Candidates From Throughout Country Agree That Supreme Court's Citizens United Ruling Subverts Democracy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dozens of candidates for Congress have pledged to support a constitutional amendment to overturn a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling and thereby help ensure that elections are not hijacked by corporations. The candidates responded to a call from People For the American Way and Public Citizen, which last month launched the pledge drive at www.PledgeForDemocracy.org.
The Supreme Court in January ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. Upcoming congressional elections are expected to be swamped with ads and fliers paid for by corporate interests. Already, new organizations have been formed to take advantage of the ruling.
At this early stage of the pledge campaign, 48 congressional candidates already have signed the pledge to support such an amendment – 35 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and 13 candidates for U.S. Senate. They are competing in races in more than two dozen states, ranging from Alaska and Idaho to Florida and Illinois. A complete list of candidates who have taken the pledge is below.
"Americans are fed up with government that responds to corporate money, not the needs of ordinary Americans," said Michael B. Keegan, president of People For the American Way. "The depth of feeling is palpable. We've already seen that candidates who want to serve their constituents have been eager to sign onto this campaign. More are signing on every day, and we're confident that pace will only increase."
Added Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, "Corporations already rule the roost in Washington. Witness the oil industry's free pass to drill offshore without adequate environmental scrutiny or the health insurance industry's enormous influence over the outcome of the health care debate, to name just two of countless examples. The Supreme Court's decision threatens to make a bad situation exponentially worse. We applaud candidates who stand up and say that this must be stopped."
In 2008, to take just one example, ExxonMobil's profits amounted to more than $85 billion. If Citizens United had been the law in that year and the company had spent a modest 10 percent of its profits – $8.5 billion – to elect its friends and defeat its enemies, it would have amounted to more than was spent by the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign, every U.S. House and Senate candidate, and every state legislative candidate in the country combined. If mega-corporations want to flood elections with money to promote or defeat candidates, they have the cash to do so.
While interim measures – such as disclosing the identities of campaign ad funders and giving more power to shareholders over corporate political expenditures – can help, the only way to overturn the decision is through a constitutional amendment. Public Citizen and People For the American Way support an amendment spelling out that corporations, with the exception of the media, do not have the same First Amendment rights as people.
At PledgeForDemocracy.org, voters can use an interactive map to learn who has taken the pledge – and who hasn't. People For the American Way and Public Citizen are calling on voters to contact candidates who have not pledged and urge them to do so.
Candidates who have taken the pledge include: House candidates: Rep. Steve Cohen (D, Tenn. 09), Rep. Donna Edwards (D, Md. 04), Rep. Alan Grayson (D, Fla. 08), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D, Ariz. 07), Rep. John Hall (D, N.Y. 19), Rep. Betty Sutton (D, Ohio 13), Timothy Allison (D, Calif. 24), Kevin Bradley (D, Colo. 05), Macdonald King D'Alessandro (D, Mass. 09), Rafael "Del" del Castillo (D, Hawaii 01), Justin Coussoule (D, Ohio 08), Jeff Gregory (D, N.C. 10), Bill Hedrick (D, Calif. 44), Jim Holbert (D, Ky. 05), Travis Irvine (Lib., Ohio 12), Fred Johnson (D, MI 02), Joseph Krysztoforski (R, Md. 06), Ann McLane Kuster (D, N.H. 02), Brian Lentz (D, Pa. 07), Ed Marksberry (D, Ky. 02), Scott Narter (Independent American Party, Nev. 03), Roy Olson (Green, Wash. 09), Michael Pipe (D, Pa. 05), Nancy Price (D, Nev. 02), Brian Schad (I, Idaho 02), William Scheurer (Green, Ill. 08), David Alan Segal (D, R.I. 01), Perry Steele (I, Tenn. 09), Gary Stein (D, N.J. 02), Katrina Swett (D, N.H. 02), Manan Trivedi (D, Pa. 06), John Waltz (D, Ky. 04), David Whitaker (D, Ark. 03), Dave John White (I, Okla. 05) and Kyle Yarber (I, Mo. 06).
Senate candidates: William Barnes (D, Ala.), Roxanne Conlin (D, Iowa), Chris Coons (D, Del..), Lee Fisher (D, Ohio), Alexi Giannoulias (D, Ill.), John Gray (Grn., Ark.), Frederick Haase (Lib., Alaska), Rep. Paul Hodes (D, N.H.), Daniel La Botz (Soc., Ohio), Elaine Marshall (D, N.C.), Tracy Potter (D, N.D.), Duane Roberts (Green, Calif.) and Rick Staggenborg (Green, Ore.).