U.S. House: Reformers Urge House Administration Chair to Hold Hearings to Address 2012 Election Abuses & Fixes
The Campaign Legal Center today joined with ten reform groups to urge newly installed House Administration Committee Chair Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) to hold hearings early in the 113th Congress to examine potential legislative solutions to repair the a campaign finance system run amok in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The letter emphasized the broad public support for repairing the damage done to our democratic process by big donors and secret contributions.
Hearings were urged to discuss the myriad abuses of the current system in the 2012 elections that saw an explosion of outside money including hundreds of millions of dollars laundered through shell corporations and opaque tax-exempt organization leaving open the question of whether foreign funds might have been used to influence our elections. Further the letter urged hearings on proposed legislation to expand donor disclosure and bills designed enhance the role of small donors
The full text of the letter follows below.
Public Campaign * Americans for Campaign Reform * Campaign Legal Center * Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) * Common Cause * Democracy 21 * Democracy Matters * Demos * Public Citizen * Rootstrikers * U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
The Honorable Candice Miller, ChairwomanCommittee on House Administration1309 Longworth House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515
January 30, 2013
Dear Chairwoman Miller:
As the chair of the Committee on House Administration, we want to congratulate you on your new role and look forward to working with you and your staff.
In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, an estimated $6 billion was spent, with more than $1 billion coming from non‐party outside groups. By some accounts, approximately 31 percent of outside spending was funded by “secret” undisclosed donors.
We are writing to request that you hold hearings early in the 113th Congress on the Citizens United decision to examine potential legislative solutions to a system out of control, including consideration of disclosure reforms. According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll, nearly two‐thirds of 2012 voters (including 71 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Republicans) said that big donors and secret money undermined democracy in this election.
There are a number of questions that your Committee should examine in light of the 2012 elections. These include: Was any of that undisclosed money spent by special interests trying to get favorable treatment for pending legislation before Congress? Did “shell” organizations form just to spend money in elections and then disband immediately afterward to try to hide information from voters? Did foreign corporations that are hostile to U.S. interests spend money trying to influence public policy?
The hearings should also address the proliferation of political spending by ultrawealthy individuals and special interest‐backed super PACs. Nearly 60 percent of super PAC funding came from just 159 donors contributing at least $1 million, according to a Demos‐US PIRG report. In House races, just 0.14 percent of Americans made itemized contributions to congressional candidates. Various proposals (the Grassroots Democracy Act, Fair Elections Now Act, and Empowering Citizens Act) that would enhance the role of small donors should be analyzed to ensure that we have “government of the many, not of the money.”
For our democracy to flourish, we must find new, meaningful ways for average citizens to have a stronger voice in the process, and citizens have a right – and a need – to know who is spending money to influence the outcome of our elections.
Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact Aaron Scherb ([email protected] or 202‐736‐5726) with any questions, and we look forward to your response.
Sincerely, Nick NyhartPresident and CEOPublic Campaign Meredith McGeheePolicy DirectorCampaign Legal Center Lisa GilbertDirector, Congress WatchPublic Citizen Joan MandleExecutive DirectorDemocracy Matters Lawrence NoblePresident and CEOAmericans for Campaign Reform Adam LiozCounselDemos Blair BowieDemocracy AdvocateU.S. Public Interest Research Group Fred WertheimerPresidentDemocracy 21 Karen Hobert FlynnSenior Vice President for Strategy and ProgramsCommon Cause Lawrence LessigFounderRootstrikers Melanie SloanExecutive DirectorCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington cc: Ranking Member Congressman Robert Brady