GETTING BIG MONEY OUT OF POLITICS
Lane Siekman "A Voice for Hoosier Families"
BRINGING SMALL TOWN VALUES TO WASHINGTON
Politics is an expensive process. Money and the power that it buys often leads to corrupt bargains which hurt the process and this nation. Real campaign finance reform is not a progressive issue. It is not a conservative issue. It is an American issue. It is an issue that should concern all Americans, regardless of their political point of view, who wish to preserve the essence of the longest standing democracy in the world, a government that represents all of the people and not a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests. Lane will lead the charge for a constitutional amendment to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision He will insist on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns, including through disclosure of contributions to outside spending groups and will fight to eliminate super PACs and other outside spending abuses.
Running for public office, the first thing that you notice is all of the expenses involved in a campaign. Even a grassroots campaign needs websites, printing, signs, stickers, gas money, telephones, and much more. The bigger the office; the more it costs to travel and get the word out and that doesn’t include the personal expense of taking time off of work or foregoing other opportunities. Campaigns are expensive and they often require the support and guidance of many supporters.
Why are so many willing to pay such big money for an elective office?
More importantly, what do these big donors expect for a return on their investment? Money and the power that it buys often leads to corrupt bargains which hurt the process and this nation. We often hear that our political campaign finance system that is corrupt and increasingly controlled by billionaires and special interests. Our democratic process is being destroyed by big corporations and secretive groups that vote with their pocketbooks. No one likes to admit it, but big money buys elections.
- In 2016, Luke Messer spend $1,113,729 for re-election in Indiana’s Sixth District and didn’t even bother to engage in a single debate with his opponents. He raised lots of money from the Insurance ($247,250), Securities & Investment ($140,300), Real Estate ($138,395), and Commercial Banking ($98,300) industries and that is just the reported amounts.
- There are also "dark money" sources out there waiting to run separate “independent” campaign operations to get what who they want in office. They don't disclose their donors or their goals. They engage in misleading advertising campaigns that seek to define the opponents of their chosen candidates and scare voters into acting against their own best interests. This is because in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court in it’s Citizens United decision, by a 5-to-4 vote, essentially gave the wealthiest people in this country an open invitation to purchase the U.S. Government, the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, Governors’ seats, legislatures, and the State judicial branches as well.
The disastrous Citizens United decision was based on the notion that money is speech, corporations are people, and giving huge piles of undisclosed cash to politicians in exchange for access and influence does not constitute corruption. I personally campaigned against this bad decision in 2012 and 2014 and during the 2016 campaign cycle, billions of dollars from the wealthiest people in this country flooded the political process. Super PACs – a direct outgrowth of the Citizens United decision – enabled the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns. These super PACs, which are supposed to operate independently of the actual candidates, have more money and more influence over campaigns than the candidates themselves.
- There is a 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. This takes power from the voters and the people's interests go without representation.
- Former President Jimmy Carter said, unlimited money in politics, “violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now, it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. Senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election is over.”
Real campaign finance reform is not a progressive issue. It is not a conservative issue. It is an American issue. It is an issue that should concern all Americans, regardless of their political point of view, who wish to preserve the essence of the longest standing democracy in the world, a government that represents all of the people and not a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests.
- We must overturn, through a constitutional amendment, the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision as well as their Buckley v. Valeo decision.
- We need to pass legislation to require wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going.
- To fight corruption, We must move toward the public funding of elections.
America should be a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful. You should not have to sell your soul to win elective office in America.
We must as candidates speak up for the majority of our people – working people, the middle class, low-income people, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor – and find solutions as that will improve lives for all of the people, not just those rich enough to hire a lobbyist or fund a congressman.
I will insist on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns, including through disclosure of contributions to outside spending groups, via legislation, action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, and Federal Communication Commission, and an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. I will fight to eliminate super PACs and other outside spending abuses and work to aggressively enforce campaign finance rules. I will be open and transparent about my campaign financing and my goals after election.
Protecting the Right to Vote
Getting big money out of politics is vital, but much more needs to be done to restore our democracy. We must ensure that all Americans are guaranteed an effective right to vote. We must restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting and vote-by-mail, implement automatic voter registration, end gerrymandering and make Election Day a national holiday, so that everyone can be involved in the process. We need constructive change to bring more people into the political system. Our democracy cannot be truly representative unless elected officials hear from all of their constituents, not just the wealthy and the powerful.
It is often spoken of the power of the people. It is true that people have power but when they are too scared, or too bothered, or too turned off by the corrupt process to use it; we all lose. We must reject cynicism and instead work on solutions, action and accountability that will work. We must:
- Fight to pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that Congress and the states have the power to regulate money in elections. Overturn and end Citizens United once and for all.
- Fight for a publicly financed, transparent system of campaign financing that amplifies small donations, along the lines of the proposed Fair Elections Now Act.
- Insist on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns, including through disclosure of contributions to outside spending groups, via legislation, action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, and Federal Communication Commission, and an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.
- Fight to eliminate super PACs and other outside spending abuses.
- Work to aggressively enforce campaign finance rules.