SHAHEEN: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM NEEDEDJanuary 26, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke today on the Senate floor about the need for campaign finance reform to limit the influence of corporate money in the election process.
Shaheen’s speech comes a few days after the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Committee.
Below are Senator Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the importance of preserving our representative democracy by restoring common sense restrictions to our nation’s campaign finance system.
Saturday was the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Committee. Already that decision has altered the landscape of politics in this country.
When the Supreme Court struck down limits on corporate financing of elections, it ushered in the age of the “Super PAC”. These so-called Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money during political campaigns, with limited disclosure obligations.
Mr. President, the floodgates have opened. SuperPACs have already spent over $30 million in the 2012 cycle and the election is still ten months away. That amount of money is staggering.
I witnessed the sad impact of this new influx of corporate cash when I was home in New Hampshire for the recent presidential primary. Negative ad, after negative ad, after negative ad; polluting our airwaves, disaffecting our voters, and drowning out the voices of our people. It has to stop.
This is not a partisan issue. The common-sense restrictions struck down in Citizens United were part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, otherwise known as the McCain-Feingold Act. My colleague from Arizona’s thoughtful legislation that limited soft money and corporate funding of political ads made sense.
Our campaign finance system has gotten far off course, and we must put it back on track. The unchecked influence of money in our elections compromises the future of our representative democracy.
Because, while corporations have many rights, they are not people.
None of us was elected by corporations. It’s not corporations who need our help being heard.
It’s home-owners struggling to pay their mortgages, parents trying to figure out how to send their children to college, unemployed workers looking for jobs, hoping tomorrow will be better than today. And those voices are being drowned in a sea of corporate cash.
I urge all of my colleagues to turn their attention to this important work, to reach across the aisle to build consensus on this issue. Let us all tell the American people that we hear their voices calling for change.
I look forward to speaking with all of you in the coming weeks and months about specific approaches we can take to repair our broken campaign finance system.
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