Of PAC’s, Trolls And Concerned Citizens

Here we go again, the talk of money with suspicious origins making its way into American politics is back again. There has been a cloud of suspicion hanging over last years Presidential election, with regards to who all were trying to influence it through campaign donations or other means. The Kremlin, it seems, was working through a Russian company, trying to get a slice of the pie, by paying for ads that could sway the elections towards the candidate they deemed friendly. That was not all. Even early on when there were still a few politicians running and hoping to get nominated, there were reports of foreign companies giving money to candidates.

One example would be, a company based in California with connections to Chinese citizens, gave as much as $1.3 million to a PAC that favored Jeb Bush. However, what makes the Russian case interesting is the manner in which they operated. They have a sophisticated setup of IT professionals who are in essence running a troll farm. This group was tasked with the job to come up with smear campaigns against Trump’s opponents. Whether they were successful or not, or if they even did this or not, will be decided by Robert Muller, who is investigating this angle.

It has been known for a while now that the right-wing has done anything it can to neutralize any laws concerning campaign finance. This has opened the doors to a few wealthy donors having almost unlimited access to power. All this, coupled with the foreign interference, makes it easy to see why American democracy is in great danger. The scary part is, if relatively friendly countries are meddling in the process, one can only imagine what the enemies are doing or capable of.

The news is not all dark when it comes to these and other revelations. There is a silver lining in the form of a group called End Citizens United, taking the fight for campaign finance reform to the doorsteps of the US government. It was started as a counter to Citizens United, which is a PAC run by a few ultra wealthy donors, with the intention of influencing policy in Washington D.C.

End Citizens United was started in 2015 because of a specific ruling by the Supreme Court of US. This ruling stated that corporations are indeed people, and that meant they could make donations for campaigns. There is also no limit when it comes to these donations. End Citizens United aims to combat this and other actions. The group is not funded by corporations, and wealthy individual donors, but by ordinary individuals making small contributions. Along with fighting large corporate donors, the group also strives to get pro-reform candidates elected, such as Doug Jones of Alabama.

Search more End Citizens United at http://www.politifact.com/personalities/end-citizens-united/

End Citizens United: Reform Campaign Finance System

For those not in the know, End Citizens United is considered a public action committee that was founded in March 2015. Their goal is to petition for certain changes in the United States campaign finance system. This public action committee managed to garner more than $4 million within the first three months of the year (2017).

Projections

They believe they will be able to raise at least $35 million by the 2018 midterm elections. This projected total would represent an increase of approximately $10 million from the total they were able to raise for last year’s election. End Citizens United hopes to use the funds to advance the campaigns of Democrats in hopes of having more of them in Congress during the next elections in order to further reforms in the U.S. campaign finance system. Some of their early choices include Sherrod Brown, Jon Oscoff, and Jon Tester. They are vying for offices in Ohio, Georgia, and Montana respectively.

Reforms

End Citizens United receives donations from individuals. The group does not accept any individual donation over $5,000. This is done to remain consistent with their campaign to end funding of any political campaign by large corporations which the Supreme Court made legal seven years ago via its decision in a specific case wherein it defined corporations to actually be people.

Impact Of End Citizens United

The people behind End Citizens United feel their actions have had a significant impact on elections in the United States. Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, told the press that the funds they raised during the first quarter of the year came from almost 100,000 different people. She added that 40 percent of these individuals were “first-time donors.”
Muller speculates that this could possibly be because some individuals are still upset over Hillary Clinton’s losing the 2016 election, and are doing everything in their power to make certain their candidate wins next time. She said that their public action committee has not yet made an official final decision on exactly who they will support next year. They believe that with more Democrats seated in Congress, they may be able to reform the United States election finance system.

End Note

End Citizens United is fighting to make significant changes to the U.S. campaign finance system. Even with the set limit on the total amount that any one individual donor can make, End Citizens United was reportedly among the major contributors during the last election campaign period. They say this demonstrates that it is possible for public action committees to make an impact without accepting any funds from special interest unions or corporations.

Follow End Citizens United on Twitter