President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign took the unfortunate step last night of announcing it would support the Super PAC Priorities USA. The campaign’s unwillingness to disarm in the face of an expected rash of attack ads from secretive and unaccountable Republican-leading Super PACs and independent organizations is understandable, but the president’s engagement in the Super PAC arms race virtually ensures we will witness the nastiest campaign in memory. Even more disturbingly, it transfers still more power and influence to the miniscule coterie of super-wealthy individuals and corporations who dominate funding of the Super PACs and independent organizations.
We are now in the midst of a Citizens United-induced democracy death spiral. Public Citizen supports a range of measures – including public financing of elections, disclosure, requirements for shareholder approval of corporate election spending and prohibitions on election spending by lobbyists and government contractors – to mitigate the damage from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that corporations can spend whatever they want to influence election outcomes, but rescuing our democracy will require that Citizens United be overturned by a constitutional amendment.
We are very pleased that Obama’s campaign has announced support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and authorize limits on campaign spending.*
A fast-growing nationwide movement is rising to demand a constitutional amendment and rescue our democracy from capture by narrow corporate and super-wealthy interests. All elected officials and those seeking elected office should now be challenged: With the Citizens United wreckage apparent – and the certainty that things are going to get much worse in Election – do they support a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision? And those who do support an amendment must be challenged to advocate for it aggressively. Expect an increasingly outraged and mobilized public to demand exactly that.
Robert Weissman is the President of Public Citizen.
* Jim Messina blog post, Feb. 6, 2012: “The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending.” http://www.barackobama.com/news/entry/we-will-not-play-by-two-sets-of-rules
Public Citizen was legal counsel to McCain & Feingold during Citizens United vs. FEC and announced plans to campaign for a constitutional amendment the day the ruling was handed down. Learn more about our Democracy Is For People campaign and be sure to follow our campaign Twitter handle @RuleByUs for all the latest information on the push for a 28th amendment and other related initiatives.