Statement of Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG Legislative Director, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Supreme Court v. McCutcheon decision
April 2, 2015, Boston, MA
There are three things most Americans agree on:
1-Big money has no place in politics
2-Money given to politicians, or groups that elect them, shouldn’t be hidden
3-Unlimited big money, and especially that hidden from the public, leads to a profound lack of faith in our electoral system
Unfortunately there are three things which have happened in the last several years, which crush what most people want:
1-In the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, the Court opened the floodgates to corporate spending by removing a ban on corporations using their treasury funds for direct advocacy. They have since spent tens of millions of dollars on electoral campaigns.
2-In the 2014 Supreme Court McCutcheon decision, the Court overturned limits on aggregate federal campaign contributions by individuals. The dissenting members of the Court said: “Taken together with Citizens United, this decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws…”
3-Loopholes created as a result of both decisions leave much of this political spending in the dark.
While there are a dozen or more reforms needed to address all these problems, and MASSPIRG is working on a number of them along with our coalition partners, we are here today, to ask President Obama to enact a simple one: transparency for political spending by those who do business with the government.
It’s our tax dollars which pay for government contracts. Those contracts---to build highways or schools, provide office supplies or uniforms, or thousands of other things---go to private companies. So doesn’t it stand to reason that the public should see how much money these companies—and their owners—are spending? And on what political campaigns? Right now, they can spend political money in the dark. But President Obama can take the blinders off, by issuing an Executive Order saying that companies awarded government contracts must disclose their political spending.
The Supreme Court was wrong to allow unlimited corporate money into politics, but while that is allowed, companies - especially those that get taxpayer dollars - should be transparent with their political spending. We have way more problems with big money in politics than any one reform can solve. But we can lift one cloud if President Obama issues an Executive Order requiring more transparency from companies doing business with our tax dollars.