I am a passionate change maker endeavoring to create a more democratic and fair world. I have significant experience doing research as an edit and research intern at National Geographic, and I am familiar with online community organizing from my time working at Avaaz. I am knowledgeable of money in politics and have a strong interest in social change activism. I am hoping to use my skills and experiences to help advance the collective goals of Rootstrikers.
In phase one, we got FEC Chairwoman Weintraub to agree to hold a hearing on super PAC regulation. Now the stakes are higher, but we're that much closer to getting the hearing the people deserve. Sign and share the petition below.
As our federal budget goes into yet another crisis, the Federal Election Commission must consider how our political process got us here. For nearly 90% of Americans, the answer is obvious. So should it be to the FEC.
Many of us are beginning to realize that campaign finance lies at the root of the problem. Special interests – including businesses, unions, foundations, academic institutions and other nonprofits – directly or indirectly receive money from the government, rather than earn money by selling goods and services in a free market. These special interests lobby for government contracts, programs and other expenditures, and contribute generously to political parties and “independent” political expenditures, to back up their lobbying efforts.
Meanwhile, special interests get special access to key decision makers in return for political expenditures. According to a recent story in the New York Times a $500,000 contribution to one particular “independent” organization is enough to get a meeting with the President of the United States. Meetings with other federal officials presumably come with a lower price tag. The organization, set up by alumni of the President’s reelection campaign, is poised to fundamentally influence Administration policy over the next three and a half years, and is actively soliciting “donations” at the same time.
This “pay to play” problem is not unique to the present Administration. This problem grows as campaign expenditures grow in size and scope, and as all branches of government grow, as well. It is clear to many observers that there has been an enormous increase in the size and cost of government and in the cost of political campaigns over the past few decades. For many of us, this is an explainable correlation, and not a mere coincidence.
During a recent conference at Willamette University FEC Chairwoman Weintraub acknowledged the danger that candidate-specific super PACs pose to our democracy. Chairwoman Weintraub explained that the FEC's bipartisan composition was intended to find compromise. But this is not a partisan issue; both parties are part of this problem just as both parties are to blame for big and expensive government. Both parties have become dependent upon the campaign funding of special interests, many of which in turn thrive at taxpayer expense. “Pay to play” means special interests and politicians play the campaign finance game while the rest of us pay.1,693 signatures
Will the FEC acknowledge this corruption on both sides of the aisle? Will you call for a hearing to discuss candidate-specific super PACs and other abuses?
We hope so. The FEC must act now to address the corruption of our political process that erodes public trust and, among other dangers, is driving our government toward financial ruin.
**Update** March 28, 2013 — FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub agreed to our request, saying "sooner would be better." Please add your signature to our second, bipartisan petition targeting the remaining members of the commission.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen L. Wientraub recently acknowledged the potential corruption of candidate-specific super PACs, but her remarks said nothing of a plan to address this. Please join Rootstrikers in demanding that the FEC hold a public hearing — the first it will have held in almost a year — regarding super PAC regulation.
In 2012 the commission provided much needed clarity on issues such as internet fundraising and texting contributions. Important work still needs to be done to determine:
- Whether a super PAC can use candidate footage, or a candidate can fundraise for a super PAC, and that super PAC still remain independent;
- If the "magic words" cited in Buckley v. Valeo are the only ones subject to regulation as express advocacy;
- Are there any statutory standards to prosecute independent groups who produce ads that are not "coordinated" under FEC regulations;
- Can a super PAC be run by a candidate's past campaign staff or family members?
The FEC's first and only act in 2013 has been to raise contribution limits to $2,600 for individuals and $123,200 in aggregate. Are we to understand that the FEC's priority is to increase spending, not regulate it?1,834 signatures
Will the FEC acknowledge the deeply rooted corruption that grows along both sides of the aisle, and call for a hearing to discuss the regulation of candidate-specific super PACs?