Senator Tom Udall has written a powerful testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment, SJ Res 19, which he and Senator Bennet introduced last June. This statement serves as a important reminder as to why the need to amend the Constitution, to stop the corrosive practice of wealthy interests dominating our politics, remains the most important issue of our time.
As Udall writes,
Like you Mr. Chairman, I don’t take amending the Constitution lightly. In The Federalist No. 49, James Madison argued that our founding document should be amended only on “great and extraordinary occasions.” I agree, but I also believe we have reached one of those occasions.
The integrity of our elections, and ultimately our governance, depends on a vigorous debate in which American citizens truly have a voice. Unfortunately, our elections no longer focus on the needs and interests of individual voters, but are instead shaped by multi-million dollar ad campaigns funded by special interest groups and billionaires with seemingly limitless resources.
According to a joint study by Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute, outside groups spent $457 million to influence Senate and House races in 2012. In the 2008 election, before Citizens United , groups spent $43.7 million. In 1992, they spent $6.2 million on congressional elections. There is an obvious trend here, and it’s deeply troubling.
We agree that the flood of outside spending in our elections is troubling. We urge the other Senators in the Committee to read and take Senator Udall’s testimony to their core.