Ahead of 10 Year Anniversary of Citizens United Decision, Shaheen Discusses Impact of Ruling on American Democracy

January 16, 2020

**Shaheen highlights the on-going dark money effort to derail reforms to address surprise medical billing, calling the campaign “Exhibit A in how broken our campaign finance system is”** 

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) hosted a press call with Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) and public advocacy groups to discuss the continuing harm to the political landscape caused by the 10-year-old Citizens United v. FEC ruling. During the press call, the participants also discussed potential reforms, including a proposed Constitutional Amendment introduced by Shaheen and Udall, the Democracy for All Amendment, which would overturn Citizens United, help get big money out of politics, and put power back in the hands of the American people. People For the American Way, Public Citizen, End Citizens United Action Fund, Democracy 21, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, US PIRG, and Common Cause were some of the organizations who participated in the call. 

Audio of the call can be heard here. 

Shaheen began her remarks on the call by thanking the participants for their work and referencing a recent example of dark money’s influence in politics, “Last summer across the country, ads started running in states with contested Senate races, and these ads raised questions about surprise medical billing… Turns out, the funding behind the ads weren’t concerned about patients at all. What they were concerned about were the bottom lines of two private equity companies that had invested in doctors’ practices that specialized in surprise medical billing.” Shaheen mentioned how these firms had spent over $50 million in ads, including in New Hampshire, to mislead Americans and derail Congressional action on surprise medical billing. “I think this dishonest campaign behind surprise medical billing is exhibit A in how broken our campaign finance system is.” 

Shaheen continued, “Corporations are not people. They should not be granted special rights to hijack our democracy. The legislation we are all supporting would overturn Citizens United, it would get big money out of politics, it would ensure our elected representatives reflect the will of the public and not corporations. Senator McConnell needs to stop obstructing – allow those bills to come to the floor so we can give power back to the people.” 

Citizens United unleashed a flood of unlimited corporate spending in U.S. elections and opened the door for wealthy special interests to have an outsized voice in the government. The decision wrongfully equated money with free speech, and wrongfully determined that big, wealthy corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people. The Democracy for All Amendment would give power back to Congress and the states to set reasonable campaign finance rules and limit corporate spending in elections. The amendment would enshrine in the Constitution the right of the American people to regulate the raising and spending of funds in public elections, and curb the concentration of political influence held by the wealthiest Americans.  

Shaheen has long supported Congressional action to crack down on dark money in politics. Last April, Shaheen joined her colleagues to reintroduce the DISCLOSE Act, legislation that would require organizations spending money in federal elections to disclose their donors and help guard against hidden foreign influence in our democracy.