July 9, 2012
Washington, D.C., to Vote on Corporate Influence in Elections
Statement of Aquene Freechild, Senior Organizer, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign
Note: Initiative 70 is a ballot measure that makes it possible for Washington, D.C., voters to ban corporate contributions direct to D.C. candidates. Five percent of District voters must sign petitions in order to get a question on the D.C. ballot; signature collectors for Initiative 70 exceeded the 5 percent by a solid margin.
Today is a victory for democracy. More than 30,000 District residents are rising up to rout out legalized corruption in D.C. elections. They are demanding that D.C. elected officials will answer to the voters, not to campaign-contributing corporations.
For-profit contributions in elections must make money for the giver to justify the gift; these gifts are fundamentally corrupting.
Corporate campaign giving makes a mockery of spending limits, as bundling through subsidiaries and affiliates is used to breach the legal campaign cash limits. The volunteer-led efforts of D.C. Public Trust made this victory possible; Public Citizen is proud we played our part.
We are confident that with this measure on the ballot, District residents will make clear with their votes that they want to end the corporate corruption of our elections.
The effort to curb big money in our elections is not limited to Washington. District residents are connecting the local problem to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. They see that the flood of unaccountable Super PAC money and outside group spending is swamping federal, state and local elections nationwide. Just as we must stop legalized bribery through direct contributions to candidates, we also must put a stop to legalized corruption through so-called independent expenditures.
The vast majority of people across political parties believe that Citizens United was wrongly decided. This is why, in addition to working to pass commonsense measures like D.C.’s Initiative 70, Public Citizen joins six state legislatures, 275 towns and cities from New York to Los Angeles, more than 100 members of Congress and the millions of people who have signed petitions to call for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of elections.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.