by Diane Riemer, Amending Campaign Spending, an IMC action team
The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision loosened campaign finance restrictions and allowed anonymous corporations, non-profits, labor unions, super PACs, anonymous “dark money” sources, and the ultra-rich to donate unlimited sums to politicians and campaigns. The amount of money that both parties have spent over the last three election cycles has nearly tripled, reaching $20 billion in the 2022 mid-term elections.
Spending for the 2024 Presidential election will no doubt far exceed that number. Republican mega-donor Jeff Yass, for example, has reportedly donated $55 million to support Republicans in various federal elections and has donated $750,000 of the $1 million raised to defeat Helen Gym, democratic candidate for the mayor of Philadelphia.
New information indicates that excessive donations from the ultra-rich is spreading to other sectors of civil society and further limiting the voices of individual voters. Steve Kirsch, tech entrepreneur turned anti-vaccine activist, has spent $2 million to organize a sustained legal insurgency against public health agencies, drug manufacturers, hospitals, and schools.
Additionally, the 1776 Project PAC, formed in early 2021 to move school boards to the right, has spent $4 million to support local school board candidates — with nearly $1million coming from Illinois-based megadonor, Richard Uihlein.
Campaign finance reform is a critical piece of preserving voter rights. Here are several actions you can take to protect these rights at the state and national levels:
- Massachusetts House Resolution 3768, a resolution to overturn Citizens United, was recently referred to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. (More than 22 states and more than 800 municipalities have passed similar resolutions.) Urge your state Senator and Representativeto sign-on to this resolution.
- MassDems for Reforms is drafting a resolution to prohibit Dark Money in Massachusetts State Primaries that will come up for a vote at this year’s Massachusetts Democratic Convention. Sign up for their updates at MassDemsforReform@gmail.com.
- U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Dean Phillips (D-MN.), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA.), and Jim McGovern (D-MA.) reintroduced the Democracy for All Amendment in January 2023, which would overturn Citizens United. Let your U.S. Representative and Senators know you support the Democracy For All Amendment.
- To overturn Citizens United, we must increase the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and restore a majority in the House. We must all promote voter registration and help get out the vote in 2024.
- As the next election cycle begins, ask candidates what they are doing to prioritize campaign finance reform.