The American people know that Washington is working for big-money special interests and not for them. They know that the money spent in politics shapes decisions in Washington and affects their own bottom lines.
As groups representing millions of members across the country, we urge you to declare that you oppose single candidate super PACs in the Democratic presidential primary – and will publicly and privately demand that any super PAC designed to support your primary campaign be shut down. This includes asking known donors to such Super PACs to demand their money be returned or donated to candidate-unaffiliated voter registration efforts.
Money in politics has long been a problem, but since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision it has accelerated exponentially. Citizens United opened the door to a flood of special interest spending that is corrupting our democracy and led to the creation of super PACs, which are mainly funded by a handful of mega-donors and dark money groups. They are drowning out the voices of the American people in our elections and influencing policy to their own benefit at the expense of everyone else.
Over the years since the decision, politicians have found ways to exploit loopholes in the law to create single-candidate super PACs. These are super PACs designed to serve as an arm of the campaign. Often, politicians signal to big donors that the super PAC has their support — or take time away from engaging voters and grassroots supporters to directly raise big money for these super PACs. Candidates often send their top political operatives to run these super PACs and even offload certain campaign expenses onto the supportive Super PAC.
Single candidate super PACs fundamentally take power and influence away from everyday people and put it in the hands of a few big-money donors. They are corrupt because they allow candidates to circumvent the strict limits on how much money they can solicit and receive. Even the appearance of corruption shakes the public trust.
Voters want to see candidates stand squarely on the side of everyday people, not the big-money interests who are dumping money into single candidate super PACs.
In 2016, the last presidential election cycle, there were 249 single-candidate super PACs that spent nearly $530 million in federal races across the country. The Washington Post reported that in the Republican primary, “nearly every top presidential hopeful has a personalized super PAC … candidates are finding creative ways to work in concert with them.”
In the 2018 election, voters elected a wave of reformers who made anti-corruption and reform a central issue of their campaign. Many of them refused to accept corporate PAC money in their campaigns – a decision we applaud you for making as well. Democrats took back the House on a promise to put people ahead of special interests.
In 2020, voters across the ideological spectrum will reward candidates who show bold leadership and demonstrate they will do what’s right for the American people, not special interests. Too many Americans opt out of the political process because they think the entire system is corrupt – often saying, “Both parties are funded by the same interests.”
A strong stance in the 2020 Democratic primary against corporate PAC money and against big-money Super PACs will send a larger signal to voters that Democrats stand united as the party of the people and reform.
This is one major step that will help restore trust with voters and prove that when elected, you will put prioritize government and election reforms to give the power in our democracy back to the people.
The coalition of groups behind the letter include:
-End Citizens United
-Progressive Change Campaign Committee
-Democracy for America
-United We Dream
-Working Families Party