When discussing campaign finance reform, it is impossible to do so without mentioning the 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. The decision allowed for corporations to be treated as people and allows for special interest groups to contribute money to United States elections. As the corporate money is not possible to trace and does not have the same limits as private citizens, it is a decision that allowed for elections to be bought.
The group leading the charge to overturn this decision is End Citizens United. As of April 2017, the group has amassed more than $4 million for the year, and projects that going into the pivotal 2018 mid-term elections they will raise more than $35 million. This is a dramatic increase from the $25 million raised for the 2016 election cycle, which was the group’s first election season since being founded.
Over 40,000 people contributed for their first time to any Political Action Committee as part of the overall estimated 100,000 contributors to End Citizens United. With average giving around $12 per person, it is truly a grass roots effort for citizens to impact the way in which their government is run.
Tiffany Muller, the president and executive director of End Citizen’s United, states the group is focusing on helping champions of campaign-finance reform win elections in the House and Senate. She also states the primary reason most donors cite for giving is they feel the current political system to be unfairly biased against them, and that those “who can write the biggest checks get the biggest say. This is their way of fighting back.”
The Trump victory was a blow which the PAC is working to fight against. A recent benefactor of End Citizens United work is Democrat Candidate Jon Ossoff, running in his first election for a Georgia congressional seat. Ossoff surprised many political pundits by raising over $4 million in his campaign to win the April 18 special election to fill a then-Republican House seat in an Atlanta-based district recently left vacant by Tom Price accepting the position of Health and Human Services Secretary.
The group is also planning to back 2018 elections for Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana. Operating as a traditional Political Action Committee (instead of a Super PAC), the group is limited to receiving a maximum of $5000 per donor; End Citizens United ability to achieve the amount of fundraising it has accomplished has sparked renewed interest among other grassroots organizations devoted to campaign finance reform.