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Public Statements

Issue Position: Campaign Finance Reform Constitutional Amendment

Issue Position

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Date:
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Notwithstanding anything else in this Constitution to the contrary [This language is to pre-empt the First Amendment's "Freedom of Speech" clause as presently interpreted by the Supreme Court.], only a natural born or naturalized United States citizen who is at least 16 years of age [This language is to remove all doubt that corporations are qualified "persons" who can contribute to a campaign. It also will preclude non-citizens and PACs from contributing.] and who resides in the voting district where the election or vote will take place may provide either financial or non-financial support or opposition to a federal, state or local candidate or to a state or local ballot issue. [This language is to prevent individuals who do not reside in the electoral district (and thus who the elected candidate will not "represent") from contributing or opposing a candidate or ballot issue. No longer will citizens (outside of their own electoral district) corporations, unions or foreigners be able to buy representation. Only the U.S. citizens who will be represented by the elected official or who will be directly affected by an initiative or referendum will be able to give money to a candidate or ballot issue.]

In the first year that this Amendment takes effect, the maximum financial contribution that a citizen can make to any candidate or issue is $2,600 in the primary election and $2,600 in the general election. Thereafter, those amounts will be annually increased/decreased by the rate of inflation/deflation. [If you look at what candidates spend per vote to get elected this Amendment will allow candidates to run very viable campaigns. This will also prevent the very rich from self-funding a campaign.]

All financial contributions must be made from the contributor's own funds [This language is to prevent any "indirect" contributions]. No money, the source or amount of which is other than as allowed by this Amendment may be used or spent to influence the outcome of an election or a vote. [This language is to stop Super PACs, special interests and the very rich from coming in from the outside and trying to influence/buy an election.]
All contributions must be publicly disclosed, by the recipient, within ten days of their receipt. [This language is to ensure transparency.]
Nothing in this Amendment shall be construed to restrict or abridge the freedom of the press. [Bloggers and editorial writers will still be free to express their opinions on candidates and issues.]
Nothing in this Amendment shall be construed to restrict or abridge the Congress or the individual states from publicly funding elections.

Congress shall have the power to enforce this Article through appropriate legislation.

Amendment Rationale:

Very little will ever get done politically until campaign finance system is reformed to take the power from the monied and give that power to the voters (where it rightfully belongs). Right now most ordinary citizens feel that the political systems, in this country, are stacked against them and in favor of special interests and the rich. Many Americans feel like their vote, their voice mean nothing and according do not participate in elections. That is what allows special interests and the rich to use their wealth to buy elections.

We do not have a pure democracy where every citizen has a vote on every issue. Rather we have a "representative" democracy where we vote for people to represent us. But, while we have a representative form of government we are not getting the "representation" we deserve because special interests (i.e. "super PACS", wealthy individuals, lobbyists, unions and corporations) who do not live in the district where the candidate is running give millions of dollars in campaign contributions to candidates and issues. These monied outsiders do not give their money because they are altruistic, they give it with an expectation of getting some kind of legislation passed (or defeated). This means that outside special interests are buying influence from those who are elected to represent us. Allowing outsiders to donate money to campaigns means that the representation we are supposed to be getting from our elected officials, is appreciably diminished. I feel strongly that our elected representatives should only represent the citizens in their district, and should not be representing anyone outside of their district. Greg Walden received 83% of his campaign contributions ($1,534,640) from outside of our district. Like I said, the people outside of our district did not make those contributions because they are altruistic. They made them solely because they want Mr. Walden to, at our expense, "represent" their interests).

It has been more than six years since Citizens United. That Supreme Court decision brought forward the absurd notions that money is speech, that corporations are people, and that giving huge piles of undisclosed cash in support of politicians in exchange for influence does not constitute corruption! In essence, that ruling handed Super PACs, millionaires and billionaires unlimited influence in our elections.

Moreover, much of this special interest spending occurs without disclosure of the sources of funding. This lack of transparency undermines the voters' ability to make informed decisions and makes corruption even more likely. The biggest reason for this amendment is to oppose the power of money in politics and how the current campaign finance system allows the rich to rig the system and distort policy priorities.

We know, for example, that the Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, want to use the Citizens United decision to buy politicians across the country. This election cycle alone, they have committed to spend at least $750 million on political activities -- an outrageous sum that is corrupting our political process. And I can assure you they won't be spending that money with the interests of working families, women, and seniors in mind. Concentrating so much influence in the hands of so few is simply unacceptable, and it's time for the American people to rise up and reclaim our democracy.

Let's be honest and acknowledge what we are talking about. We are talking about a rapid movement in this country towards a political system in which a handful of very wealthy people and special interests will determine who gets elected or who does not get elected. That is not what this country is supposed to be about. That was not Abraham Lincoln's vision of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

My Constitutional Amendment is one that is neither right nor left; Republican or Democrat; it simply gives all the power to United States citizens and thereby makes our elected officials more attentive to those they are supposed to represent (i.e. their constituents). If my Amendment is approved it will fundamentally change the way elections are financed and will, in the process, eviscerate the power of special interests because candidates will no longer be getting their campaign funds from special interests but rather only from the United States citizens that they hope to represent.

My vision for American democracy is a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can fairly participate in the political process, and can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful. While other politicians may make you the same promise, I am the only candidate running with a Campaign Finance amendment already drafted.


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