At yesterday’s We the People Summit, getting big money out politics took center stage with 2020 presidential candidates underscoring their commitment to reform and the need to unrig the system. So far, all of the Democratic presidential candidates have sworn off corporate PAC money and many of them have disavowed single-candidate super PACs.
Below are some highlights of candidates outlining their support and plans to unrig the system. Click here to watch the forum.
“When you go up the food chain to Congress, you can’t get that information because Congress made itself largely exempt from the Freedom Of Information Act. That means that you can’t actually get a look at the cozy relationships that too often times folks have with these big powerful special interests that are contributing to their campaigns. We need to shine a light on Congress and the executive branch.”
“We have a campaign finance system right now that is corruptive. And since Citizens United especially we are seeing Dark Money flood into our elections. Even the money that candidates raise themselves is a small fraction of the overall billions of dollars that are being poured into elections. That why I took, well before I was running for president, the End Citizens United pledge that wasn’t just about pledging to end Citizens United as a Senator or should I be president, but it was also about my own individual habits. That’s why I’m not only taking corporate money, I’m not taking pharma exec money, I’m not taking corporate federal lobbyist money. We believe you cannot campaign wrong and govern right. To your question, I pledge as President of the United States that not only will I tear down and end that Citizens United decision, but that I am going to set up and fight for a campaign finance system that favors small-dollar contributions that same way I am running my campaign.”
“So one of the things that we have seen this president do is he tries to talk the game, right? But instead, what do we see? …More and more dark money coming into our politics. And I’m someone that thoroughly believes we need to judge someone on their merit. We need to allow people to run no matter where they’re from.”
“So if we want a real democracy, we need to pass aggressive campaign finance reform and get the dark money out of these politics.”
“If we were to remove PAC influence and big money, unaccountable donor influence in our democracy, more members of Congress and candidates would be required to be in rooms like these and to listen to you to gather your support to win or to be reelected.”
“And then I think this idea that corporations are people that money is speech, Citizens United 2010. We weren’t on a good path to begin with in terms of corporate control of our government. And that only solidified and made it much worse following. So I think reversing that decision is incredibly important.”
…“Look every part of this for me is about how money influences what’s going on in Washington. And we talk about campaign finance reform and campaign finance reform is important. But understand, money seeps through this town a lot more than just campaigns. It’s here all the way. It’s here with the lobbyists. It’s here with the lawyers. There’s not a decision that gets made in this town over on Capitol Hill that there’s not somebody in the room watching out for the wealthy and well connected. . . . I believe we have a real opportunity right now in the democratic primary to build from the grassroots up. So, here’s what I’ve done. I take not only no corporate PAC money, I don’t take PAC money of any kind. I just don’t take it. I don’t take any Washington lobbyist money of any kind. And I’m not out sucking up to a bunch of billionaires hoping they’re going to run a super PAC for me. I’m not doing it. And I made the decision that I’m not going to do a bunch of high dollar fundraisers with millionaires and corporate executives. In other words, I’m going to try to run this thing with what we can do with small donations and volunteers.”
“Four years ago, there weren’t many voices out there that were talking about a corrupt political system in which billionaires are able to buy elections, and that maybe we should move to overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections.”
“I do think the better solution is actual publicly funded elections to make it simpler and to . . . have less money in politics than we have today. That’s why I’m not taking corporate PAC money, not taking federal lobbyist money, and not having an individual super PAC.”
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