Democracy Initiative Organizations Release Statements in Support of Democracy for All Constitutional AmendmentSenate kicks off debate today on Sen. Udall’s (D-NM) proposed Constitutional amendment to reign in unprecedented levels of money in politics and overturn Citizens United
Washington, DC – Today, coalition members of the Democracy Initiative released statements in support of the historic Democracy for All constitutional amendment, currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. Introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), the amendment seeks to restore Congress’ authority to regulate campaign finance and curb the influence of big money in politics once and for all.
Continue reading for statements released by Democracy Initiative partners.***For interview and media requests, please contact Sean Trambley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Tyler Creighton (email@example.com).*** From Miles Rapoport, Common Cause President:
“The amendment is crafted to restore the ability of Congress and our state legislatures to put reasonable limits on political spending after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to unlimited election spending from corporations and wealthy individuals in Citizens United. It stands for the proposition that big ideas, not big money, should rule in the public square. It preserves every American’s right to speak and write as he or she pleases and protects against efforts by a privileged few to drown out that speech with a flood of negative advertising. The access and influence that money buys corrodes the integrity of our democracy.”
From Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President:
“Money isn’t speech and corporations aren’t people. But over the past few years, working and middle class Americans have seen the billions of dollars spent by corporations and the wealthy result in special access, special tax breaks and special treatment. That’s not what democracy looks like.”
From Heather McGhee, Demos President:
“The promise of American democracy is that we are all afforded an equal say over the policies that shape our lives. Instead, today’s campaign finance system allows wealthy donors and corporate interests to use million-dollar megaphones to influence government, drowning out the voices of the 99 percent of Americans who don’t make large campaign donations. The Constitution should not tolerate our public debates descending into proxy fights between billionaires and CEOs.”
From Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director :
“Today, the Senate begins debating an opportunity to reduce the influence of money in our politics. By passing the Udall Amendment, the Senate will send a signal that Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon don’t represent the will of American citizens.
“So long as corporations and a handful of very wealthy donors are allowed to buy elections, it will be difficult to protect our most important resources. The Udall Amendment will help level the playing field and allow citizens to regain their voice in our political system. Then, we can win more victories in the struggle to ban fracking, label GMOs and protect our environment from bad trade deals.”
From John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People:
“The start of this Senate floor debate marks a huge milestone for the growing grassroots movement for the 28th Amendment. Across the political spectrum, Americans want a constitutional amendment which will reclaim our democracy. In just four years since the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, millions of citizens across the country have propelled this movement to overturn the Supreme Court and to defend our Republic. Sixteen states have already gone on record calling for such an amendment, including the states of Montana and Colorado where 75% of the voters in the 2012 election supported ballot initiatives demanding an amendment. More than 550 cities and towns are also already on record, as are more than 100 Republican officials who have voted for legislative resolutions urging the US Congress to pass an amendment bill and send it to the states for ratification.
“The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people.”
From Greenpeace USA:
“The Koch brothers and other dirty energy advocates are polluting both our environment and our politics, our air and our airwaves,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “The Democracy for All Amendment will strengthen the chance for Americans to vote for candidates that care about our communities and environment, rather than those whose voices have been bought by big business. This is an essential step to ensuring a future free from catastrophic global warming.”
“The Pentagon describes global warming as a top national security threat, yet the Koch brothers and their billionaires club have spent a fortune to help deny its existence.” said Charlie Cray, co-author of a new Greenpeace report: The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy. “Greenpeace wants to see the Democracy for All Amendment stop Koch Industries, Peabody, ExxonMobil and others from using their excessive profits to dominate our elections.”
From Hillary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy:
“The corrupting role of money in politics is no secret and sadly it is ever increasing, informing who stands for office, who wins, and, most critically, the eventual public policy Congress enacts. The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2010 Citizens United v. FEC and 2014 McCutcheon vs. FEC will only exacerbate these problems. Big money is the main reason Congress is increasingly out of step with the interests of everyday Americans, particularly on issues of economic insecurity, and particularly with racial and ethnic minorities and low-income Americans. It is becoming increasingly clear that income and wealth inequality is rooted in political inequality. Until we break this dependence on big money special interests in our campaign system, the policy agenda for everyday Americans will be thwarted – whether it be improving Americans’ economic security, fighting for workers’ rights, improving stewardship of environment, or improving our neighborhoods, you name it. The basic imperatives of a healthy democracy—the right to vote and the right to have your voice be heard —desperately need to be strengthened for individuals’ votes to mean something.”
From Mary Kusler, National Education Association (NEA) Director of Government Relations: “Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC four years ago, corporate money has flooded our political system, drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans. In McCutcheon v. FEC, issued earlier this year, the Court lifted the cap on the total amount a single individual can contribute to candidates, political parties, and political committees, further tipping the scales in favor of big money donors. In 2012 alone, “Super PACs” and 501(c)4 entities spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of elections.“Congress and the states are helpless to prevent the resulting distortion of our democracy. In effect, the Supreme Court decisions cited above are denying regular people an equal say in determining the future of our country. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Congress to turn down the volume on corporate speech and big money donors, so individual citizens could be heard as our nation’s founders intended.” From Marge Baker, People for the American Way Executive Vice President:
“Today, more money than ever is flooding our democracy. But something else is also happening: everyday Americans are fighting back. Americans are no longer willing to settle for elections auctioned to the highest bidders.”
From Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign President and CEO:
“In the simplest terms, this debate will let the American people know who is on the side of the many and who is on the side of the money. A successful vote on the Democracy for All amendment would set us on a course for change, permitting common sense limits on campaign spending and a way to stem the tide of special interest money in elections.”
From Robert Weissman, Public Citizen President:
“Outside money – hundreds of millions in “dark money,” from sources undisclosed – are determining the contours of elections across the country, often stealing control of campaign narratives from candidates themselves. Degrading and depressing negative ads fill the airwaves, heightening citizen cynicism and frustration. Meanwhile, candidates scramble to raise the millions they can from the narrow band of wealthy people who fund most campaigns.
“We need a fundamental fix, which is why it is so vital to enact the Democracy for All Amendment, which would overturn Citizens United and other decisions, and restore our democracy.”
From Mike Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director:
“The fundamentally-flawed Citizens United decision opened up the floodgates for a tidal wave of toxic polluter money into our government, drowning out the voices of those who are fighting for the health of our communities. Enough is enough. With the vote on this amendment, each Senator goes on the record as to whether they want a government for the polluters or for the people.”
### The Democracy Initiative (DI) is a coalition of 50 civil rights, environmental, labor, and civic organizations formed to restore the core principles democracy and political equality. Originally formed in 2012, the DI represents more than 30 million members nationwide.