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"Citizens United" Anniversary Prompts Events Around Nation

PHOTO: People and organizations around the U.S. are planning events today, to mark the fifth anniversary of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that increased some political campaign donation limits. Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.
PHOTO: People and organizations around the U.S. are planning events today, to mark the fifth anniversary of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that increased some political campaign donation limits. Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.
January 21, 2015

PHOENIX - Protest events are planned around the nation today to mark the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision removed limits on the amount of money an independent organization can spend on political campaigns.

The result, says Stephen Spaulding, policy counsel with the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, is that millionaires and billionaires have greater influence over elections at every level of government.

"We need people in Arizona to be sure they speak out," he says. "Loudly and clearly to their representatives in the Statehouse and members of Congress, to tell them they care about the issue of money in politics, that there's far too much dark money that is influencing Arizona politics."

Spaulding says a new report from Common Cause shows donations from secret sources to activist organizations have influenced issues that range from minimum wage and gun control, to climate change and having an open Internet.

He adds, political campaign spending from undisclosed sources topped $170 million in 2014, and was more than $300 million during the 2012 presidential election.

"We're well over $500 million in money that is untraceable," says Spaulding. "Money that has been dumped into our elections, that otherwise likely would not have been spent, but for Citizens United."

Spaulding says the impact of Citizens United could be reduced or even eliminated with tougher disclosure laws for independent campaign spending. He also encourages lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment giving Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign spending and full disclosure of its sources.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ