Friday, January 15, 2016

Public Wants Campaign Spending By Outside Groups Limited

Thanks to a misguided Supreme Court decision (Citizens United vs. FEC), outside groups (groups not specifically connected to any individual candidate's campaign) can collect and spend an unlimited amount of money to support a candidate's campaign -- and they are spending a record amount of money in this electoral season (much of the money donated in secret).

This gives the rich a much bigger voice in electoral support than small donors, and while elected Republicans are the ones who have blocked attempts to limit this money, all candidates are being supported by outside groups (such as superPAC's) -- including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

It can be debated just how effective this unlimited spending has been so far in the 2016 campaign. The candidate with the most outside spending support, Jeb Bush, has seen his chances of election go down the tubes. But the perception of the general public is that this unlimited (and largely secret) spending is a bad thing.

A recent YouGov Poll (done between December 30th and January 6th of a random national sample of 2,000 adults, with a 2.8 point margin of error) shows a clear and significant majority of the public would like to see this spending by outside groups limited by law. They don't like even the perception that the rich (and interest groups) could buy the election -- and put the candidates of their choice in government (especially the White House).

And this is not just the belief of one or two demographic groups. It has between 50% and 67% support among all groups -- regardless of sex, age, race, political party, or income level.

It is time for Congress to recognize the will of the people, and put limits on this outside spending -- even if it has to do so with a constitutional amendment. Our national elections must be perceived as genuinely reflecting the will of the electorate, without undue influence from monied interests.

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