Today, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations to spend obscene amounts of money to sway federal elections. In a 5-4 rule this morning, the Roberts Court sided with powerful corporate interests, giving them even more voice in the political process and further stifling the voice of the American People in the Citizens United v. FEC case. This Court’s decision is historic and has the potential to distort and corrupt the political process.
Our democracy and the future of environmental legislation is in jeopardy. In 2009, oil and gas industries spent $7.8 million in campaign contributions and $120.7 million in lobbying; with the Court’s decision, those industries can now spend unlimited amounts in independent expenditures. Now, if a member of Congress is considering regulating oil and gas companies, corporations like ExxonMobil could spend virtually unlimited amounts from their general funds on television ads, direct mail, or phone banks to defeat that member. Will this influence members’ votes on key environmental legislation because they fear unlimited money being used to campaign against them?
Based on the Court’s decision, Congress needs to act quickly to empower everyday Americans and end the undue influence of big money on our elected officials. We urge Congress to include the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752/H.R. 1826) as part of the legislative solution to Citizens United. The Court has radically changed the political landscape and Congress needs to act to put democracy back in the hands of the American people, not corporations.