As a steadfast advocate for American consumers, it comes as no surprise that Senator Elizabeth Warren of the commonwealth of Massachusetts has been endorsed by End Citizens United. The grassroots political action committee, or PAC, is working to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for corporations and other special interests to pour unlimited funds into Super PACS. As a result of this ruling, special interests can now spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, effectively crippling democracy as we know it.
The Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling on Citizens United in January 2010. The high court’s 5-to-4 decision effectively eliminated union and corporate bans on making “independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications.” Put simply, the decision gave these special interests permission to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertisements and other political tools. Citizens United did not eliminate the existing ban on companies donating directly to political campaigns. That ban is now weakened and basically worthless, however, as these corporations can now simply funnel their donations through shady Super PACs instead.
End Citizens United, a grassroots-funded political action committee, officially announced its support of Senator Warren via press release on July 27, 2017. In the release, the organization describes democracy in America as being in “real danger” and that Senator Warren, as an outspoken advocate for complete disclosure, deserves its endorsement because she has affected real change and has the power to continue to do so.
Nobody who stays abreast of current political events was surprised when End Citizens United gave its official endorsement. The organization has many reasons to back up Senator Warren, as she has spent her political career fighting for consumers and protecting them from corporations and special interests. Senator Warren continues to push for the overturning of the Supreme Court decision, so her goals are in alignment with those of End Citizens United.
Some examples of the work that Senator Warren has done that justifies her endorsement by End Citizens United include:
- Overturning Citizens United – From the moment that the decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in January 2010, Senator Warren has been vocal about the need to overturn it. Unfortunately, however, merely overturning the ruling is unlikely to be enough, as there is a strong likelihood of another case going before the court and putting Citizens United back into effect.
- Supporting the Democracy for All Amendment – To ensure that a disaster like the Citizens United decision never happens again, Senator Warren stands behind a push to create a constitutional amendment overturning the case and ensuring that it never adversely affects the American political system again. Warren was an original co-sponsor of the Democracy for All Amendment that was proposed by Senator Tom Udall, Representatives James P. McGovern, Ted Deutch and Jamie Raskin along with more than 130 members of Congress.
- Consumer Protection – Senator Warren was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that was established to more closely guard consumers. Without question, the Citizens United decision poses a serious threat to consumers, as it gives corporations, unions and other special interests free rein to influence politics through political spending. Throughout her career, Senator Warren has been a strong, reliable consumer advocate, and she continues that fight with her opposition to Citizens United.
- The People’s Pledge – For the 2018 election, Senator Warren has again called for the return of the People’s Pledge. This initiative, which she spearheaded, is designed to ensure that the people of Massachusetts hear directly from candidates on the issues. During the 2012 election, this pledge kept outside money out of the Massachusetts race. Candidates who benefit from outside advertisements are required to donate half of the value of those commercials to charity.
Through its endorsement, End Citizens United will support Senator Warren while she supports the non-profit. Already, End Citizens United has connected the senator with more than 100,000 of its members in her state. The group will soon activate another 360,000 or so small grassroots donors to provide the senator with the resources that she needs to retain her seat. Through contributions that average just $14, these efforts are projected to raise around $35 million for the 2018 election cycle.
Given the Great Recession of just a handful of years ago, it is incredible to think that corporations and special interests have attained even more clout in the American political system. Campaign finance has been a major issue in the U.S. for decades. In 1907, the Tillman Act, which banned corporations from funding federal election campaigns, was put into effect. In 1947, the Taft-Harding Campaign Act, which extended this rule to unions, was signed into law. Unfortunately, neither of these laws did very much.
That changed in 1971 with the enactment of the Federal Election Campaign Act. This law required the full reporting of all campaign expenditures and contributions in federal elections. Although it also limited spending on media advertisements, this part of the bill was deemed unconstitutional. Unfortunately, this made Citizens United possible.
Using the Citizens United ruling as precedent, the high court’s SpeechNow.org v F.E.C. decision ruled limits on contributions to groups that make independent expenditures as unconstitutional. This prompted the rapid rise of Super PACs, which effectively act as shadow political parties by taking in unlimited donations from corporations, unions, billionaires and others.
End Citizens United was founded on March 1, 2015. A grassroots PAC, it is funded by small donors and seeks to reform the U.S. campaign finance system. In particular, of course, the group seeks to overturn Citizens United. It works toward these goals by supporting champions of campaign finance reform, including, of course, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
In its efforts to reform campaign finance laws and overturn Citizens United, End Citizens United uses the voices of its grassroots members to show the political clout of everyday citizens regarding the issue of money in elections and politics. The group also works to elect pro-reform candidates like Senator Warren. Finally, the group strives to make the issue of money in politics one of national priority, and its efforts appear to be making some headway.
With the powerful endorsement of End Citizens United, Senator Elizabeth Warren will enjoy incredible support during her 2018 re-election bid. The organization will benefit from its support of the senator as well, as she is one of the fiercest consumer advocates in Congress these days. By joining forces and supporting one another, End Citizens United and Senator Elizabeth Warren can simultaneously work toward achieving the very important goal of overturning Citizens United once and for all.