In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court unleashed a tidal wave of unlimited corporate political spending by overturning federal prohibitions on the use of corporate funds for political purposes. This ruling has muted the voices of everyday Americans who do not have the financial resources necessary to compete with unlimited corporate funds. If left unchecked, this tide could fundamentally undermine the fairness of our electoral process. Simply put, we must make clear that corporations are not people, and money is not speech.
That is why I have joined with Representative McGovern to push for two constitutional amendments that would overrule Citizens United. The first amendment would explicitly grant Congress the authority to regulate political spending, and the second would clarify that the rights protected by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons, not corporations. Together these amendments would make clear that Congress has the Constitutional authority to regulate corporate spending in our elections.
However, I recognize that amending the Constitution is a long and difficult process and campaign finance reform cannot wait. That is why I am cosponsoring H.R. 148, the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would shine light on corporate political spending by requiring the disclosure of the top donors for television and radio advertisements. While Citizens United may prevent Congress from stopping corporate political spending, the DISCLOSE Act would force those corporations to tell the public, and their stockholders, what political messages they support with their money.
Finally, I have joined with over 130 of my House Democratic colleagues in supporting legislation to create a new campaign financing system using public matching funds for small dollar campaign donations. H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act, would create a voluntary, semi-public, alternative campaign financing system that provides a six to one match for donations up to $150 per election. This legislation is a critical first step towards eliminating the influence of big money from our political system.