Reclaiming Our Democracy

In 2012, Super PACs grew drastically, and they exemplify the strenghtened grasp big money has on our elections: Just 47 individuals, donating $1 million or more, were responsible for more than half the individual contributions to Super PACs — and only 6 percent came from donations under $10,000.

GET BIG MONEY OUT OF OUR ELECTIONS

Special interest money has long had a corrosive effect on our politics, but in 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a new era of unprecedented spending by a handful of millionaires and corporations on our elections.

Since, then we've seen so-called “uncoordinated” outside campaign financiers on track to spend in 2012 over three-times more than in the record-breaking 2008 election. This wave of outside cash threatens to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens in our democracy.

We still don’t, and may never, know the specific interests behind this growing trend, but we know how to fight back: by building the case — one community, one state, even one corporation at a time — for overturning the entirety of the Citizens United decision through a constitutional amendment.

In the meantime, we're also working on several short-term strategies to stanch the flow of big money in our elections.

• Taking the fight directly to corporate political donors (and would-be donors)

We’re partnering with shareholder advocacy groups in pressing corporations such as Target and Bank of America to refrain from spending on political campaigns, and we’re also supporting the Shareholder Protection Act, a bill that would require corporations to seek the explicit approval of shareholders before spending a dime in electoral politics.

• Forcing political spending into the light of day

Our researchers have documented the rise of Super PACs and other groups funneling secret money into our elections, exposing some of the funding sources for these campaign finance behemoths, but we're also prodding our state and federal lawmakers to implement more thorough disclosure laws.

• Amplifying the power of small donors

Encouraging millions of everyday Americans to small contributions can help counterbalance the influence of special interests in our elections. We are working with federal and state legislators to implement programs like tax credits, campaign vouchers, and matching public funds to create a swell of grassroots funding.

Ultimately, we must amend the Constitution to clarify to the Court that our democratic elections were never intended as a tool for special interests to drown out the voices of others. That’s why we worked in a coalition of organizations including Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Fair Share to qualify Amendment 65 which directs out elected officials to do just that. In November 2012, 74% of voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 65 and it passed in every single county in Colorado. Since then we've seen some action by our Colorado delegation to fulfill the will of the voters but not enough.

Issue updates

Report | CoPIRG Foundation and Demos | Democracy

The Dominance of Big Money in the 2014 Congressional Elections

In 2014, large donors accounted for the vast majority of all individual federal election contributions this cycle, just as they have in previous elections. Seven of every 10 individual contribution dollars to the federal candidates, parties, PACs and Super PACs that were active in the 2013-2014 election cycle came from donors who gave $200 or more. Candidates alone got 84 percent of their individual contributions from large donors.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Democracy

Big Money Dominates in Congressional Primaries

Our analysis of fund-raising data from 2014’s congressional primaries examines the way these dynamics are playing out state by state across the country. While some states show markedly more inequity than others, the picture painted by the data is of a primary money race where large donors carry more weight than ordinary Americans. Nationwide, just under two-thirds of all candidate contributions came from the largest donors (those giving over $1,000). And fewer than 5,500 large donors matched the primary contributions coming from at least 440,000 donors nationwide.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. U.S. PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

We project that striking the aggregate contribution limit would bring more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

CoPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

CoPIRG applauded Rep. Polis and Perlmutter today for co-sponsoring new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process. Rep. Polis and Perlmutter are co-sponsors of the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), legislation that would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. U.S. PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

CoPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

CoPIRG applauded Rep. Polis and Perlmutter today for co-sponsoring new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process. Rep. Polis and Perlmutter are co-sponsors of the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), legislation that would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

6 Congress members Receive Failing Grades for Inaction on Amendment 65

Only three of Colorado’s nine Congress members have taken concrete action in response to Amendment 65, a call to action by Colorado voters last November to get big money out of our elections, according to a new report by CoPIRG and Colorado Common Cause. The two organizations graded the delegation on the same day that the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on McCutcheon vs FEC, a case that could exacerbate the flood of big money in politics.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

Post-Amendment 65: Mixed Report for Colorado’s Delegation

Denver– On the eve of the three-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, one that opened the campaign spending floodgates, two state-based groups reported that too many in Colorado’s Congressional delegation have done too little to respond to Amendment 65’s call for campaign spending reform. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Democracy

Amendment 65 Expected to Win Overwhelmingly

Based on early returns, it appears clear that Colorado voters will approve Amendment 65 today by an overwhelming margin and send a clear message to their elected officials – get big money out of our elections.  As of 8pm and with 1.2 million votes reported, Amendment 65 was passing overwhelmingly in counties including Mesa, Douglas, Kit Carson, Boulder and Jefferson.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | CoPIRG Foundation and Demos | Democracy

The Dominance of Big Money in the 2014 Congressional Elections

In 2014, large donors accounted for the vast majority of all individual federal election contributions this cycle, just as they have in previous elections. Seven of every 10 individual contribution dollars to the federal candidates, parties, PACs and Super PACs that were active in the 2013-2014 election cycle came from donors who gave $200 or more. Candidates alone got 84 percent of their individual contributions from large donors.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Democracy

Big Money Dominates in Congressional Primaries

Our analysis of fund-raising data from 2014’s congressional primaries examines the way these dynamics are playing out state by state across the country. While some states show markedly more inequity than others, the picture painted by the data is of a primary money race where large donors carry more weight than ordinary Americans. Nationwide, just under two-thirds of all candidate contributions came from the largest donors (those giving over $1,000). And fewer than 5,500 large donors matched the primary contributions coming from at least 440,000 donors nationwide.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

We project that striking the aggregate contribution limit would bring more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

Pass or Fail

Nearly a year later and almost half-way through the term of the 113th Congress, it is past time for the Colorado delegation to act on Amendment 65 and move forward a constitutional amendment that allows for campaign spending limits. To measure which Congress members are taking their voters seriously and which ones are not, we graded them on whether they had taken a simple yet important step to follow the wishes of Colorado voters. Did they introduce or cosponsor a constitutional amendment that would fulfill the call to action of Amendment 65?

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Democracy

January 17th Update - Congressional Action on Amendment 65

Between January 14th and January 17th, CoPIRG staff contacted every Colorado Congressmember's office asking for a report on their activities around the implementation of Amendment 65.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

You Can Help

We have a chance to curb the unprecedented spending by big money in our elections. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

consumer alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code