Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a landmark case with long-term, controversial implications. The conservative group, Citizens United, sued the FEC for its decision to restrict the airing of an hour-long ad opposing then-candidate Hilary Clinton. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned a lower federal court’s ruling granting free speech for corporations.
— End Citizens United (@StopBigMoney) May 8, 2018
Corporations were now free to spend as much as they liked on elections through what is known as “Dark Money,” that is, money that cannot be traced back to the donor and is not legally obligated to disclose the source of their funding. Immediately afterward, the number of negative ads skyrocketed now that donors no longer needed to take direct responsibility for financing them.
While conservative groups pushed to further deregulate campaign finance, public polls show the majority of both Republicans and Democrats oppose Citizens United. A number of Democratic activist groups have stepped up to oppose it, including the nonprofit political action committee End Citizens United.
End Citizens United was recently founded in 2015 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. Under its president Tiffany Muller, the PAC has quickly grown into a major player, raising $25 million during the 2016 elections. Their objective is to bring campaign finance reform through grassroots fundraising. ECU collects massive amounts of small donations through digital platforms. This also serves to build up a contact list of willing supporters. ECU can offer an alternative source of campaign funding for candidates who are willing to swear off corporate cash.
The ultimate goal of End Citizens United is to pass a constitutional amendment that defines free speech as a right for citizens, not corporations, but amendments and Supreme Court decisions are difficult to obtain. For this reason, ECU is wisely working its way up from the state level, endorsing like-minded candidates and state ballot measures who will limit the influence of corporate money.
Looking forward, ECU has set a goal of raising and spending $35 million on this year’s elections. They have endorsed over 130 candidates from around the country, and they have a list, dubbed the “Big Money 20,” a group of Republicans who have actively favored the special interests, they are working to unseat. With groups like End Citizens United leading the way, there has never been a better chance of bringing campaign finance reform to reality.
Read More: endcitizensunited.org/our-team/