The extremely controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is still being fought by various activist groups including End Citizens United. Much of the fight is taking place in the courtroom. Many historic activist battles have taken place in the court such as Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, and Roe v. Wade in 1973. These and many other historic courtroom battles had effects that are still strongly felt today. Time will tell if the Citizens United case is also the kind of courtroom battle that has effects still felt in 40, 80, even 100 years or more.
The origins of the case are found in 2008 during the Democratic presidential primaries, when the conservative group, Citizens United, aired a film called “Hillary: The Movie” that fiercely attacked the presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Citizens would not reveal the funding source of the film. This became deeply problematic after the Federal Election Commision ruled that the movie was a campaign ad; a federal law states that the funding source for all political ads must be identified. In retaliation, the still adamantly silent Citizens United sued to for the overturning of the FEC ruling.
In the end, the federal court ruled in the favor of FEC, continuing to uphold the ruling. However, that was not the end up the matter, two years later in 2010 Citizens United took the case to the Supreme Court, which made the very controversial decision to overturn the earlier federal court case again Citizens United. Its effects on a very old and accepted regulatory system were huge. It essentially did away with the long-revered ability of the government to limit corporations as far as their influence on elections.
Many instantly recognized this changed everything elections, putting unlimited power into the hands of corporations. In addition, it meant a lot more of every kind of ad during election season. Many Democrats were especially unhappy since the Republican Party has way more corporations and hugely wealthy individuals on their side. Some of these organizations and personalities soon after the decision began putting hundreds of millions into these elections. It is not only politicians and activists who are angered at the decision. The polls indicate that most Americans want there to be limiting as well.
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In April 2017, End Citizens United (USA) announced its House endorsements. The list included candidates who took part in finance reform campaigns in 11 states. These endorsements are expected to help ECU connect the 19 candidates to more than 3 million members. Some of the endorsed candidates include Tom O’Halleran, Pete Aguilar, Peter, DeFazion, Ted, Deutch, Matt Cartwright and Cheri Bustos. The executive director of ECY, Tiffany Muller, believes that American want a transparent government. They don’t want a government filled with leaders who have personal interests. She added that the candidates they endorsed are working to ensure “Big Money” doesn’t run the government.
End Citizens United raised over $825,000 in the Georgia 6th District. The average contribution was $14. The group spent on competitive House and Senate races in the 2016 cycle. This influenced the election of 15 Congress members who included Sen. Catherine Cortez and Sen. Maggie Hassan. The endorsements for the 2018 cycle came after an exciting month for the PAC.
During the first quarter of this year, the group managed to collect over $4 million. ECU announced in April that they intend to raise $35 million through dollar donations. This will be more than the $25 million they raised in the 2016 cycle. Tiffany Muller reported that about 100,000 people contributed to the political action committee during the first three months of this year. She added that ECU’s goal was to elect leaders who champion for finance reforms.
End Citizens United received an average contribution of $12 this year. Muller said that the donors of the group support the fight against a government that’s influenced by those who write the biggest checks. She added that Democrats were “ready to fight back” against President Trump’s agenda as well as his nominees. Recently, ECU has helped raise $500,000 for Jon Ossoff’s campaign. Democrat Ossof has already raised $4 million, which has come as a surprise to most politicians. Tiffany Muller said that the PAC is still figuring out which races they’ll take part in. She hinted that End Citizens United will support Democratic Senators Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown.
The name of the group refers to the Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court, which allows corporate and union donations in elections. The decision also helped establish super political action committees. ECU doesn’t accept donations that exceed $5,000 from a single donor.
End Citizens United has built strong relationships with campaign-finance parties. For instance, they worked with more than 24 groups to discourage Republican senators from voting Betsy DeVos as the Education Secretary of President Trump. Most of these groups had received campaign funds from the DeVos Family. This led to a 50-50 vote. VP Pence was the tiebreaker and voted in DeVos’ favor.
George Soros is often referred to as one of the world’s biggest political donors for the work he completes on behalf of the U.S. Democratic Party; however, the Hungarian born hedge fund expert has actually sat out the majority of elections after his $27 million in funding for the election campaign of Democrat John Kerry in 2004. The return of George Soros in 2016 to major political giving coincided with the nomination of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination after a 25 year political relationship she has shared with George Soros, and resulted in around $25 million in funding for her campaign.
The 2016 Presidential election results may not have gone the way George Soros was hoping as Republican Donald Trump swept to a shocking victory, but George Soros had won major victories with his major backing of state level election Democrat candidates. In a major change of direction George Soros provided around $3.5 million in funding in 2015 and 2016 for state level candidates hoping to gain office as district attorney’s and prosecutors; according to advisors for George Soros the Holocaust survivor made the decision to back candidates at state level in a bid to provide more diversity in law making at state level at http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/george-soros-democratic-convention-226267. Soros and his team of political advisors believe the inequality seen at state level has resulted in African-American and Hispanic groups being prosecuted differently to other groups.
George Soros has always had an eye on how best to help the people of the world in fighting oppression and the rise of extreme right wing conservatism; in the U.S. Soros founded the Democracy Alliance to allow wealthy donors with left leanings to come together and discuss policy with major Democrat figures on opensocietyfoundations.org. Following the election victory of Donald Trump in November 2016 a Democracy Alliance meeting planned for the days after the election took on extra importance for Soros as he decided to attend the three day event and speak about the election campaign and future direction of the party. Not only is George Soros looking to help the Democrat’s return to power starting with the 2017 state level elections on Forbes, he is also looking at how his own involvement in politics is viewed and how best wealthy donors like himself should influence elections and policy in the future.