Congress Will Soon Introduce Citizens United Response

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  • Dale Eisman

An important step, but legislation will not address big money fundraising

Washington, DC– News reports indicate that lawmakers will take up legislation to blunt the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. If similar to the original framework released in February, the legislative package will likely not go far enough to mitigate the effects the Citizens United decision will have on the role corporations will play in our elections, according to campaign finance watchdogs Public Campaign and Common Cause.

“The Supreme Court gave corporations a blank check to buy our elections,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign. “Any package passed by Congress to fix our broken campaign finance system must include legislation that addresses the root of the problem: the deep dependence of Congress on special interest money.”

“Wall Street and special interests lobbyists have used their infinite supply of money to stymie or weaken much needed reforms,” said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause. “The package that will be introduced this week is important, but to put voters ahead of campaign donors, Congress must pass the Fair Elections Now Act.”

In Citizens United, the Roberts Court eliminated decades of precedence by overturning the ban on corporate and union spending through their treasury funds. These entities now have nearly unlimited ability to influence our elections. Elected officials are now faced with the threat of political reprisal for a tough vote and politicians will have to spend even more time raising money from deep-pocketed donors, instead of their constituents.

While the legislation by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) will add much needed transparency to campaign spending, any legislative response to the Roberts Court decision must include the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752, H.R. 1826), legislation that would end the reliance on campaign cash from Wall Street lobbyists and entrenched special interests.

With Fair Elections, candidates can run for office on a blend of limited public funds and small donations of $100 or less. The House bill currently has the broad bipartisan support of more than 140 members-more support than any campaign finance reform measure currently before Congress.