Beto O’Rourke has just done something astonishing running as a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas. O’Rourke raked in a record-breaking $38 million in just one quarter to bolster his campaign effort — but even more amazing is how he did it.
O’Rourke has refused all large contributions from giant corporations, Super PACs, special interest groups and various millionaires and billionaires who like to “buy” elections. Instead. Congressman O’Rourke is running a strictly grassroots fundraising model. He accepts only small donations from ordinary, average American citizens. More than 800,000 individuals donated to the O’Rourke effort in the past three months. Read more news about the group on USA Today.
A campaign finance reform group called End Citizens United is backing O’Rourke and taking inspiration from his amazing accomplishment. End Citizens United is a political action committee that is dedicated to getting big money out of politics — and if a candidate needs to raise tens of millions to get elected, he or she should do it the way Beto O’Rourke has done it.
End Citizens United was formed in 2015. It is based in Washington D.C. and helmed by CEO Tiffany Muller. The laser-like focus of the group is to stop giant corporations and other Big Money interests from donating huge amounts of cash to political candidates so that they can control them once they get into office.
Ultimately, End Citizens united wants a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which opened the way for any entity to donate as much campaign cash as they want to any candidate. That’s a big undertaking since it takes two-thirds of the 50 states to ratify a new Amendment and then a two-thirds approval vote in Congress. Such an endeavor could take years.
But there is a lot that can be done in the meantime, such as electing candidates like Beto O’Rourke. To that end, End Citizens United has endorsed dozens of people running — mostly as Democrats — who share the vision of large-scale campaign finance reform. Flipping the U.S. House and possibly the Senate from Republican to Democrat control would be a gigantic step forward.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton was making her first run for the presidency. At that time, a group calling itself Citizens United produced and aired a film called “Hillary: The Movie”. The Federal Election Commission made a ruling that this was actually a paid political advertisement in the guise of a movie, and they demanded that the funding source for the movie be disclosed. View their financial information on Open Secrets.
The Citizens United group refused to comply with the FEC rules. The case was taken to federal court, and the FEC prevailed all the way through the appellate court level. In 2010, the case reached the Supreme Court of the United States.
In a somewhat surprising 5 to 4 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed all of the lower court decisions, and they rules in favor of the Citizens United group. The court overturned many campaign finance laws, and they determined that corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals.
In the wake of the End Citizens United ruling, several groups and individuals rose up in opposition to the verdict. One of these groups was End Citizens United. This group was founded in 2015 with the express purpose of seeing the overturn of the Citizens United decision. End Citizens United also seeks to elect public officials who will work to implement campaign finance reform laws and limit the impact of corporate money in politics. Follow the group on facebook.com.
One way that End Citizens United works to help candidates and promote their agenda is by endorsing candidates that they feel promote what they stand for. In 2016, End Citizens United went after many of the biggest recipients of corporate money. In 2018, End Citizens United is endorsing more candidates, and they are spending more money to unseat the twenty members of Congress who are most beholden to corporate PAC money.
ECU will continue to work to see the Citizens United decision overturned by laws passed in the House and Senate. The 2018 mid-term elections will be a critical benchmark to determine if campaign finance reform will head one step closer to passage.