Dem lawmaker: ‘We are all tainted’ by campaign finance system

Democracy Spring, Citizens United, Campaign Finance Reform
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A House Democrat said the rise of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders railing against the influence of money in politics suggests that Congress should take up campaign finance reform legislation to improve its public image.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), whose state will cast votes in both parties’ primaries next Tuesday, said widespread public frustration with the rising costs of campaigns reflects poorly on members of Congress. 

“It occurred to me in watching the coverage last night that there’s something the majority of Americans, and probably a majority of both those who are supporting Donald Trump and those who are supporting Bernie Sanders, agree on. And that is that they believe that Washington, D.C., is bought and paid for,” Boyle said in a House floor speech on Wednesday, the day after primaries in New York.

{mosads}That perception, Boyle said, is making it harder for the public to trust the motives of lawmakers like himself.

“As someone who has chosen public service as a profession, that deeply concerns me. A majority of Americans believe right now that we are all tainted by this campaign finance process. Even though I believe that most who have chosen this profession are good and honorable people wanting to do the right thing,” he said, “the fact is, we are all tainted by the way in which our campaigns are financed.” 

Sanders has made reforming the campaign finance system, particularly with a call to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited spending by corporations, a centerpiece of his White House bid. And Trump has claimed that his ability to largely self-fund his campaign and reject contributions from wealthy donors prevents him from being beholden to special interests.

Over the last week, more than 1,200 protesters aligned with Democracy Spring were arrested for staging sit-ins at the Capitol. The demonstrators were calling on Congress to take up campaign finance reform legislation, including to overturn Citizens United, modernize voter registration laws and consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. 

Boyle cited one of the specific bills highlighted by Democracy Spring, a measure to create a public campaign finance system, as a start for Congress.

“Let’s get all of this outside money entirely out of the system and return the confidence that the people will have in their elected officials,” Boyle said.

Tags Bernie Sanders Campaign finance Campaign Fundraising Citizens United Donald Trump
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