When dark money infects a political system, the consequences for democracy are devastating — civil society is eroded and powerful corporations go unchecked while citizens who actually make up the democracy are left behind.
Consider, for example, that over the past decade, Big Pharma invested $2.5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions, deploying two lobbyists for every member of Congress. Sadly, but not surprisingly, it worked — their corporate invasion successfully neutered any legislation addressing America’s skyrocketing drug prices or surging opioid epidemic. Other efforts are even more blatant, such as the Koch Brothers contributing nearly $500,000 to Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising committee immediately following the passage of the Republican tax cuts — perhaps just a coincidence, but more likely a hearty thank you for further enriching the billionaire donor class.
The days of legalized corruption and quid-pro-quo campaign financing must end. In Congress, I will co-sign any legislation that removes the nefarious grip dark money has on our electoral and legislative process. Here’s where we can start:
- Reverse Citizens United. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was a disaster for democracy. Money is not “free speech” and corporations are not people; we need to overturn this through a constitutional amendment.
- Eliminate Super PACs. To truly free our democracy from the grip of dark money, we need a path toward public funding for elections. That begins with legislation that eliminates Super PACs and requires full transparency and disclosure when corporations and the wealthy funnel their money into elections.
- Chart the path toward public financing of campaigns. A good place to start is by passing the Fair Elections Now Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and 23 of his Senate colleagues, and will amend the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971.
- Restore the full Voting Rights Act. As much as we’d like to repair our campaign finance system, even those efforts will be for naught if there is still discrimination in our voting process. Since the Supreme Court struck down the meat of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, more than a dozen states have passed laws that make voting less accessible. The reemergence of strict voter ID laws — which have historically discriminated against minority voters — is just one example of why the Voting Rights Act is still needed.
(Campaign Finance Reform page on WildForCongress.com)