End Citizens United (ECU) today announced it will target Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-06) as part of its new Big Money 20 campaign – a $35 million effort focused on defeating the worst of Washington’s rigged system by educating voters on how their representatives, like Roskam, prioritize the needs of special interests that fund their campaigns over the needs of their constituents.
“Congressman Roskam represents a rigged system that puts mega-donors and the special interests above Illinois families,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “Donald Trump was elected on a promise to drain the swamp, but things are only getting worse in Washington. Peter Roskam is one of the worst offenders and we will hold him accountable. We’re mobilizing our more than three million grassroots members to throw these politicians out of office and elect reformers who will focus on all of us, not just those who write the biggest checks.”
The Big Money 20 is the first concerted effort to reclaim independent and unaffiliated voters who voted for President Trump, but still heavily favor candidates who want to reform the rigged political system. The members of the Big Money 20 are incumbents who do the bidding of special interests like drug companies, Big Oil, Wall Street, and others with deep pockets while also voting to keep the rigged system in place.
For example, Roskam didn’t just benefit from the rigged system, he also sought to keep it firmly in place by sponsoring a bill that protected his mega-donors and their political secret money non-profits. The bill would prohibit the IRS from requiring tax-exempt organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce from identifying contributors in annual tax returns. The bill was widely criticized for providing another loophole for foreign governments and organizations to spend in U.S. elections. Two of the biggest cheerleaders of the bill were the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce, who combined spent over $393,000 in campaign contributions and outside spending supporting Roskam.
Here are a few examples of how the actions of the Big Money 20 have hurt their constituents, and millions of others across the country:
The Big Money 20 benefited from $11.7 million from special interest groups pushing tax reform that will raise taxes on the middle class and disproportionately benefit millionaires. Seventeen members of the Big Money 20 voted for the bill which would have most taxpayers earning less than $75,000 be worse off by 2027, while half of the benefits would go to the top five percent in the country.
After filling their coffers with over $2 million from the telecom industry, 18 members of the Big Money 20 voted in March for a resolution – S.J. Res. 34 – that allowed major internet companies to sell customer data without their consent.
Over their careers, the Big Money 20 received over $13.3 million from Wall Street. In 2017, every member of this group voted for legislation to gut regulations to keep our economy safe and protect consumers from predatory practices. The Big Money 20 members in the Senate supported blocking the CFPB’s rule that prevented credit card companies and financial institutions from sneaking bans on class action lawsuits against them into the fine print of contracts with everyday consumers.
ECU plans to raise and spend $35 million this cycle from grassroots, small-dollar donors to defeat these politicians and elect champions of reform. The Big Money 20 campaign will be targeted at districts where the issue of reform has been proven to motivate and persuade voters, notably independents and unaffiliated voters as well as many white working class voters – many of whom voted for Trump and his populist, anti-establishment message of reforming the way business is done in Washington.
Over the past two years, ECU has conducted extensive polling and research showing that independent and unaffiliated voters rank getting money out of politics as a high priority, ahead of or equal to jobs and health care, and that two out of three voters believe the amount of money in politics affects “kitchen table” issues. The group has also seen widespread support for increasing transparency and accountability in the system including limits on what special interests like drug companies, the healthcare industry and Wall Street can spend to influence politicians.
Founded in 2015, ECU is a traditional political action committee (PAC) with more than three million members, including 294,000 in Nevada. Funded by small-dollar, grassroots donors who give an average contribution of just $14, ECU raised $25 million last cycle and helped elect 65 members of Congress, including three new U.S. Senators and 16 new U.S. Representatives. The group is dedicated to ending the corrosive influence of Big Money in politics and fixing our rigged political system by electing campaign finance reform champions, passing state ballot measures, and elevating the issue in the national conversation.
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