April 4, 2017
WASHINGTON — End Citizens United, a political action committee focused on driving big money out of politics, is raising some big money of its own.
The group collected more than $4 million during the first three months of this year and projects it will raise $35 million ahead of the 2018 midterm elections for Congress, according to fundraising details provided first to USA TODAY. That would be a significant surge from the $25 million the PAC took in for the 2016 election, its first election cycle in operation.
About 100,000 people contributed to the PAC during the first quarter of this year, 40,000 of whom gave for the first time, said Tiffany Muller, the PAC’s president and executive director. The group’s leaders say their goal is to elect “campaign-finance reform champions” to Congress.
Muller said the average contribution the PAC received this year hit $12. The group’s donors “feel like the system is rigged against them, where those who can write the biggest checks get the biggest say,” she said. “This is their way of fighting back.”
Adding to the momentum: Democrats are “furious” about President Trump’s win and “ready to fight back” against his agenda and his nominees, including his Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Muller said.
In recent weeks, the political action committee has helped urge its contributors to donate $500,000 to the congressional campaign of Democrat Jon Ossoff, a first-time political candidate in Georgia. Ossoff, 30, has surprised the political establishment by raising more than $4 million for the April 18 special election to fill a Republican House seat in suburban Atlanta left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Muller, a former deputy political director of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said the group is still examining the races in which it will be active in 2018, but indicated it could play a role in defending Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana next year.
The group’s name refers to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the door to union and corporate donations in candidate elections and helped launch super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts.
End Citizens United operates as a traditional PAC and cannot accept donations larger than $5,000 from an individual donor. Despite that donation cap, its fundraising in 2016 helped vault it to the top ranks of Democratic-aligned groups spending in elections last year.