January 24, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 40

Washington joins backlash against ‘Citizens United’ decision

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers are being asked to take a stand on campaign finance reform.

Demos and Washington News Service
Demos and U.S. PIRG call this “The Millionaires Club,” and cite it as proof of the clout created for the wealthiest Americans by the Citizens United decision.

On Jan. 17, a coalition called WAMEND presented the Legislature with 10,000 signatures, asking lawmakers to go on record advocating an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision. That’s the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended campaign-spending limits for corporations and special interest groups.

A new report from the watchdog group Demos says big businesses and their wealthy owners now dominate political fundraising more than ever.

“The top 32 super-PAC donors, contributing an average of nearly $10 million each, matched all of the money that both President Obama and Mitt Romney raised from small donors, combined,” Demos staff counsel Adam Lioz said. “And that’s $313 million, from at least 3.7 million people giving less than $200 apiece.”

The Demos report says the campaign finance system favors incumbents over challengers and grassroots candidates, and makes it impossible to track some donations, which don’t have to be reported if they fall outside a certain time period before the elections.

Another report, released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), says almost one-third of the outside spending reported to the Federal Elections Commission was by organizations that don’t have to disclose the original sources of their funds.

Blair Bowie, a democracy advocate with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, says voters didn’t know who was really behind more than half of all presidential TV ads paid for by outside groups - and Congressional races were affected, too.

“In the 20 states we analyzed, 90 percent of outside spending on House and Senate races came from out-of-state groups,” Bowie said.”

Last weekend around the country, including several cities in Washington, groups are rallied and staged other events to coincide with the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

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