Olympia Snowe (R-ME) cites “Rolling Back Citizens United” as Essential to Campaign Finance Reform, In New Book

In her new book Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress Olympia Snowe (R-ME) writes, "Campaign finance reform, including rolling back Citizens United is essential to leveling the electoral playing field." Other key quotes include:

The Citizens United decision has upended the financing of campaigns — creating even greater imbalance and triggering unbridled, undisclosed spending….[technical discussion of previous restrictions] After Citizens United, those limitations and disclosure requirements disappeared for so-called electioneering advertising and independent expenditures, unleashing a torrent of millions of dollars in basically unrestricted campaign activity. [p. 258]

It’s one thing to have a vigorous exchange of ideas. But when a select few individuals and organizations "own the microphone," the average citizen’s voice is effectively drowned out by a cacophony of high-priced media blitzes. This imbalance is compounded by the exploding phenomenon of "outside" organizations that pour extraordinary financial resources into a state to influence an election not based on the interests of that state, but on the parochial, political objectives of that group. Oftentimes, outside groups spend more on campaigns than the candidates themselves, and that’s not right. [pp.258-259]

…I was especially troubled by the Supreme Court’s puzzling Citizens United decision. For the past century, Congress had recognized the pernicious effect of undue corporate and labor union spending on political campaigns. The Supreme Court even recently has held that the nation had a compelling interest in ensuring that corporations do not corrupt the political process by exerting undue influence. In In a majority opinion in 1990, Justice Thurgood Marshall characterized "the corrosive and distorting effect of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas." [pp.259-260]

Yet in the Citizens United decision, the court abruptly abandoned a century of precedent and overturned the Snowe-Jeffords restrictions in BCRA. In so doing, the Court undermined existing law and further distorted the national political debate by giving corporations and unions unrestricted power to flood the airwaves with campaign ads with essentially no restriction. At the time, I characterized the decision as "a serious disservice to our country." [p.260]

It is essential that Congress revisit the issue of campaign finance reform to counter the massive amounts of third-party advertising that are disproportionately and too often anonymously influencing our elections and fueling the fires of partisan discourse. It must explore and examine new means of achieving this end that will protect First Amendment rights to free speech while preserving the integrity of campaigns and elections. There have been recent proposals in Congress to address the overall issue — but the whole point of how we arrived at the Snowe-Jeffords measure and the McCain-Feingold legislation was to provide a level playing field for both parties, and if attempts are made that are unbalanced and don’t incorporate input from both sides from the beginning, they won’t be politically feasible…. [p.260]  

The trans-partisan support against Citizens United is ever growing! See our report of more than a hundred other Republican officials whom have expressed their dissent of Citizens United here.

 

 

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