Things That Actually Matter: Campaign Finance Reform

While everyone was off chowing down on the nothingburger being served by the bored press (“not sorry?” “sorry” “but are you really really sorry?”), Hillary Clinton was rolling out more of her 2016 presidential campaign platform. On Tuesday, it was campaign finance reform, something that is personal for her.

Did you know Citizens United was started by a conservative group lobbying against Hillary Clinton? Watch as Kristina Schake of the Hillary For America campaign explains why Hillary is passionate about overturning Citizen United, and stoping the flow of dark unaccountable money in campaigns.

Secretary Clinton:

“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans,” Clinton said in a statement. “Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee. It starts with overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and continues with structural reform to our campaign finance system so there’s real sunshine and increased participation.” […]

David Donnelly, the president and CEO of Every Voice, a campaign finance reform group, praised Clinton’s plan, noting it was as comprehensive and bold on the issue as the proposals he has seen from any presidential candidate.

“These proposals get us 90 percent to 95 percent there to address the issue of money in our elections,” he said, adding that the additional 5 to 10 percent comes down to enforcing the rules.

To those who call this call for changes hypocritical since Hillary Clinton’s campaign will benefit from Super-PACs:

“Those candidates that are competing in the current system have to play under the rules as they are rather than the rules as they should be,” [Donnelly] said. “Hillary Clinton has chosen to come out with a serious plan to address a major problem that every voter and every candidate knows exists, and the alternative is to basically clam up and not talk about it and accept the way things are.”

Hillary Clinton’s Proposals to Restore Integrity to American Elections Overturning Citizens United

Americans are understandably cynical about a political system that has been hijacked by billionaires and special interests who will spend whatever it takes to crowd out the voices of everyday Americans. And with the rise of unlimited, secret spending in our political process, it is virtually impossible for anyone to really know who or what is influencing our elected officials. On issues from climate change to equal pay and immigration reform, voters won’t believe Washington will work for them unless we take on the power and stranglehold that wealthy interests have over our political system.

Hillary Clinton has made revitalization of our democracy a key pillar of her campaign. She will fight to ensure that our democracy works for everyday Americans and leads to government of, by, and for the people, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Her proposals will curb the outsized influence of big money in American politics, bring sunshine to secret spending, and institute real reform to raise the voices of regular voters. Key proposals include:
1. Overturning Citizens United
– Appoint Supreme Court justices who value the right to vote over the right of billionaires to buy elections.
– Support a constitutional amendment.
2. Ending Secret, Unaccountable Money in Politics
– Push for federal legislation to require effective public disclosure of political spending.
– Promote SEC rulemaking requiring publicly traded companies to disclose all political spending to their shareholders.
– Sign an Executive Order requiring federal government contractors to fully disclose all political spending.
3. Amplifying the Voices of Everyday Americans.

The current system creates disincentives for voters to feel like their participation matters and for candidates to focus more of their attention on regular voters. It also sets up barriers to ordinary people with extraordinary ideas seeking elective office and serving their country, especially women and people of color. Clinton believes we need a system that empowers all citizens to fully participate and have their voices heard.

This is something new:

She will establish a small donor matching system for presidential and congressional candidates that will incentivize small donors to participate in elections and candidates to spend more time engaging a broad, representative cross-section of constituents, and will include matching funds for small donations.

(More at the link)

  24 comments for “Things That Actually Matter: Campaign Finance Reform

  1. JanF
    September 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Hillary Clinton’s statement about her email accounts:

    Here, let me help you with that, Secretary Clinton:
    “I know this is a complex story, made more complicated by the Republican Congress bent on making something out of nothing in order to drag down every Democratic presidential candidate, not just me. The same Congress that has obstructed President Obama’s agenda would like nothing better than to take out the one candidate who has promised to protect the policies of the Obama Administration and continue the gains we have made as a country since 2009.”

    “p.s. I know that nothing I can say or do will ever change the media’s obsession with these emails, me, or my family. But the American people are smart enough to focus on the things that actually matter, like honest elections.”

    You’re welcome!! ;)

    • bfitzinAR
      September 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      I wish the American people were as smart as Hillary thinks them. But it’s not just Faux News watchers – an unfortunately large – and vocal – chunk of the folks at GOS are part of the witch hunt. I’ll go with one or more of the Spiritual Leaders here – good done in the name of evil is still good but evil done in the name of good is the darkest of sins!

      • JanF
        September 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

        Actually, that was me speaking for Hillary. :)

        But I don’t doubt that she has faith in the intelligence of the American people. If she didn’t, if she believed that the Fox “News” and New York Times and National Journal narratives were set in concrete, she would not be running.

        • bfitzinAR
          September 9, 2015 at 5:29 pm

          I know – but she really does believe that once they know the facts, most Americans will be with her. I’m afraid it’s more of a plurality than a majority. sigh.

  2. JanF
    September 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Here is something else that actually matters. A candidate’s view on the Iranian nuclear agreement:

    • JanF
      September 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Secretary Clinton’s remarks start at 24:56. From Reuters:

      In a speech to a Washington think tank, the former secretary of state reiterated her support for the accord but cautioned that she would take an approach of “distrust and verify” toward Iran if she won the November, 2016 presidential election.[…]

      America’s top diplomat from 2009-2013, Clinton has a stake in the Iran deal succeeding. She helped lay the groundwork for it by building support for sanctions that the Obama administration credits with bringing Tehran to the negotiating table.

      She said she was then involved in the early stages of opening a secret diplomatic channel to Iran via the sultan of Oman.

    • JanF
      September 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      Hillary Clinton (transcript hopefully will become available):

      “Everyone who engages in diplomacy knows that there are no perferct agreements.”

      “Great powers can’t just junk agreements and expect the rest of the world to go along.”

    • bfitzinAR
      September 9, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      That’s Hillary – has a clear grasp of the situation, doesn’t let the perfect get in the way of the good, and keeps everything on the table so she has something to negotiate away without giving up anything she really wants to keep.

      • JanF
        September 9, 2015 at 5:50 pm

        I listened to her prepared remarks and did not stay for the Q&A. I hope I can find a transcript because there were a lot of really good points that help explain her foreign policy positions.

        • bfitzinAR
          September 10, 2015 at 11:37 am

          Meanwhile there’s a plethora of rec list diaries at GOS about “war-monger Hillary” and how she’s finally lost some supposed supporter because she reassured the Israelis that she – and this agreement – is not dumping them in the grease.

          • JanF
            September 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

            I did not hear warmongering. Sheesh, what is she supposed to say “if they break this agreement, we will try something else”? Of course not, you say “if they break this agreement, we will consider our military options”. That is the stick. An AUMF can be used as a stick or abused like it was during the Bush-Cheney administration. To take military force off the table is stupid … to actually use military force unless absolutely necessary is reckless.

            • bfitzinAR
              September 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

              I didn’t either – and my bet is those who are screaming about it neither listened to the video or read the transcript. And of course, as she explained at the time, that’s exactly why she voted for the AUMF – to give the then president a bargaining chip. If Bush-Cheney taught her anything, it’s the “distrust and verify” attitude she’s showing here.

  3. JanF
    September 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Commentary on the Clinton Campaign Finance Reform plan …

    Thomas E. Mann, Brookings Institution

    The gaping differences between the parties on campaign reform are both ideological and strategic. Republicans are more philosophically disposed to elevate free speech over political equality. They also realize that as presently constituted, their party is advantaged by fewer or no restrictions on money in politics, lower turnout among minorities and youth, and single-member districts. Democrats instinctively reject the argument that money is speech and are comfortable with using public authority to set and enforce the rules of democracy. But they also know that they would benefit from restrictions on big money in elections, guaranteed voting rights for all citizens, and a more proportional translation of votes into seats. […]

    The Clinton campaign finance proposals generally follow the thrust of liberal reformers: building a counterforce to big money through multiple matching funds for small donors, increasing transparency by requiring timely disclosure of mega-contributions and transfers that now evade public scrutiny, and overturning Citizens United, which set the stage for a Wild West of outsized contributions and spending. Her support for a constitutional amendment to accomplish the latter is a pipedream and probably wouldn’t work if it were adopted. As she acknowledges, appointing Supreme Court justices to change the current 5-4 majority is the more promising route to the desired change. […]

    … this particular agenda will be achieved only if and when Democrats manage to control both ends of Pennsylvania long enough to put the policies and a sympathetic Supreme Court in place.

  4. JanF
    September 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Charlie Pierce asks: What exactly is the Hillary Clinton email “scandal” about?”

    This, I think: “Or is it about the NYT being pissed that, somehow, they never brought down a Clinton. Why do people laugh at their mighty sword?”

    • JanF
      September 9, 2015 at 5:48 pm


      “… the devastating breach of trust that the server incident represents, most of which consists of it having been a thing done while being Hillary Clinton.”

      “Republicans who have been demanding an apology are expected to say, ‘Well, thank you, we are now satisfied that you have met this arbitrary benchmark of regret. Now admit that you committed murder at Benghazi.'”

  5. JanF
    September 9, 2015 at 7:20 pm


    “Broadcast evening news programs entirely ignored Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign finance reform proposal, instead continuing to focus on speculation about Clinton’s email use and poll numbers.”

    I am sure that tonight they will cover “Apologygate” (pundits unhappy that the apology did not come sooner – which is unfixable, by the way) instead of the Iran speech.

    The dumbing down of America is being facilitated by the gotcha press.

    • Portlaw
      September 9, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      Well they didn’t cover Sanders’ campaign finance proposals last month either. It’s not a topic they find interesting.

      • JanF
        September 9, 2015 at 8:56 pm

        Exactly! I can’t remember when the “horse race” dominated the news to the extent that it has this year. This is when policies and positions are shared and instead we have personalities and polls.

        The outrage du jour leads – it is the Trumpetization of politics, click bait, the more vulgar and shocking the better. :(

  6. JanF
    September 10, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Another Thing That Actually Matters: Income Inequality.

    The story that reported about this video had the following lead in: “A day after apologizing for using a private email server, Hillary Clinton released a television ad about her plan to raise the incomes of families, which she called the “defining economic issue of our time.” Because, of course, unless the search engines can find “Clinton email apology” the story might not generate a click and ad revenue!! I hope that the .0001 cents you earned from that ad, TPM, gives you comfort when your reporting contributes to the dumbing down of America and the destruction of our democracy.

  7. Portlaw
    September 10, 2015 at 8:21 am

    So much for the power of the voter and the power of the establishment

    “If party leaders see a scenario next winter where Bernie Sanders has a real chance at the Democratic nomination, I think there’s no question that leaders will reach out to Vice President Biden or Secretary of State Kerry or even Gore about entering the primaries,” said Garnet F. Coleman, a Texas state lawmaker and Democratic national committeeman.

    Even if none of those Democrats were to announce candidacies this fall, some party officials and strategists suggested that Mr. Biden could be laying the groundwork for an 11th-hour rescue mission during the winter primaries if Mrs. Clinton’s campaign began to implode. Similarly, Mr. Kerry’s friends say they believe he would hear out party leaders if Mr. Sanders appeared likely to capture the nomination and they implored Mr. Kerry, who would have to resign as secretary of state, to try to block him.

    The interest in senior statesmen and stateswomen is partly a reflection of the thin Democratic bench after widespread losses in races for governor, Senate and other offices in 2010 and 2014, which has left the party with relatively few experienced, credible presidential contenders, let alone ones willing to take on Mrs. Clinton. (The paucity of fresh faces even gave rise to a joking Twitter hashtag: #Dukakis2016, offering up the party’s 1988 nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.) bold mine

    • JanF
      September 10, 2015 at 9:08 am

      That is very disrespectful.

      The mainstream media is ignoring Bernie’s candidacy. If I did not have Twitter, I would not even know he was running!

      Apparently someone called out the Times about their coverage and their public editor responded. I did not read it because I like to save my NY Times clicks for the things they do well (which is NOT electoral politics) like Paul Krugman and the international humanitarian stories.

  8. bfitzinAR
    September 10, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Just more of the pseudo-news RWNJ propaganda to divide Dems – and conquer of course. As everyone knows I support Hillary – not “hold my nose and vote” really support her – but I will vote for, donate to, and work for Bernie if he wins the nomination.

  9. JanF
    September 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Reform groups would like the IRS to do its job:

    In a letter sent today to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, reform groups called on the IRS to end the misuse use of nonprofit groups to launder secret contributions into federal elections.

    The reform groups included the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Demand Progress, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, and Sunlight Foundation.

    According to the letter, IRS regulations governing the eligibility of groups for tax status as section 501(c)(4) “social welfare” fail to comply with the tax laws.

    The letter stated that the IRS, for years, has informally acceded to an interpretation of the regulation, without any written explanation or justification, that allows section 501(c)(4) groups to spend up to 49 percent of their expenditures on political intervention, or campaign activities. IRS Commissioner Koskinen also reportedly took this position in recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Of course, the IRS has been demonized by Republicans so anything they attempt to do will be immediately denounced. But the misuse of the tax code by these groups adds insult to injury: not only are they getting away with shoveling dark money into the campaigns of people who want to destroy everything I hold dear but they want me to pay for it (via taxpayer subsidies)!!!

    Another reason we need to focus on taking back Congress as well as retaining the presidency.

  10. JanF
    September 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Los Angeles Times: Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon in campaign finance reform: Shame

    Hillary Rodham Clinton knows her plan to stop big businesses from secretly funneling tranches of cash into politics may not fly with the Supreme Court and Congress, so she has a backup plan: publicly shame the companies.

    Clinton is embracing one of the few effective tactics for loosening the grip on big money in politics. The plan she announced Tuesday to force publicly traded companies to disclose all political giving comes as a growing chorus of academics and activists are finding new ways to expose companies that hide their political maneuvering.

    Many major companies are responding by coming clean. They are getting out of the game of giving so-called dark money, or funding from nonprofit groups that aren’t required to disclose the sources of their money. In many cases, the donations became a public relations nuisance and even a corporate liability. […]

    Clinton’s announcement comes as the Securities and Exchange Commission is under pressure to do exactly what she is demanding.

    About 1.2 million individuals and groups have commented on a proposal much like Clinton’s. The commission has balked on acting for years amid intense opposition to the proposal from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, which argue it is a ploy to intimidate companies from making their voices heard in government. […]

    “The commission’s inaction is inexplicable,” said a recent comment filed by three former SEC commissioners, including Arthur Levitt, who was chairman of the agency while Bill Clinton was president. “Its failure to act offends not only us, who are alumni of this agency struggling to retain our deep pride of association, but investors and the professionals who serve them.”

    Vanguard Group founder John Bogle urged the commission to go even further than requiring disclosure of corporate giving to political nonprofits. He suggested a rule that would bar companies from giving without the approval of the owners of at least 75% of its stock. […]

    The mandatory disclosure provision may be among the most politically feasible on Clinton’s campaign finance reform agenda.

Comments are closed.