End Citizens United on how they're raising $35 million for Midterms from $12 average donations
The Supreme Court changed the rules of political campaigning in 2010, opening up a Pandora's box that allowed billionaires, such as the Koch Brothers, to gain power and influence by providing campaign donations. The ruling, often referred to as Citizens United, changed the political playing field in a big way. A relatively new organization called End Citizens United thinks the Supreme Court ruling was bad for the average voter, and all 3 million of its members are ready to take a stand.
End Citizens United, a political action committee started in 2016 is a grassroots effort funded mostly by donors contributing small amounts. The average donation is currently $12, not even enough to fill a tank of gas. Still, they've managed to raise $4 million so far to fight political corruption in the mid-term election. Their goal of $35 million is within reach, says End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller, who also serves as the PAC's executive director. That's $10 million more than what the PAC raised during the 2016 election.
With over 1,800,000 contributions so far it's clear that End Citizens United means business. Their ultimate goal is simple. They want to purge Washington of the politicians who are protecting the rigged system that favors corporations and billionaires but shuts everyone else out.
Muller says their members “feel like the system is rigged against them, where those who can write the biggest checks get the biggest say.” she said.
But the PAC has a plan.
"This election cycle we will elect a wave of reformers who are committed to ending the rigged system in Washington by getting Big Money out of politics," said Muller.
She admits that the Democrats' loss in the presidential election has helped the PAC gain even more traction over the last few months. Angry voters are fighting back in every way they know how, and End Citizens United seems like a sure bet to many. After all, Muller is no stranger to Washington. She's a former deputy political director of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee.
Exactly which politicians will receive End Citizen United's seal of approval (and a generous campaign donation) is mostly yet to be determined. Only one politician is currently listed on the group's website .
End Citizens United is rallying behind Democrat Jon Ossoff. Ossoff is running in a special election to fill Tom Price's seat in Congress. According to Ossoff's website, he leads a company that investigates corrupt politicians and organized crime. It's a perfect fit for End Citizens United.
"His team has taken down human traffickers, exposed dozens of corrupt officials around the world, and uncovered atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq," according to Ending Citizens United website.
Ossoff also worked with the military and the intelligence community to keep the citizens in his home state of Georgia safe as he investigated and brought the bad guys to justice.
"I believe passionately in integrity and transparency in government," said Ossoff. "I will use my real-world experience to root out and expose corruption and fraud in Washington, and introduce legislation to reform campaign finance laws, reduce the toxic and corrupt impact of money in politics and work to overturn Citizens United -- a terrible decision allowing unchecked, anonymous money in politics."
But that's not the end of the PAC's plans. Muller indicated in a recent USA Today article that the PAC might also be defending Senators Sherodd Brown and Jon Tester during the 2018 election.
Brown has fought Citizens United for months, claiming superPACs have degraded the country's democracy by engaging in illegal and corruptive activity. Tester has fought against irresponsible decision-making in Washington his entire career. In fact, it's the platform he ran on in his last race for the Senate. These two senators have made a difference in Washington, and it looks like End Citizens United may be fighting to keep them there.
"We’ll show elected officials, candidates, voters, and the press that the grassroots are fighting back with force against the increasing brazenness of billionaires trying to buy our elections," said a statement on End Citizens United's website. "This will be key to building a broad coalition working towards campaign finance reform and pressuring lawmakers to take action."
Those wanting to contribute to the cause should know that End Citizens United does not accept donations more than $5,000 per individual. The PAC claims to have 40,000 new donors since the 2016 election. The organization's momentum continues to grow.
“Everyday Americans across the country are standing toe to toe against a deluge of special interest money," said Muller. "They’re demonstrating astounding energy at historic levels of participation as they fight to take back our democracy."
Ossoff agrees and appears to be ready to assist when he wrote, "Campaign finance reform is extremely important to my campaign to ensure that democracy is for everyone and not just for the wealthy."
Ending Citizens United plans on taking a multi-pronged approach to electing its selected reformers. The group will run paid ads endorsing their candidates, organize rallies in favor of their candidates, work with the politicians' staffs directly and conduct polling.
End Citizens United hopes that electing politicians with a higher standard of morals will keep corporate interests out of government decisions. Muller pointed to the recent nomination of Betsy DeVos, whose family had contributed to over two dozen groups but did not recuse themselves from voting on her confirmation as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Education.
DeVos stumbled through her hearing, which drew outrage from the educational community. She did not appear to know the difference between growth and proficiency. She also did not take a stand on gun control in the classroom. She showed little to no familiarity with federal laws protecting the disabled. Her tax filings showed that she misrepresented her involvement in her mother's foundation, which gave $5 million to a Christian organization that has fought for a school voucher system that would take millions from public education. She also admitted that "it's possible" her family has contributed more than $200 million to the Republican Party.
The Republicans who benefitted from the DeVos Family contributions helped vote her into office with the help of a tie-breaking vote made by Vice President Mike Pence.
It was former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who said it best: "There is a growing fear that ... we are moving toward what some would call an oligarchic society, where a small number of very wealthy billionaires control, to some degree, our economic and political life."
End Citizens United couldn't agree more, and they've set the stage for an epic battle during the upcoming mid-term elections.
According to End Citizens United's website, "Even though many Republican and Independent voters agree that undisclosed political spending is out of control, Republican leadership in Congress is standing squarely in the way of overturning this disastrous Supreme Court decision. It has to stop."
Fortunately, the sitting president's side of the House generally loses an average of 23 seats during mid-term elections. According to CNN's Chris Cillizza , "If Democrats make gains consistent with that history, they will be right on the edge of re-taking the House; the party needs a 24-seat gain for the majority in 2018."
But he added, "If Trump's candidacy (and victory) proved anything, it's that history is only predictive until it isn't anymore."
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