing to rejecting Corporate PAC money. More focus has been afforded to campaign finance laws and regulations as efforts to reduce the influence of money on our political system have expanded greatly (thanks to organizations like Common Cause shining a spotlight on the issue). In fact, several 2020 presidential candidates openly refused dark money and corporate spending and relied solely on grassroots support and small-dollar donations, indicating an upward trend in this strategy heading into the 2022 cycle. While the fight against dark money continues, something that can be done by candidates right now is to refuse donations from Corporate PACs, thus, proving their dedication to those in need of support (hint: it’s not the wealthy executives at the top). Even though these PACs must abide by FEC spending limits and disclosure requirements, let’s not kid ourselves – this spending plays an influential role in our politics and policy process. Learn more about the pledge to reject corporate PAC money here.

In Seattle, voters approved “democracy vouchers” – a new program that aims to enhance the role average Americans play in elections. Each election cycle, every registered voter in the city receives six $25 publicly-funded vouchers to donate to any candidate of their choice. In New York, publicly-funded elections have proven successful for decades as the city continues to match candidates’ small dollar donations at a ratio of 8:1. For example, if a NYC resident donates $10, the city would contribute an additional $80. The bottom line: there are alternatives to dark money corporate funding.

It’s up to We The People to demand that our elected officials focus on raising support from everyday Illinoisans rather than their friends at ExxonMobil or Johnson & Johnson. Common Cause Illinois LeadershipSix Interns are currently spearheading a campaign to lobby these members of Congress to return the power back to the people. Follow along with the campaign here and be sure to visit our social media channels on Friday, August 13 for a Day of Action (all the tools you need will be provided including opportunities for phonebanking)!

Corporations have been influencing our elections for far too long. When people ask for tuition-free higher education, or no-cost healthcare, or even necessary measures to protect our environment, lawmakers ask, “well how are we going to pay for it?” It’s often those same individuals that propose tax cuts for the rich, corporate tax reductions, and the repeal of unemployment benefits. Americans need big, structural policy changes to finally achieve racial justice, environmental justice, educational justice, labor justice, and justice for the working class. We won’t achieve justice when our leaders are busy making business deals in Washington. Join us to demand that our lawmakers reject Corporate PAC money, returning power to We The People.