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Public Citizen to National Republican Congressional Committee: Become Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

April 28, 2010

Public Citizen to National Republican Congressional Committee: Become Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

In Trying to Tar Democrats, NRCC Acknowledges That Money Talks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Because it has acknowledged that campaign contributions undermine the integrity of the lawmaking process, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) should return the money it has received from Wall Street interests, end its programs that trade access for campaign contributions and assume a leadership role in reducing the influence of special interest money in politics, Public Citizen told the committee in a letter sent today.

Public Citizen urged the NRCC to return or donate to charity contributions from the financial industry and called on the committee to shut down programs it runs that could be construed as selling access to elected officials. If the NRCC thinks Wall Street contributions corrupt the policymaking process, Public Citizen says, then it logically should return the contributions it has received from Wall Street firms. The letter is available at https://www.citizen.org/nrcc_letter.

The NRCC recently distributed a spreadsheet listing campaign contributions from financial institutions to Democrats. NRCC spokesman Ken Spain was quoted in media reports as attempting to link the contributions to claims that the financial reform bill would enact a permanent bailout for banks.

While Public Citizen disagrees with Spain’s assertion about a bailout, “We welcome his implicit acknowledgment that campaign contributions from powerful institutions undermine the integrity of our policymaking process,” the letter states. “At a minimum, they create the perception of corruption in the legislative process, which the NRCC seeks to focus on Democrats.”

To help weaken the grip of corporate interests on congressional policymakers, the NRCC should support the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826) and measures to counter the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that corporations can spend unlimited amounts directly to elect or defeat candidates. Proposals that the NRCC should support include a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, a prohibition on government contractors spending money on elections, more disclosure of corporate money transferred outside political groups to influence elections and shareholder approval of any corporate money spent on campaigns.