May 21, 2017 / Election 2016

Billings Gazette: Montana’s Tester fights dark money with SUN

By: Tiffany Muller

Over the past several weeks, thousands of Montanans have reached out to thank Sen. Jon Tester. You don’t hear of a senator getting thanked very often, especially considering Congress’ sky high unpopularity.

Of course, most other senators aren’t Jon Tester. A third-generation dirt farmer known for his trademark flattop haircut, Tester is standing up to the special interests and fighting to clean up the mess in Washington. So, it makes sense then that 4,500 Montanans joined together to thank Tester after he introduced his latest campaign finance reform package.

The influence of money in politics has hit unprecedented levels since the 2010 Citizens United ruling. The case established that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to political spending, suddenly giving them the ability to single-handedly bankroll politicians and, in effect, buy power and influence.

“Dark Money” groups are even worse. They keep the identities of their mega-donors secret from the public — allowing them to run some of the most deceptive, misleading and negative ads without any accountability. With politicians in the pockets of these special interests the voices of middle-class families are simply drowned out.

Since the Citizens United decision, perhaps no where has Big Money’s influence become more apparent than in Big Sky Country. Before the ruling, $3.5 million in outside money was spent in the 2006 Senate race — a number that ballooned to a whopping $25 million in 2012 after Citizens United.

Unlike many members of Congress who are happy to keep this rigged system in place, Tester has fought to end the corrosive influence money has on our democracy. He has the integrity and courage to stand up against those trying to corrupt the system. He fights for all Montanans.

Tester’s latest efforts include the SUN (Sunlight for Unaccountable Non-Profits) Act, which would require Dark Money groups to disclose the identity of their mega-donors; the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act which would require Senate candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically, thus saving taxpayers’ money and increasing transparency to the public; and a constitutional amendment that strikes at the heart of Big Money by declaring that corporations are not people — something that is apparently obvious to everyone but Congress.

While other senators are knee-deep in the Washington swamp, Montanans know to find Tester on his farm. Tester’s never gone Washington, and because of that he’s never been afraid to stand up to the special interest groups trying to buy our elections. Montanans don’t want their democracy sold to the highest bidder, and they can count on Tester to fight for them. That’s why End Citizens United, a grassroots community with 14,000 members in Montana has endorsed Jon Tester for re-election. We will proudly stand with him as he stands with hard-working families and continues to fight to fix our broken campaign system.

Tiffany Muller is president and executive director of End Citizens United, a nationwide campaign finance reform organization.

Click here to read the full article at The Billings Gazette.

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