Adam Schiff is the congressman from my district. When I first met him, he was a state senator and the district was red. In 2000, in what was then the most expensive congressional race in history, he beat the incumbent Republican, James Rogan, who had been an impeachment manager in the unsuccessful Clinton impeachment trial. Since then, the district has been redrawn several times and has become bluer and bluer. Schiff has as well. His voting record has been far more progressive in recent years than it was when he was first elected. As far as I can tell, he’s been responsive to a constituency that has gradually evolved from conservative to progressive. As you’ve heard, he’s now running for the Senate seat that Dianne Feinstein will be relinquishing next year. I asked him to write a guest post about the constitutional amendment he recently re-introduced, an amendment that would profoundly change the tenor of American politics. One of his former colleagues, Tom Suozzi, who represented another district I once lived in, is very enthusiastic about Schiff's amendment. "Getting dark money out of the American political system," he told me this morning, "addresses one of the root causes of government dysfunction. Russ Feingold and John McCain tackled this through bipartisan legislation, which was thrown out by a misguided Supreme Court. Adam understands how to go right to the American people to override the Court."
Erica Payne, President and founder of the Patriotic Millionaires, is also enthusiastic about Schiff’s amendment. This morning, she told me that “"Citizens United has been a disaster for American democracy. Since the Supreme Court decision in 2010 opened the floodgates for enormous amounts of money to flow into our political system, we've seen billions of dollars spent to rig American elections and undermine the will of the American people. This is a fight for the soul of America. If dollars determine elections, then democracy is only accessible to an elite few. At that point, if democracy is only available for some, then it’s not a democracy at all. If we want to reclaim our democracy, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It's extremely hard to pass a constitutional amendment in our modern political landscape, but we've got to find a way to do it. If saving our very democracy isn't worth fighting for, then what is?"
Getting Money Out Of Politics-- Overcoming The Citizens United Dilemma
-by Adam Schiff
The flow of unrestricted corporate and dark money into our elections poses an existential threat to the health of our democracy. The current partisan and reactionary Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to billions of dollars in unrestricted spending in elections, and undermined the American people’s faith in our democracy.
The 2022 midterm cycle saw the country’s 100 largest donors collectively spending 60 percent more than every small donor in the United States— combined. Super PAC spending alone culminated in an egregious $1.3 billion, in addition to dark money expenditures pouring in through nonprofit entities that aren’t required to disclose the identities of their donors.
The Supreme Court’s repeated rulings against critical campaign spending restrictions have prevented meaningful regulation of campaign expenditures by special interest groups. And without regulation, wealthy megadonors, corporations, and special interest groups will continue to exploit loopholes to pour massive amounts of money into influencing the political process.
Americans are right to ask whether this money inhibits the government’s ability to deliver for American families, and whether politicians are listening to their wealthy donors more than ordinary citizens.
That’s why I’ve recently introduced the landmark Democracy for All Amendment.
My amendment, which I introduced alongside Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Jim McGovern (D-MA), already has the support of more than 90 of my Democratic colleagues. It would rein in wealthy corporations’ influence on our elections by overturning precedents that have allowed unrestrained campaign spending and dark money to corrupt American democracy. It would also ensure states and localities are able to enact systems of public campaign financing, which are desperately needed.
I have felt the importance of campaign finance reform firsthand. My race in 2000, which ultimately brought me to Congress, was the most expensive in the history of the House of Representatives at the time. And the first bill I introduced as a newly elected member was the House version of the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Act to eliminate the soft money loophole that allowed unlimited funding of so-called “issue ads”, which were thinly disguised efforts to support or oppose candidates— and contribution limits to those same candidates.
In response to the 2012 election cycle, which saw more than $300 million in dark money expenditures, I first introduced my constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in 2013. I have reintroduced my amendment every Congress since, and will continue to fight special interests who seek to drown out the voices of American voters.
Because power must be returned to the people.