By: Tiffany Muller
Last week, End Citizens United, a grassroots group focused on getting big money out of politics, endorsed Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., for U.S. Senate. On behalf of our 28,000 members in Nevada and 3 million across the U.S., our organization was thrilled to make the endorsement.
After all, Nevada stands as a hotbed of campaign finance abuses as billionaire megadonors spend millions on their hand-picked candidates — a sharp contrast to the $14 average contribution from End Citizens United’s grassroots members.
Yet, cronies of big money spoke out about our show of support for Rosen, wrongly accusing End Citizens United and the congresswoman of being anti-free speech.
Gee. That’s pretty bad, huh?
Except End Citizens United isn’t trying to ban free speech. Our goal is simple — so simple it’s quite literally in our name: to end Citizens United, a 2010 Supreme Court decision that unleashed a flood of corporate and special-interest money in our elections. In Nevada alone, outside spending increased by over $87 million since Citizens United. It put politicians up for sale, and the megadonors came flocking in droves.
The result is a broken system that’s rigged in favor of special interests and leaves Nevada families behind. Corporate-backed super PACs, with millions of dollars in their pocket, have bought our airwaves, overwhelming our TVs with attack ads. And in doing so, they have drowned out the voices of real Nevadans.
With outside groups controlling our airwaves, politicians aren’t serving their constituents, they’re serving their megadonors — the ones who all but guarantee their victory in the next election.
Money in politics has infested every aspect of our democracy. When politicians no longer feel responsible to those they are elected to serve, it is the American people who pay for it.
Take the Senate’s recent health care votes as an example. The majority of Nevadans opposed the “skinny repeal” bill. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., even initially opposed the bill that would strip health care from millions. But in a stunning display of just how rigged the system really is, Heller switched his position after public threats from megadonors.
Americans from all political parties agree that we need to lower out-of-control prescription drug costs and fix the student loan crisis. Yet nothing has changed in Washington.
Why? Because too many politicians are in the pockets of special interests. Whether it be Big Pharma or Wall Street, members of Congress pay more attention to those who line their pockets than those who voted for them.
That’s why End Citizens United, alongside reformers like Jacky Rosen, is standing up to special interests. We believe in a level playing field, one that doesn’t give the megarich a leg up. We don’t believe lobbyists and corporations should call the shots. We believe the people should.
Tiffany Muller is president and executive director of End Citizens United, the nation’s largest campaign finance reform group.