These 7 End Citizens United Challengers Just Outraised Their Incumbent Opponents

end citizens united challgners outraise competitors

An increasing number of congressional candidates across the country are taking a pledge not to take money from corporate political action committees, better known as Super PACs. While many pundits would consider that a handicap, politicians who have sworn off corporate campaign contributions are actually raising more money than their corporate backed opponents. End Citizens United recently announced their endorsement of seven such candidates.

End Citizens United Endorses Campaign Finance Reform Advocates

A nonprofit organization dedicated to getting corporate money out of politics, End Citizens United, or ECU, rallies grassroots support for candidates who champion campaign finance reform. To get that support, candidates must promise not to take any corporate PAC money. Thanks to the efforts of ECU and other like-minded groups, dozens of Democratic have succeeded in outraising their incumbent Republican opponents while foregoing corporate funds.

In California, Democrat Josh Butner has raised over $107,000, which is more than double the amount his congressional opponent, Duncan Hunter, has received from corporations. Jason Crow in Colorado, Elissa Slotkin in Michigan, Andy Kim in New Jersey, Anthony Brindisi in New York and Christina Hartman in Pennsylvania have also outraised their opponents without help from corporate donors. Perhaps most impressively, Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised $2.4 million so far in his bid to challenge U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

Why Do We Need Campaign Finance Reform?

The 2011 Citizens United Supreme Court decision opened the door for unlimited campaign spending. Consequently, a few wealthy individuals and businesses have been able to effectively buy the winners of state and federal elections. Democrats and Republicans alike have since stepped up their efforts to court corporate dollars. Since the Citizens United decision, Super PACs have poured over $2 billion into U.S. elections.

Of course, corporations don't make donations out of the goodness of their hearts; they don't have hearts. In fact, corporations are legally required to prioritize the financial interests of their shareholders above all other considerations. For big businesses, campaign contributions are an investment for which a return is expected.

“The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has been a disaster for our democracy," claims ECU Executive Director Tiffany Muller. "It fundamentally rigged the system to accommodate the needs of billionaires and corporate special interests while shutting out the rest of us."

How End Citizens United Is Getting Corporate Money Out of Politics

While ECU aims to diminish the influence of money in politics, campaigns still cost money to run. Therefore, the organization is encouraging individual citizens to pool their small donations together in an effort to counteract the influence of corporate dollars. End Citizens United backs up its commitment to transparency by making their Federal Elections Commission filings public.

ECU raised more than half-a-million dollars for Doug Jones, the Democrat who surprised everyone by winning one of Alabama’s U.S. Senate seats at the end of last year. The group also recently endorsed 33-year-old marine veteran Conor Lamb, who is running for the U.S. House in a Pennsylvania district that President Donald Trump won in a landslide. So far, the organization has only supported Democratic candidates, but the group embraces anyone who shares their cause.

“These candidates are working to improve people’s lives — not the bottom lines of for-profit corporations,” End Citizens United communications director Adam Bozzi said in a statement. With faith in the government at an all-time low, Bozzi observed, “It’s no surprise that grassroots donors are rallying to support candidates who are working for the people instead of a handful of mega-donors, corporate special interests and secret money groups.”

ECU's multifaceted strategy also involves supporting state ballot measures to limit the influence of money in politics. ECU recently announced its support for bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to overturn the Citizens United decision by amending the U.S. Constitution.

Voters Reject Corporate Sponsored Candidates

Voters are finally fed up, and they're ready to embrace candidates who are willing to stand up to corporate interests and stand up for individuals. Likewise, some savvy politicians are capitalizing on the zeitgeist by making campaign finance reform a central part of their platform.

Polls conducted by End Citizens United suggest that the majority of voters have a favorable view of candidates who reject corporate donations. Independents and unaffiliated voters in particular are partial to such candidates. Hopefully, more politicians will realize that standing up for the little guy is no longer a liability; it's a winning strategy.

The American political landscape is more volatile than it has been in a long time, and the nation is in a populist mood. In addition to Jones's victory, 34 state legislative seats flipped in 2017 alone, which is why the upcoming midterm election has both Democrats and Republicans expecting the unexpected. Now is the time to seize on the anti-establishment momentum and bring meaningful change to Washington and beyond.


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