Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced a disastrous rollback of campaign finance laws. Their 5-4 decision gives corporations free rein to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
As The New York Times put it, this "opens the floodgates" for corporate money.1
It's a horrible decision. But we can undo some of the damage if Congress passes public financing of elections, which would give progressives and populists who don't have industry backing the ability to compete.
There is already a public financing bill, the Fair Elections Now Act, with significant, bipartisan support.2 Congress, which right now desperately needs to show that it's on the side of the voters instead of corporate interests, should rush to pass it.
The petition says: "Congress must act now to make sure voters—not corporations—have control of our elections. Pass public financing to make our elections fair."
With this Court decision, Big Insurance could spend as much as they want to support Joe Lieberman in his efforts to keep watering down health care reform. And ExxonMobil or BP can spend millions to elect candidates who oppose clean energy. It's a disastrous decision with a disastrous outcome.
Fixing the problem of corporate money in politics is a long-term fight—and public financing is the best first step. With the Fair Elections Now legislation, candidates could get off the corporate fundraising treadmill and raise enough from small donors to be seriously competitive. If this bill passes, 95% of House members would get the same or more money than they spent in 2008—and they'd still be able to raise small contributions beyond that.3
The Fair Elections Now Act is being spearheaded by Democrat John Larson and Republican Walter Jones in the House. And it's already won the support of a wide range of good-government groups who want to see Congress doing the work of the people.
This is our best chance ever to advance the cause of public financing for fair elections. The idea's been proven in numerous states. And with this Supreme Court decision, members of Congress are getting nervous about having to compete against a wave of corporate cash. Change is now possible.
Can you sign our petition today urging Congress to pass public financing? Clicking here will add your name:
Thank you for all you do.
–Kat, Daniel, Stephen, Wes, and the rest of the team
1. "Justices Overturn Key Campaign Limits," The New York Times, January 21, 2010
"Lobbyists Get Potent Weapon in Campaign Finance Ruling," The New York Times, January 21, 2010
2. "Fair Elections Are the Answer to Citizens United," The Huffington Post, January 11, 2010
3. Common Cause analysis of Federal Election Commission filings from 2008
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