Former Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold launched Progressives United. Feingold fought for the rights of the underrepresented. Instead of moving to a lucrative lobbying job after he lost his election, he chose to continue fighting for the causes he supports. This time, he is taking on big corporation. Feingold says he wants to hold politicians accountable to people instead of big dollar donors. Ironically, it is probably big corporation that cost him his senate seat. Progressives United will engage in online mobilization, grass roots efforts to support progressives’ issues and fight against the effects of Citizens United. Its PAC will help to fund progressive candidates on the local, state and federal level.
One year ago, on January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which turned our election campaign laws on their heads and overturned almost 100 years of campaign finance law. Unlimited corporate spending to influence elections became the law of our land. And one year later, the results are in, according to a report by Public Citizen.
“The outrageous, misguided and illogical Citizens United decision has empowered corporations and endangered our democracy,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “As our report shows, secretive corporate and billionaire donors exerted an outsized influence over Election 2010. Their spending now casts a pall over all lawmaking, because any members of Congress who challenge corporate interests know they now risk facing a barrage of attack ads in the next election. And all parties agree that 2010 was just a warm-up for 2012. This is no way to run a democracy. That’s why a growing movement is working for passage of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.”
Public Citizens’ report reveals a record $294.2 spending by outside groups on the 2010 midterm election compared to $68.9 million in 2006. That’s a whooping four times more spent on the 2010 midterm election. The 76 page report reflects on the integrity of our political system. Half of the money spent was from 10 sources. Many of those groups had secret sources for the campaign money. Groups that did not provide any information about the source of their money spent $138.5 million. Of 75 close elections that changed hands in the election, 60 were outspent by wide margins of outside money. While many pollsters agree that the party hands in many elections might change due to a variety of factors, it is clear that outside spending contributed to the largest Republican class in 9 decades.
Progressives United and Public Citizen are working in different ways to fight the ill effects of big corporate spending and its effect in our elections and political process. Progressives United promises to reveal the sources of its donors, even if not required by law to do it.