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Ten Years After Citizens United, Dark Money Pours into NV Elections

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Friday, January 17, 2020   

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The Supreme Court decision known as "Citizens United" turns ten on Tuesday - a decision that unleashed close to a billion dollars, by some estimates, of so-called "dark money" into American elections.

According to 'OpenSecrets.org,' outside groups that don't have to disclose their donors spent more than $67 million in the 2018 Nevada Senate race, in which Democrat Jacky Rosen defeated Republican Dean Heller. Tiffany Muller, who heads the End Citizens United Action Fund, says the influx of big-donor money has made politicians less responsive to their constituents.

"Citizens United has essentially given wealthy donors and corporations veto power over issues that are important to the American people," says Muller. "Whether that's addressing gun violence, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, or protecting our planet's future."

Democrats have proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, and passed an election-reform bill in the House. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked both proposals in the Senate, saying they amount to a partisan power play by Democrats.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the group Democracy 21, says he supports the House bill - called the "For the People Act" - because it would revolutionize campaign finance by matching donations from small donors.

"As long as Citizens United is the law of the land, political money corruption in Washington is here to stay," says Wertheimer. "And it will only grow unless candidates have a new way to finance their campaigns that allows them to run for office without being dependent on influence-seeking funders."

The group Public Citizen has just published "Oligarch Overload" - a report that says the top 25 donors are responsible for nearly half of all the individual contributions that have gone to super PACs since the Citizens United decision.


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