Citizens United Snubbed by Renewed Peoples Pledge
Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown broke all expectations for post-Citizens United elections by voluntarily agreeing to discourage outside spending from SuperPACs and dark money groups in their bids for US Senate last November. Yesterday Congressmen Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey officially renewed the People’s Pledge for this year’s special Senate election. The deal struck by Lynch and Markey took the Warren-Brown Pledge even further. It seeks to prevent direct mail advertising in addition to radio, television, and online ads. Unfortunately, robocalls still remain beyond its purview.
Following the unprecedented success of the Warren-Brown Pledge, Common Cause argued for the special election candidates to strike the same deal. We applaud both Congressmen for heeding to this call, and we will encourage Republican Party candidates to agree to the Pledge’s terms.
The Pledge is one of the only ways currently available to mitigate the undue influence of wealthy special interests in our electoral system. Outside groups, which in the era of Citizens United can take in unlimited political checks, increase negative campaigning and deceptive advertising and facilitate a wave of undisclosed political money flooding our elections much more than candidates themselves do. None of this is good for a healthy democracy.
The Supreme Court may be to blame, but the continuing commitment to the People’s Pledge from candidates like Markey and Lynch shows that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The real answer is to make the Pledge legally binding with a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizen United and allow for reasonable limitations of independent expenditures. We must hold Lynch and Markey, and the rest of Congress, accountable for that permanent solution by urging them to sponsor and work towards a constitutional amendment!