HENRICO, V.A. — On the 10th anniversary of the Citizens United decision, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today called on the U.S. Senate to vote on a comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform package passed in the U.S. House last year.
January 21, 2020 marks 10 years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling, which substantially expanded the influence of corporate special interests and mega-donors in the American political process. To combat the effects of this decision, Spanberger is a cosponsor of the For the People Act, which would strengthen transparency in the U.S. political system and help limit the oversized power of special interests and undisclosed donors in U.S. elections. The legislation includes an amendment Spanberger introduced and led to prevent foreign interference in the U.S. electoral system.
In recognition for her work to limit the power of special interests in Washington, Spanberger was recently given an “A” rating on End Citizens United Action Fund’s 2019 legislative scorecard. Announced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Citizens United decision, the scorecard tracks Members’ support for federal legislation that would help end the outsized dominance of special interest money in U.S. politics and restore ethics throughout the federal government.
“The Citizens United decision overturned a century of established legal precedent, and it ultimately made a broken system worse. The decision was a disastrous moment for the transparency of our country’s campaign finance system, and over the past decade, we’ve watched as massive amounts of undisclosed donations have poured into our political system to advance the agendas of special interests—not the agenda of the American people,” said Spanberger. “Central Virginians want their elected officials to pass policies that can actually expand opportunity and improve their financial security, and that’s why I’m proud to be a part of the fight to restore accountability and integrity to our federal government. Inaction is not an option—and Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate need to begin the process of fixing our broken system by taking a vote on the For the People Act, especially as we continue to see an explosion of outside money enter into the 2020 elections and beyond. If we truly want to make progress on critical issues ranging from high prescription drug costs to the safety of our children at school, we need to take steps to amplify the voices of our neighbors and our communities.”
“Congresswoman Spanberger knows that if we want to make progress on so many issues important to Virginians, from lowering the cost of prescription drugs to ensuring access to affordable health care, we must end the dominance of special interest money in politics and give everyday people a bigger voice in our elections,” said Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United Action Fund. “She has been a champion in the fight to end corruption in Washington and we’re proud to give her an ‘A’ on our 2019 legislative scorecard.”
Citizens United v. FEC invalidated the ban on corporate and union independent expenditures. By arguing that corporations are people, the Supreme Court effectively gave wealthy donors and special interest organizations the unlimited ability to influence elections.
In June 2019, Spanberger helped lead an effort calling on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a debate and a vote on the For the People Act.
Prior to the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) last year, Spanberger spoke at a press conference and focused on the need to strengthen transparency and integrity across the U.S. political system. During the House Democratic Caucus weekly press conference, she called on her colleagues to take swift action to limit the influence of special interests in the democratic process, restore the faith that the American people have in our government, and pass H.R. 1. Click here to watch the full press conference.
Specifically, H.R. 1 would help end the reign of special interest money in American politics by:
- Upgrading online political ad disclosure and strengthening large donor disclosure rules;
- Cutting off the flow of foreign money into our elections;
- Committing to overturning Citizens United; and
- Demanding the special interests who broke the political system bear a significant cost of fixing it.
H.R. 1 would also expand access to the ballot box and enhance federal support for voting system security to protect future U.S. elections by:
- Promoting automatic, online, and same-day voter registration;
- Expanding early and absentee voting;
- Recruiting and training more poll workers;
- Supporting adoption of paper ballot systems to bolster election security;
- Protecting voting systems against cyberattacks; and
- Requiring independent redistricting commissions to help combat partisan gerrymandering.
Additionally, the Spanberger-backed legislation would encourage accountability among elected officials by:
- Tightening rules on lobbyists and foreign agents;
- Slowing the special interest revolving door between Capitol Hill and corporate lobbyists;
- Reforming the Office of Government Ethics; and
- Prohibiting Members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards or using public dollars to settle harassment lawsuits.
In March 2019, Spanberger also spoke on the floor of the U.S. House in support of the bipartisan amendment to H.R. 1 she cosponsored to strengthen the integrity of U.S. elections and prevent undisclosed foreign influence in the political system. The bipartisan amendment would require the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to conduct an audit on foreign campaign contributions in U.S. elections. Additionally, it would require the FEC to report these findings to Congress. Click here to watch her full speech.