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January 30, 2013 - Reformers Urge House Administration Chair to Hold Hearings to Address 2012 Election Abuses & Fixes

The Campaign Legal Center today joined with ten reform groups to urge newly installed House Administration Committee Chair Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) to hold hearings early in the 113th Congress to examine potential legislative solutions to repair the a campaign finance system run amok in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The letter emphasized the broad public support for repairing the damage done to our democratic process by big donors and secret contributions.

Hearings were urged to discuss the myriad abuses of the current system in the 2012 elections that saw an explosion of outside money including hundreds of millions of dollars laundered through shell corporations and opaque tax-exempt organization leaving open the question of whether foreign funds might have been used to influence our elections. Further the letter urged hearings on proposed legislation to expand donor disclosure and bills designed enhance the role of small donors

The full text of the letter follows below. 

Public Campaign * Americans for Campaign Reform * Campaign Legal Center * Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) * Common Cause * Democracy 21 * Democracy Matters * Demos * Public Citizen * Rootstrikers * U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)

The Honorable Candice Miller, Chairwoman
Committee on House Administration
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

January 30, 2013

 

Dear Chairwoman Miller:

As the chair of the Committee on House Administration, we want to congratulate you on your new role and look forward to working with you and your staff.

In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, an estimated $6 billion was spent, with more than $1 billion coming from non‐party outside groups. By some accounts, approximately 31 percent of outside spending was funded by “secret” undisclosed donors.

We are writing to request that you hold hearings early in the 113th Congress on the Citizens United decision to examine potential legislative solutions to a system out of control, including consideration of disclosure reforms. According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll, nearly two‐thirds of 2012 voters (including 71 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Republicans) said that big donors and secret money undermined democracy in this election.

There are a number of questions that your Committee should examine in light of the 2012 elections. These include: Was any of that undisclosed money spent by special interests trying to get favorable treatment for pending legislation before Congress? Did “shell” organizations form just to spend money in elections and then disband immediately afterward to try to hide information from voters? Did foreign corporations that are hostile to U.S. interests spend money trying to influence public policy?

The hearings should also address the proliferation of political spending by ultrawealthy individuals and special interest‐backed super PACs. Nearly 60 percent of super PAC funding came from just 159 donors contributing at least $1 million, according to a Demos‐US PIRG report. In House races, just 0.14 percent of Americans made itemized contributions to congressional candidates. Various proposals (the Grassroots Democracy Act, Fair Elections Now Act, and Empowering Citizens Act) that would enhance the role of small donors should be analyzed to ensure that we have “government of the many, not of the money.”

For our democracy to flourish, we must find new, meaningful ways for average citizens to have a stronger voice in the process, and citizens have a right – and a need – to know who is spending money to influence the outcome of our elections.

Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact Aaron Scherb ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 202‐736‐5726) with any questions, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
 
Nick Nyhart
President and CEO
Public Campaign
 
Meredith McGehee
Policy Director
Campaign Legal Center
 
Lisa Gilbert
Director, Congress Watch
Public Citizen
 
Joan Mandle
Executive Director
Democracy Matters
 
Lawrence Noble
President and CEO
Americans for Campaign Reform
 
Adam Lioz
Counsel
Demos
 
Blair Bowie
Democracy Advocate
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
 
Fred Wertheimer
President
Democracy 21
 
Karen Hobert Flynn
Senior Vice President for Strategy and Programs
Common Cause
 
Lawrence Lessig
Founder
Rootstrikers
 
Melanie Sloan
Executive Director
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

 
cc: Ranking Member Congressman Robert Brady

 

 

 

 
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