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In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ushered in a new era of big money in politics with the misguided decision Citizens United v. FEC. But even after Citizens United, Congress and state legislatures can still enact many important money-in-politics reforms that would protect the voices of voters in our democracy. This report briefly describes the six most important and impactful reforms.
The failure of the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion in secret spending and our politics are increasingly rigged in favor of wealthy special interests. How can the FEC be fixed?
CLC has filed with the Federal Election Commission a supplemental complaint alleging that Representative Lori Trahan knowingly and willfully violated federal law by receiving approximately $300,000 in excessive contributions for her 2018 congressional campaign and falsely reporting those contributions as personal loans. CLC’s original complaint against Lori Trahan for Congress is available here.
CLC led a coalition of 21 organizations and individuals calling for the restoration of a voting quorum at the Federal Election Commission to protect the transparency and fairness of our elections.
A nationwide survey of likely 2020 general election voters commissioned by Campaign Legal Center finds that voters overwhelmingly want the Federal Election Commission to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.
Undetected coordination between candidates and special interests erodes the accountability to everyday voters we need from our elected officials. The problem is especially acute with super PACs and corporations.
CLC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Iowa Values violated campaign finance law by failing to register as a political committee and file required reports with the FEC. The complaint outlines a number of facts, including a fundraising appeal, a strategy memo, and digital ads that the group ran, that appear to show that Iowa Values, a 501(c)(4) organization, has the major purpose of influencing the re-election of U.S. Senator Joni Ernst and therefore should have registered as a political committee.
On November 13, 2019, Erin Chlopak, CLC’s Director of Campaign Finance Strategy, testified on behalf of North Dakotans for Public Integrity (NDPI), the committee that sponsored the transparency ballot measure that passed as a constitutional amendment in 2018. Chlopak provided to the testimony to the Interim Judiciary Committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, describing how wealthy special interests pour millions of dollars into state and federal elections while concealing their identity as the sources of that spending and even misleading voters about who is actually behind political advertising. Chlopak explained the U.S. Supreme Court’s long-standing approval of transparency requirements for election spending as foundational to democratic self-government and described how loopholes in current state and federal laws allow groups to spend enormous amounts of money in elections without disclosing the true source of that money. Chlopak also identified some key legislative features of election spending transparency rules that will ensure the true sources of election spending are disclosed.
On November 13, 2019, CLC submitted this statement to the Interim Judiciary Committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, on behalf of North Dakotans for Public Integrity. The statement urges the Committee to implement North Dakota’s new state constitutional amendment, Article XIV, in a way that provides transparency in election spending. An effective implementation of Article XIV would make sure that there are no loopholes by which wealthy special interests can secretly spend in North Dakota elections and keep their identities hidden from the public. The Committee has an opportunity now to ensure that state law complies with the transparency mandate in Article XIV and that North Dakotans have the information they need to effectively participate in our democracy.