August 2, 2012

‘Persistence Matters, Public Engagement Matters’: House Democrats Dare To Reform Campaign Finance System

Yesterday, House Democrats held a press conference outside of the capitol building along with Public Campaign, a campaign finance reform group. Their goal was to issue a D.A.R.E to Congressional Republicans encouraging them to act on campaign finance reform.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. James Clyburn, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen all joined Public Campaign in calling for a constitutional amendment overturning the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United.

D.A.R.E is intended to highlight key areas that need to be addressed when trying to ameliorate the U.S. campaign finance system: disclosing donors, amending the constitution, reforming campaign finance law, and electing representatives that agree with reforming a broken system.

All attendees agreed: it is necessary for the public to put pressure on Congress to overturn Citizens United. “Just because you didn’t win the first time doesn’t mean you can’t win down the road,” Chris Van Hollen argued referencing the Supreme Court case, “persistence matters, public engagement matters”.

Nick Nyhart, president of Public Campaign, was there to represent his group alongside many other campaign finance reform allies, including Americans for Campaign Finance Reform and the Brennan Center for Justice. “Americans want a political system of, by and for the many, not of, by and for the money,” Nyhart said. “Politicians should be accountable solely to their constituents, the people who elect them, and not to the handful of people who can write them absolutely gargantuan checks.”

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C) spoke about the importance of overturning Citizens United and the necessity to protect voters during a political environment that he argues is one of the most pressing in his lifetime.

Other congressional members joining the press conference included House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Larson (CT), Reps. Adam Schiff (CA) and James McGovern (MA), who have both introduced constitutional amendments, Rep. John Sarbenes (MD) who is working on small-donor public financing legislation, and Rep. David Cicilline (RI).