Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United v. FEC giving corporations and special interests the same free speech rights as individuals, hundreds of independent groups known as “Super PACs” have already collected and spent millions of dollars and can raise and spend unlimited funds to influence elections while completely shielding their identities. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) – continuing his decades-long effort to inject more transparency into elections – has cosponsored legislation in the U.S. Senate to create a constitutional amendment giving Congress the power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.
The Supreme Court’s ruling severely hampered the Congress’ ability to create lasting, fair campaign finance law. The proposed Constitutional amendment will return that power to the Congress and allow individual states some autonomy to create election financing laws that work best for them.
“Americans deserve to know the true interests behind the political ads they see and the campaigns of the candidates they choose to support,” Wyden said. “This is impossible in a system where unlimited sums of money can be anonymously raised and spent to support a candidate or derail a campaign. Accountability in elections is as important now as it was when I authored the original ‘Stand by your Ad’ legislation requiring candidates to publicly approve the ads their campaigns run. With the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision already becoming clear, a constitutional amendment is necessary to safeguard against the influence of big money and anonymous spending.”
The Constitutional amendment would:
· Authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaign contributions and expenditures (including independent expenditures);
· Allow states to regulate that raising and spending at their level; and
·Permit Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that could withstand constitutional challenges without prescribing what the reforms should be.
Along with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Wyden authored the “Stand by your Ad” provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) in 2002 and has long championed improved transparency in federal elections. He was a primary cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act — the legislative response to the Citizens United ruling — that would bar foreign-controlled corporations, government contractors and companies that have received government assistance from making political expenditures. It would also have extended the “Stand by your Ad” provision to require a corporate CEO, union leader, or advocacy group head to say that he or she “approves this message,” just like candidates do now.