Guest Column: Restore our democracy’s integrity — fight big money

Elisabeth MacNamara
Elisabeth MacNamara

By Elisabeth MacNamara
President, League of Women Voters

Another election has come and gone, and millions of Americans went to the polls to vote at the local, state and federal levels on the issues and candidates that mattered most to them. While they were working as citizens to make those important decisions, millions of dollars of secret money poured into the 2014 elections from dark money groups that hide the identity of their donors, seeking to buy our elected officials and distort our elections. And we won’t ever know who paid for all of the ads that bombarded voters throughout the election.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) can do something to stop the secret money. But so far, the Commission has failed to set new rules requiring full disclosure in our elections. Tell the FEC to stop the secret money that is polluting our elections!

What’s more, Super PACs raised and spent more than $600 million in 2014 to elect candidates who will do their bidding and defeat those who might resist. Super PACs and other outside groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts because they are supposedly “independent” from the candidates, but in reality, there are many ways to coordinate that are not blocked by the FEC’s weak regulations.

The FEC can do something to stop the Super PACs from coordinating with candidates, which would put a lid on much of the outside spending from special interests. Tell the FEC to stop the coordinated spending that is poisoning our elections!

The FEC is the federal agency in charge of our nation’s campaign finance laws, but so far, they’ve done practically nothing to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in Citizens United, which unleashed the secret and unlimited spending. The FEC has authority under existing law, even after Citizens United, to set disclosure rules and rigorously define “coordination,” but thus far, they have refused to do so.

The FEC is now receiving public comment about steps they should take “to address corruption in the political process.” We need you to tell the FEC to act and enforce the law.

The American voter has a right to know who is funding political campaigns. And the American public has a right to have the law against unlimited coordinated expenditures strictly enforced. Tell the FEC to shine a light on secret money and tell the FEC to stop coordinated expenditures by outside groups.

We must work to maintain the integrity of our democracy by ensuring our elected official will be responsive to voters and not to the big money and the secret money from special interests. The stakes are too high, and the League will not stand by and let our political system be corrupted.

Please, add your voice to thousands of others by taking action now: visit http://participate.lwv.org/c/10065/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10471.

Elisabeth MacNamara is president of the League of Women Voters.

From the Dec. 24-30, 2014, issue

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