Citizens United: Can It Truly Drive Big Money Out Of Politics?

In 208, A lawyer by the name of James Bopp, had a client by the name of Citizen’s United. Citizens United attempted to make a case for airing a movie about Hillary Clinton on demand TV during the 2008 Presidential Primaries. The Federal Election Commission told Citizens United and Mr. Bopp that it could not air or advertise the film during Primary season because it was a 90 minute political spot with no listed sponsor. Mr. Bopp tried to push the point that the movie wasn’t very different from 60 minutes. Sitting Judge Royce Lamberth answered “no” and finalized his ruling.

Two years later, the Supreme Court reversed Lamberth’s ruling, ignoring historic campaign reform precedents by using a 1976 decision stating campaign spending was a form of speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Citizens United was deemed to be the culmination of years of Bopp work to chip away at campaign finance regulations. James Bopp continues to attempt to dismantle all aspects of campaign finance regulation.

Enter End Citizens United, a political committee whose goal is to dismantle big money in politics, and force it out completely. They are attracting quite a bit of funding to continue their work. As of April 7, 2017, they had raised $4 million, and according to the group, they are on track to bringing in $35 million ahead of the 2018 mid term elections according to statistics provided to USA Today. This is exceptional compared to the $25 million the organization took in for the 2016 election, being the first election cycle in operation. The PAC’s president, Tiffany Muller, says one of their goals is to elect campaign finance reform champions to congress.

The groups name, End Citizens United, is in response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that allows union and corporate donations in unlimited amounts to elect their candidates. End Citizens United is a traditional PAC and cannot accept donations larger than $5000 from any one donor. And in spite of that donation cap, their 2016 fundraising brought in an amount that was more than enough to run with other Democratic groups and their spending last year.

To reflect the power End Citizens United has, the groups spokesman Adam Bozzi, said the group has developed strong ties to campaign finance groups. The organization collaborated with two dozen groups that were successful in urging Republican senators who received campaign donations from Betsy Devos to recuse themselves from voting on her nomination as Education secretary. Although she received a 50/50 vote to confirm her post, with VP Pence breaking the tie, End Citizens United is still on track to make campaign finance reform a primary focus for future campaigns.