Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12) announced the introduction of H.R. 1338, the Restoring Confidence in Our Democracy Act, legislation to set contribution limits on donations to Super PACs and establish findings that would allow for the overturning of the flawed Citizens United v. FEC decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25) joined Dingell as a co-sponsor of this important legislation.
"Flawed campaign finance laws have allowed for the corrupt purchasing of our elections by corporate special interests and millionaires that want to put a price on our representation," said Dingell. "The Supreme Court's allowance of quid pro quo and pay-to-play politics is unhealthy for the future of our Nation and flies in the face of the very freedoms secured by our Founding Fathers in establishing this great experiment in representational democracy. This legislation is simple and will begin to reign in the out of control Super PAC presence we now see in elections up and down the ticket."
Dingell was joined in introducing the legislation by original cosponsors Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT).
"Citizens United has turned our elections into auctions," said Slaughter. "When powerful corporations, special interest groups, and wealthy individuals are allowed to use unlimited amounts of secret money to elect candidates, you end up with a government that favors the desires of the elite over the needs of the citizen. Those of us in public service have an obligation to restore fairness to our democracy, and it starts with getting rid of Citizens United and enacting real campaign finance reform."
"We cannot allow for corporate special interests to dominate the democratic process with unlimited donations to Super PACs, which function in the cloak of darkness to influence elections," said Polis. "Our legislation would place contribution limits on donations to Super PACs and place us one small step closer to a more fair democratic process."
"With an ill-advised spate of judicial activism, five Supreme Court justices struck down the distinction between individuals and corporations in election law and opened the floodgates to a hostile corporate takeover of our democratic process," said DeLauro. "The Restoring Confidence in Our Democracy Act would counter the Court's blatant overreaching and stem the tide of special interest influence over our political system. I am proud to cosponsor this bill and I hope we can ensure the people's voices are always heard more strongly in the halls of Congress than the dollars of special interests."
"We've now seen the impact of virtually unlimited funds from undisclosed contributors to super PACs through one election cycle and it's not pretty," said Maloney. "This bill would apply the same disclosure requirements to super PACs as regular PACs, and outlaw direct independent expenditures from corporate funds. I've said it before: our democracy must not be for sale to the highest bidder."
"We have an obligation to act now before the unlimited secret contributions unleashed by the Citizens United decision do permanent damage to our democracy," said Norton.
"Congress has a responsibility to take action and close the door to unlimited corporate and individual spending in our elections," said Edwards. "Citizens United paved the way for the 2012 elections to cost over $7 billion, with $2.1 billion spent by outside political committees, including $970 million in Super PAC spending. Congressman Dingell's legislation puts us on the path to ensuring that the American people, and not corporations, are permanently in charge of our political process."
The legislation has also received the support of Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group that allows citizens to work to hold elected leaders accountable.
"Common Cause applauds [the] re-introduction of the Restoring Confidence in Our Democracy Act," said Bob Edgar, President and CEO of Common Cause. "With the stroke of a pen, the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC overturned a century of well-settled law and unleashed the floodgates to a torrent of secret, special interest money in our elections. Without any factual record before the Court, and without citing any evidence or findings of Congress, the Court ruled that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, to not give rise to the corruption or the appearance of corruption.' The American people know that the Court's factual error defies common sense."