In what is often referred to as one of the most radical and destructive campaign finance decisions in American history, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United gave corporations the go ahead to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The decision, as well as other court and regulatory actions taken since then, have largely deregulated the campaign finance system. As a result, corporations and huge financial moguls are able to funnel millions in campaign cash to advocacy groups – or Super Pacs - that are not required to disclose their donors’ identities to the Federal Election Commission.
Many Americans feel that all of this undisclosed money allows a few anonymous lobbyists to, essentially, buy political support and endorse their favorite candidates at the expense of the 99%. Political activists bemoan the multi-million dollar checks continuously rolling in, claiming that the interests of a few wealthy individuals are unfairly dominating American politics. Yet despite the fact that 6 in 10 Americans say they disagree with the Citizens United ruling and 8 in 10 who think that there is "too much big money" in politics - campaign finance reforms have repeatedly failed to make headway in Congress.
In this money-drenched system, the upcoming presidential campaign already looks to be the most expensive in history. The combined total campaign funds raised by the Romney and Obama campaigns reached a whopping 138 million as of May. Experts predict that come fall, spending could exceed $11 billion – that’s more than double the 2008 total.
Yet there are tangible steps that the Securities and Exchange Commission can take to ensure that our democracy doesn’t fall into the hands of a wealthy, anonymous few. Forcing campaign fundraising groups to make public the identities of their donors would provide transparency to a system currently dominated by secret spending and corporate interests. It’s time to reclaim our democracy from the stampede of mega donor-fueled super PACs!