Big Money 20 members are the worst of Washington’s pay-to-play system
Allred is rejecting corporate PAC money in his campaign
End Citizens United today named Representative Pete Sessions of TX-32 as the latest member of its Big Money 20, a list of the group’s top targets in 2018 who represent the worst of Washington’s rigged system. End Citizens United will educate voters on these politicians who put the needs of the special interests that fund their campaigns over the needs of their constituents.
The addition of Sessions to the Big Money 20 coincides with End Citizens United’s endorsement of Colin Allred for the 32nd congressional district. Colin, a civil rights attorney who previously worked under HUD Secretary Julian Castro, is rejecting corporate PAC in his campaign for Congress.
“Congressman Pete Sessions has been rigging the system for his big donors and special interest backers for years, and Texas families are paying the price. This fall, ECU will hold him accountable,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “In the next six months, we’ll be mobilizing our more than three million grassroots members, including 3,500 in Texas’ 32nd district, to throw out crooked politicians and help elect reformers like Colin Allred to Congress.Texans deserve leaders who focus on the people they represent, not only their campaign donors.”
“Individual voters should be the only ones influencing the outcomes of our elections. Unlimited corporate money dilutes the strength of our voice and hurts our democracy. While special interests will pour money into the campaign coffers of my opponent, I remain committed to fair and honest elections that are decided by the people and not the corporations wanting to dilute our votes,” said Colin Allred
The members of the Big Money 20 are incumbents who do the bidding of special interests like drug companies, Wall Street, and others with deep pockets while also voting to protect the rigged system. Sessions was added to the list following the retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan, and five other members of the Big Money 20. The full Big Money 20 list can be found here.
During his 20 years in Congress, Sessions has earned a reputation for doing favors for his big donors. Most notable, Sessions made headlines for helping billionaire R. Allen Stanford who was convicted for running a $7 billion international Ponzi scheme. In one particular egregious case, Sessions sent a letter to Venezuelan regulators to help Stanford secure a bank charter. Stanford went on to raise thousands for Sessions’ 2004 campaign. In 2006, as Sessions was campaigning to become the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he again sought the help of Stanford and cited past favors in his request. Stanford donated $28,500 on Sessions’ behalf and helped him secure the role of Chairman in 2008.
The next year, the FBI raided Stanford’s office and he was eventually convicted of the running the second-largest scam in modern financial history. Hours after the raid, Sessions, who had received over $41,000 from Stanford and his employees, emailed his favorite mega-donor: “I love you and still believe in you. Let me know if you need my ear.”
Among Session’s other shady dealings, he has pushed bills that would protect his major donors and former employers in the telecom industry and steered $1.6 million in earmarks to another donor despite his company having no experience relevant to the earmark.
Sessions did more than take advantage of the rigged system, he also voted to protect it. During his career, he voted against the DISCLOSE Act, voted against a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, supported legislation that would roll back the Johnson Amendment, and supported gutting the office of Congressional Ethics.
This cycle, ECU has directly raised over $4.5 for its endorsed candidates and is expected to spend $35 million to help elect reformers to Congress. Since Big Money 20 launched in December, ECU has conducted polling in key battleground districts, raised nearly $300,000 directly for its endorsed candidates in the Big Money 20 targeted races, spent $300,000 on issues ads in Nevada, MN-3 and CO-06, and launched a digital advertising and direct mail program in partnership with EMILY’s List in CA-45.
Over the past two years, ECU has conducted extensive polling and research showing that getting Big Money out of politics is a key issue for voters. In fact, independent and unaffiliated voters consistently rank it a high priority, ahead of or equal to jobs and health care.Two out of three voters believe the amount of money in politics affects “kitchen table” issues.
End Citizens United is dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics. The group is working to elect members of Congress who will fight to overturn Citizens United and pass meaningful reforms. Established in 2015, End Citizens United has over three million members and is entirely grassroots-funded, with an average donation of just $14.