The disastrous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruled that campaign donations were a type of free speech. This ruling essentially deregulated limits on elections spending, allowing special interest groups and wealthy donors to spend as much as they wanted in campaigns without the need for transparency, thus permitting billionaires the power to control American elections.
The group End Citizens United (ECU) is working hard to change this. Headquartered in Washington D.C., ECU is a nonprofit political action committee, or PAC, built by grassroots donors with the goal to end all big money in politics. As a traditional PAC, it cannot accept donations larger than $5,000 from any individual donor. Despite the donation limit, its wide-ranging fundraising efforts have brought in many new donors and raised $25 million in 2016, even topping the lists of elections spending by Democratic-aligned groups. ECU has even higher aspirations for 2018 and is expected to raise and spend $35 million on reelection races.
End Citizens United has been active across the country, and their plan to accomplish election reform is to get “finance reform champions” elected. It endorses candidates who refuse to accept corporate PAC money like Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Booker was praised for renouncing PAC donations in a statement by ECU’s president Tiffany Muller, “Senator Booker’s decision to reject corporate PAC money demonstrates his leadership in the fight to unrig the system that’s leaving too many Americans behind.” Of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ms. Muller stated, “By taking the pledge, Senator Gillibrand is taking a firm stand against Big Money.” The number of candidates who have stopped using corporate PAC money has been growing with ECU endorsing more than 70 people running for office, including Senate candidates Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, and Debbie Stabenow.
In addition to supporting candidates, End Citizens United has targeted a group of people in Congress it calls the “Big Money 20” it considers to be part of the problem. These are individuals who have favored special interests over their own constituents by repeatedly accepting big corporate donations or backing legislation that benefited big donors and opposing campaign reform. The list includes such individuals as Speaker Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz.
— End Citizens United (@StopBigMoney) March 20, 2018