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Anniversary of "Citizens United" Prompts Protest Events Across U.S.

PHOTO: People and organizations around the United States 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 United States 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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - 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 ruling removed limits on the amount of money an independent organization can spend on political campaigns.

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

"We need everyone in New Mexico to speak out loudly and clearly to their members of Congress, to people in the Statehouse, to say that, 'enough is enough,' " he said. "They're sick and tired of the undue influence of corporate money - money from deep-pocketed special interests and lobbyists in our politics."

Spaulding said 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.

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

"And we're well over $500 million," he said, "money that is untraceable, that has been dumped into our elections, that otherwise likely would not have been spent - but for Citizens United."

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

The Common Cause report is online at commoncause.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM