In the news

MASSPIRG
|
Cambridge Chronicle
By
Janet Domenitz
  • Jan. 21 marked four years since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United versus FEC. This decision opened the floodgates for big money in our elections, enabling a small number of mega-donors to drown out the voices of average Americans, but it alsosparked a movement across the country to reclaim our democracy.

    Since January 2010, 16 states and more than 500 municipalities across the country have gone on record against the Citizens United ruling, including Massachusetts and 170 of our cities and towns. They all passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that will allow for limits on big money in elections to protect political equality for all Americans.

    Yet as momentum for change has grown, so has big money’s role in our elections. In the 2012 election — the most expensive in our history — a huge chunk of the money came from a tiny number of contributors. In fact, the top 32 donors to Super PACs in the 2012 election, giving an average of $9.9 million each, contributed as much as every small donor to Obama and Romney combined. This means 32 people spent the same amount as 3.7 million Americans.

    In 2012, Massachusetts held the dubious distinction of holding the most expensive congressional race in the country; a total of more than $75 million was spent in the U.S. Senate race.

    The influence of big money does not stop at federal races.

    Last year, outside special interest groups spent $3.8 million on the two finalists in Boston’s mayoral election, one of several campaign spending records broken in that race. Big money is quite at home here in the Bay State.

    Allowing unlimited spending in our elections gives undue power to those in our country who can afford to spend millions each election cycle.

    As big money gets bigger, we can expect politicians to spend even more time courting million-dollar Super PAC contributions than donations from regular Americans — and that means ordinary voters’ voices will get drowned out.

    Deregulating election spending is like handing a megaphone to wealth special interests, who then drown out the voices of average Americans in the political process. Millions of ordinary Americans who support candidates with their hard-earned money are finding that huge contributions from just a few big-money donors render their political donations nearly inconsequential.

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court seems intent on rolling back campaign finance reform. In October 2013 they heard another case, McCutcheon versus FEC, and the outcome could allow even more big money into our elections leaving the overall election system in a worse state than after Citizens United.

    The good news is we don’t have to follow the Supreme Court down this road. It’s not too late to turn the ship around. In fact, while there is no instant fix, we can enact reforms right now to strengthen the voice of average Americans to preserve the integrity of our democracy.

    With this in mind, we are pushing for support for a bill in Congress that would start to counteract big money. Congressmen Michael Capuano and James McGovern and Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas have already signed on as original cosponsors for the Government by the People Act, due to be introduced in Congress this month. This legislation would create a small donor empowerment program. The program would provide a tax credit for small contributions to encourage more participation and matching funds for candidates who actively seek funds from a broad swath of their constituents.

    Such a measure would counteract mega-donors in elections by amplifying the voice of the American public and take us one step closer to ensuring a government of, by and for the people. All of us should encourage our entire delegation to commit to getting this bill passed, as soon as possible.

    Janet S. Domenitz, a Cambridge resident, is the executive director of MASSPIRG.

    - See more at: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20140128/NEWS/140126281/0/SEARC...

With this in mind, we are pushing for support for a bill in Congress that would start to counteract big money. Congressmen Michael Capuano and James McGovern and Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas have already signed on as original cosponsors for the Government by the People Act, due to be introduced in Congress this month. This legislation would create a small donor empowerment program. The program would provide a tax credit for small contributions to encourage more participation and matching funds for candidates who actively seek funds from a broad swath of their constituents.

Such a measure would counteract mega-donors in elections by amplifying the voice of the American public and take us one step closer to ensuring a government of, by and for the people. All of us should encourage our entire delegation to commit to getting this bill passed, as soon as possible.

Janet S. Domenitz, a Cambridge resident, is the executive director of MASSPIRG.

- See more at: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20140128/NEWS/140126281/0/SEARC...

With this in mind, we are pushing for support for a bill in Congress that would start to counteract big money. Congressmen Michael Capuano and James McGovern and Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas have already signed on as original cosponsors for the Government by the People Act, due to be introduced in Congress this month. This legislation would create a small donor empowerment program. The program would provide a tax credit for small contributions to encourage more participation and matching funds for candidates who actively seek funds from a broad swath of their constituents.

Such a measure would counteract mega-donors in elections by amplifying the voice of the American public and take us one step closer to ensuring a government of, by and for the people. All of us should encourage our entire delegation to commit to getting this bill passed, as soon as possible.

Janet S. Domenitz, a Cambridge resident, is the executive director of MASSPIRG.

- See more at: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20140128/NEWS/140126281/0/SEARC...

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