News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Despite New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu's claims to the contrary, unlimited campaign spending in fact distorts the principles established by the First Amendment, according to Leah Field.

Five reasons unlimited spending undermines American democracy

Field is the managing director of American Promise, which seeks to limit the power of corporate, union, political party and super PAC money in politics.

Despite what the Supreme Court has asserted, unlimited spending doesn't support democracy or free speech — and Americans know it. That's why more than 80 percent support a constitutional amendment to authorize limits on the influence of big money in our political system. People see how unlimited political spending is undermining representative democracy, distorting our economy and undermining public trust — and they want it to change.

Here's a recent example: Despite receiving cross-partisan support from across New Hampshire (citizen volunteers passed 83 local resolutions across New Hampshire in the lead-up to the statewide legislation) and in the Legislature, a resolution calling on Congress to approve the so-called 28th Amendment was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu on July 11.

What could convince him to oppose the will of his constituents and the Legislature? Opponents of the amendment primarily argue that unlimited political spending strengthens democracy, increasing access to elected office and fostering productive debate, while limiting spending enables the government to limit speech about candidates and officials.

How do these claims hold up? Not very well. While the governor claims the amendment is "part of a national campaign designed to overturn constitutional protections of free speech," the truth is that unlimited spending distorts the principles established by the First Amendment. Let's break down this and other arguments against the amendment.

Keep reading... Show less
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Steyer is the latest Democrat to enter the presidential race.

Dominant force in campaign giving, Steyer vows presidential run to take on big money

When liberal billionaire Tom Steyer announced his entry into the presidential race on Tuesday, his central vow was to take on the big-money influences that have infiltrated American politics. But his own extraordinary level of political spending has made him a big-money influence in his own right — and signals he's positioned to become the biggest self-funder in Democratic presidential history.

In the six years he's been active in national politics, Steyer has spent $240 million to promote candidates — almost all of them committed to an activist role in combatting climate change or the impeachment of President Trump.

And he's done so through the very system that's a prime target of criticism among advocates for revamping the campaign finance system. He has funneled almost all the money through two super PACs he created, NextGen Climate Action and Need to Impeach, which in turn have spent lavishly on television advertising in support of the Democratic candidates he likes and opposing the Republicans he doesn't. Steyer was the face of many of the TV spots.

Keep reading... Show less

Political fundraising app wants to make donations a social experience

Creators of a new nonpartisan political fundraising app want to change the way candidates raise money and voters engage in elections.

Royal Kastens, John Polis and Chris Tavlarides – three friends of varying political ideologies – launched Prytany on Wednesday, just before the first Democratic presidential primary debates. Not only will the app allow people to donate to campaigns, but it will also serve as a social media platform, connecting users to issues they care about.

The trio was inspired by their own experiences donating to campaigns, and the frustrations they faced doing so. In the past, they found the donation process to be tedious because there wasn't a central place to give money to candidates across party lines.

Named after the ancient Greek system of democracy, Prytany aims to change that. Its founders want the platform to be the Amazon of political donating and voter engagement.

Keep reading... Show less
Good Ole Mitch

End Citizens United releases ad critical of McConnell for not allowing vote on HR 1

A political action committee has launched a digital ad campaign attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing House-passed government reform legislation to his chamber's floor.

The 30-second ad, titled "Good Ole Mitch," was released Tuesday by End Citizens United at a cost of $50,000.

The ad claims McConnell has a "long history of making sure politicians can be bought" and accuses him of opening "the floodgates for special interest money into our political system."

McConnell, the ad says, is now blocking consideration of the For the People Act. The comprehensive bill passed by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats, would strengthen ethics rules, expand voting rights and limit gerrymandering.

Keep reading... Show less
© Issue One. All rights reserved.