New Report Spotlights Growing Support for Money in Politics Reforms

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
"Our Voices, Our Democracy" Details Moves to Toughen Disclosure, Pass Citizen-Funded Campaign Finance Systems

A citizens’ movement to break the power of big money in politics with tougher disclosure laws, financing systems that elevate small dollar donors, and other reforms is winning important victories in states and localities across the country, Common Cause and several allied groups advocates argue in a report released today.

“Our Voices, Our Democracy,” highlights calls by voters, state legislatures and local governing bodies in 16 states and more than 680 localities for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC; the ruling has helped corporations and wealthy donors pump hundreds of millions of dollars into U.S. elections.

The report also notes that at least 23 states have enacted new disclosure rules since 2010 and that states including Connecticut and Maine and localities including Seattle, Tallahassee and Montgomery County, MD have acted to pass, defend and strengthen citizen-funded campaign finance systems that amplify the voices of small-dollar donors.

“This report demolishes the conventional wisdom that nothing can be done to break the hold on our democracy that Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions have given to corporations and wealthy special interests,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s senior vice president for strategy and programs.

“People are working in their communities, and now connecting state-by-state, in building a national movement to preserve democracy and make sure our government listens to and reflects the people it serves. And they’re winning important victories.”

According to the report:

·       From California to South Dakota, there are more ballot initiatives in 2016 than in any previous election cycle to rebalance the system so it works for voters.

·       Spurred by petitions signed by more than 1 million Americans, President Obama reportedly is “seriously considering” executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending.

·       Thousands of Americans organized by hundreds of organizations representing a diverse array of constituencies will pour into Washington D.C. between April 11-18 for mass civil disobedience, demonstrations, concerts, teach-ins, a rally, lobbying and more.

·        More than 200,000 Americans have called on the presidential candidates to get serious about fighting big money in elections. For the first time ever, every Democratic candidate for president has publicly embraced a comprehensive plan to fight big money and many Republicans are embracing solutions of their own.

“Our Voices, Our Democracy” is a collaborative effort of Common Cause and six other national organizations representing millions of Americans: Center for Media and Democracy, Demos, Every Voice, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.

“This surge of citizen activism may be the most under-reported story of the campaign,” Hobert Flynn said. “The polls may disagree about which candidates are leading the presidential race, but there’s no disputing that overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Republicans alike are hungry for reforms that stem the power of big money and empower everyday Americans.”