Payne Joins 62 Members, Applaud Senate Judiciary Hearings on Overturning Citizens United, McCutcheon Rulings

Jun 2, 2014 Issues: Local Issues

Today, Congressman Donald  M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) and 62 Members of Congress sent a letter applauding Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for holding Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC, and other court decisions responsible for eroding our federal campaign finance laws. Tomorrow's June 3rd hearing will be the first full Judiciary Committee hearing of its kind since the Supreme Court issued its ​Citizen United ​decision in 2010 and prompted an unprecedented explosion of outside spending in our elections by deep-pocketed donors and special interests. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to schedule a mark-up in the coming weeks on a constitutional amendment that will eventually head to the Senate floor. 

"Since 2010 when the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, our elections have been exploited by wealthy individuals, corporations, and other special interests through Super PACs and 501(c)4 groups that may spend limitless sums of money influencing voters," write the members. "These rulings have declared spending money in elections to be a form of protected speech and embraced the court’s misguided holding in Buckley v. Valeo that expenditures made independently of any candidate’s campaign do not cause government corruption. The Supreme Court went even further this year in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission when it struck down federal aggregate donation limits and held that the First Amendment gives campaign donors just as much of a right to influence public officials as the voters who elected them."

They continue, "Only a constitutional amendment that overturns these deeply flawed decisions will return constitutional legitimacy to campaign finance laws. Such an amendment must make clear that limits on contributions and expenditures, systems of public financing for elections, and the promotion of transparency do not disenfranchise the wealthy few but promote the political equality of all Americans in our democracy... Your decision to hold hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee represents an important step forward for a nationwide movement to restore the balance of power to the people for whom this democracy was founded."

Click here to read the entire letter, which was signed by Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-21), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Donna F. Edwards (MD-4), John Conyers (MI-13), Charles B. Rangel (NY-13), George Miller (CA-11), Henry A. Waxman (CA-33), Marcy Kaptur(OH-9) , Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-25), Nita M. Lowey (NY-17), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Gene Green (TX-29), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Bobby L. Rush (IL-1), Sam Farr (CA-20), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Adam Smith (WA-9), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rush Holt (NJ-12), John B. Larson (CT-1), Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-9), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Michael M. Honda (CA-17), Steve Israel (NY-2), Rick Larsen (WA-2), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Steve Cohen (TN-9), David Loebsack (IA-2), John P. Sarbanes (MD-3), Peter Welch (VT-At-large), John A. Yarmuth (KY-3), Niki Tsongas (MA-3), Richard M. Nolan (MN-8), Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Mike Quigley (Il-5), John Garamendi (CA-3), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-1), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Alan Grayson (FL-9), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), William L. Enyart (IL-12), Elizabeth H. Esty (CT-5), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Eric Swallwell (D-CA), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Katherine Clark (MA-5).

Election Spending in the Age of Citizens United

  • In 2012, nearly 90 percent of Super PAC funding from individuals came in contributions of at least $50,000 and almost 60 percent came in $1,000,000 or more. 
  • 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) groups spent over $300 million in the 2012 elections that cannot be traced to any source - amounting to more than 60 percent of outside spending for the cycle. 
  • More than 60% of that outside spending in 2012 came from Super PACs capable of accepting anonymous donations from 501(c)4s, individuals, corporations, and unions.
  • About 95 percent of economic gains since the start of the economic recovery in 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent.
  • The Supreme Court's ​McCutcheon v. FEC ​decision struck down the aggregate federal donation limit of $123,200, an amount already twice the income of the average American household.
  • After ​McCutcheon​, wealthy donors may now contribute over $3.5 million to candidates and party committees, plus a virtually limitless amount to politically-aligned PACs)