‘Our Voices, Our Democracy’ Report Frames 2016 as Year of Action to Deal with Outrage Concerning Money in Politics; Showing Support for Removing Corporate Dark Money from Politics, Public Campaign Financing, a Constitutional Amendment and More

Feb. 8, 2016

‘Our Voices, Our Democracy’ Report Frames 2016 as Year of Action to Deal with Outrage Concerning Money in Politics; Showing Support for Removing Corporate Dark Money from Politics, Public Campaign Financing, a Constitutional Amendment and More

Anger Expressed by Voters in Presidential Year Is Fueling Movement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Momentum is building to empower voters over wealthy interests, and 2016 will be a critical year for forging a more robust democracy, concludes a new report from Public Citizen and six other organizations.

The report (PDF), “Our Voices, Our Democracy,” lays out this year’s efforts to remove dark money from politics. It also documents a national movement as it gains steady momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision fundamentally altered America’s elections.

The unique joint report, produced by Public Citizen, Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy, Demos, Every Voice, People for the American Way and U.S. PIRG, outlines a strong, coordinated plan that will make 2016 a critical year for ensuring a government truly of, by and for the people. It shows where the movement has been – summarizing the range of nationwide victories building momentum for change – and where it’s going.

“Our report shows that unregulated outside groups along with dark money are wreaking havoc on our system of campaigns and elections,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division. “This is not solely a Republican, Independent or Democratic problem, but instead is a reflection that unfettered donations have set off an arms race from which American democracy will struggle to recover. But as many states and towns are showing, the fight to return power to voters is well underway.”

Public Citizen will bring a broad coalition of organizations representing the labor, peace, environmental, student, racial justice, civil rights and money in politics reform movements to Washington, D.C. on April 16-18, 2016, for the “Democracy Awakening” march and rally. The three day event will take place simultaneously with dozens of rallies in states. The assembled groups share a firm belief that Americans cannot win on the full range of policy issues we all care about until we combat attacks by big money on voting rights and the integrity of the vote.

According to the report:

  • More than 200,000 Americans have called on the presidential candidates to get serious about fighting big money in elections. For the first time ever, every Democratic candidate for president has publicly embraced a comprehensive plan to fight big money and many Republicans are embracing solutions of their own.
  • More than five million people have signed petitions urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Moreover, 16 states, the District of Columbia, more than 680 cities and towns, and a majority of the U.S. Senate in 2014 have called for an amendment.
  • At least 23 states have enacted new disclosure rules since 2010 to ensure the public’s right to know the big donors trying to influence our elections.
  • States and cities have acted to pass, defend and strengthen citizen funded election systems that amplify the voices of small donors, including in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland’s Montgomery County, Seattle and Tallahassee.

“Looking at the year ahead, opportunities to reduce the influence of big money in elections are everywhere – in local towns and communities, in city halls and state legislatures, and in the White House and in Congress,” the report says.

Throughout the country there will be more ballot initiatives in 2016 to rebalance the system so it works for voters than in any previous election cycle. According to media reports, President Barack Obama is “seriously considering” signing an executive order to disclose political spending by federal contractors. Obama has received more than one million petition signatures in support of an executive order.

The organizations that authored the report conclude, “The debate about the problem of money in politics is over. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when and how’ we will reform our democracy. The movement for commonsense, winnable solutions is paving the way forward—to a government truly of, by, and for the people.”

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