Money in Politics
Money in Politics
Special interest money pollutes everything that politicians do in Washington. More than a century ago, when Republican Teddy Roosevelt was President, Congress recognized the obvious corruption wrought by corporate money in politics, and passed the Tillman Act, completely prohibiting corporations from giving money to political candidates or parties. But in 2010, a tone-deaf Supreme Court ruled exactly opposite, in the notorious Citizens United case, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts influencing elections. One giant step backward.
In a perfect world, Americans would rise in unison to demand a constitutional amendment to override Citizens United: when it comes to elections, corporations are not people, and money is not speech, and Congress should be able to impose reasonable limits on the timing and amount of campaign fundraising and spending. But the reality is that amending the Constitution is extraordinarily difficult – requiring supermajorities in both Houses of Congress and among the state legislatures. A very heavy lift. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, at the very least to educate and mobilize people.
In the meantime, we can:
- Pass a law mandating that corporations disclose all their political spending. The Supreme Court in Citizens United blithely assumed transparency, but Congress refused to enact it. Transparency will empower the people to reward or punish corporations for their political spending. Ultimately, corporations will have to scale back, realizing that ANY political spending will alienate half their customer base.
- Public financing, with a higher match rate for low-dollar contributions – for example, contributions under $100 will be matched 6-to-1. Or the voucher system implemented in many cities across the country, where voters get, say, $200 in government vouchers and can allocate them as they wish among different political campaigns. Shift the power from corporations to the people.
- Mandate the Securities Exchange Commission to require all corporations to disclose their political spending, the same way they are already required to disclose the compensation they pay their CEO’s.
Unlike practically every Republican candidate in the country, I refuse to take money from corporate PACs or lobbyists. I will personally match every dollar contributed to my campaign by a person within this district. I will be nobody’s Congressman but your own. You will never have to scratch your head wondering if that vote I cast was for my corporate benefactors, or for the people of this great district.