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ON DAY OF ORAL ARGUMENT IN MCCUTCHEON V. FEC, GROUPS GATHER TO PUSH BACK ON BIG MONEY IN POLITICS, DEMAND SOLUTIONS
Contact Ashley Afranie-Sakyi, 215-732-3747
Today PennPIRG, The Sierra Club, UFCW 1776 Local, Common Cause, Philly Rootstrikers, WolfPAC, JustLaws, and State Representative Mark Cohen gathered at the James A. Byrne Courthouse to push back on the power of big money in elections, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. Advocates say the case would further increase the electoral clout of a few large donors.
In the case, Alabama donor Shaun McCutcheon will ask to strike down the overall limit on what an individual can give to federal candidates, parties, and PACs in a two year election cycle. That limit currently stands at $123,200 – over twice the average household income in the U.S. In 2012, only 1,219 donors came within 10% of hitting the aggregate limit. New research from U.S. PIRG and Demos projects that if the limit is lifted, this small set of donors would raise their giving and inject an additional $1 billion in campaign contributions through the 2020 elections.
The Supreme Court has never struck down a federal contribution limit, maintaining that these limits are constitutional because they prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. The groups argue that right now, when confidence in Congress is at an all time low, it would be extremely unwise to toss aside that precedent.
“Most Americans do not feel that our voices are being heard on Capitol Hill, and who could blame us? In Citizens United the Supreme Court handed a giant megaphone to the wealthiest interests, and today it will consider turning up the volume even higher,” said Ashley Afranie-Sakyi at PennPIRG. “The last thing we need right now is to increase the giving of the donors with the deepest pockets. Rather, we should be empowering small donors so that ordinary Americans can provide the funds needed to run campaigns.”
“In today’s environment of expensive communication technologies, money is vital to the success of many campaigns” said State Representative Cohen. “But this well-known fact ought not to be able to undermine democracy itself. We need meaningful regulation of money in political campaigns”.
“Citizens United is an assault to our country’s democracy”. said Eric Thomas from UFCW 1776 Local. “Distorting the idea of freedom, Citizens United only works to serve big business and promote corporatist agenda, not your average citizen.”
The Sierra Club believes that the Citizens United decision, if not checked by congressional action will continue to: Decrease the dedication of members of Congress and the state legislatures to the long-term best interests of the nation and the states by increasing their obligations to powerful corporate and other commercial interests;, shift political power away from voters to corporations and moneyed interests, reduce the quality and diversity of candidates for public office by increasing the
already distorting role of money in elections; and decrease public trust in the power of voting and public-interest lobbying" said William Kramer. “ By increasing aggregate spending limits, McCutcheon will make this problem worse".
Phyllis Belk from Common Cause asked for the people of Philadelphia to, “stand with us, speak out, urge city council to place a question on the city ballot in which we Philadelphians can join with other cities and states to tell the politicians to get money out of politics.”
“If history has taught us anything, it's how dangerous it is for Americans to presume the Supreme Court can do no wrong. Past cases prove that the Supreme Court doesn't always do the right thing, and it's our duty as citizens to make sure wrong rulings don't stand”, said Alex Sheppard of the Philly Rootstrikers. “Regardless of what kind of statement the Supreme Court is making, if it decides our democracy was built to be auctioned to the highest bidder, Americans need to speak out against it”.
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