Richmond, VA – Today, Virginia led the country by taking a critical step towards fixing our broken democracy. The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution supporting an amendment to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that has enabled corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts to influence our elections.
“Today, despite living in a state where there is almost no regulation on big money in elections, we as Virginians have joined countless other Americans in sending the resounding message that we will not tolerate big money in our politics,” said Ilana Beller, a Public Citizen organizer and a resident of Virginia. “We must use this momentum to ensure that the United States Congress votes to enshrine this protection of our democracy in our Constitution.”
The passing of this resolution is particularly notable in Virginia, which is one of five states with no limits on campaign contributions. Political spending in Virginia has reached record highs, with $382 million spent during the 2020 election cycle, nearly double that of 2016.
Despite this record spending, Virginians, and Americans as a whole, agree that we need to get big money out of politics. Nearly 90% of Americans agree that big money is undermining our democracy, and three in four Americans back a constitutional amendment allowing Congress and the states to regulate campaign finance.
Virginia joins 21 other states and over 800 municipalities in supporting an amendment to overturn Citizens United. This state resolution comes at a pivotal moment: the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced HJ Res 1, the federal joint resolution that proposes the constitutional amendment that will regulate election spending and overturn Citizens United.
For the past 11 years, Public Citizen has led efforts to overturn Citizens United. In Virginia, Public Citizen worked with American Promise and other partners to build and lead a grassroots coalition of 51 state and local organizations across the Commonwealth in support of the resolution. The coalition generated thousands of emails from residents urging legislators to vote in favor of the resolution. Residents also wrote letters to the editor, organized online and called their legislators.