Saturday, June 25, 2011

Democrats in Congress Fighting Back Against Citizens United

MeanMesa is sharing this letter from NM (D) Congressman Martin Heinrich.  MeanMesa visitors know what I think about the Citizens United Supreme Court Corporate "Loop Hole."  Here's some news from someone who matters!

June 24, 2011

Dear MeanMesa,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission.  I appreciate knowing your thoughts and concerns on this important issue. 

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC invalidated two provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).  It struck down the longstanding prohibition on corporations using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures, and Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), which prohibited corporations and labor unions from using general treasury funds for "electioneering communications." The Court determined that these restrictions constitute a "ban on speech" in violation of the First Amendment. 

At this critical moment in our nation's history, Members of Congress must dedicate every available moment toward solving our nation's challenges.  Our leaders must have the trust of the American people that their decisions will benefit all Americans, not just the wealthy.

Therefore, I am committed to supporting effective legislative responses to the Citizens United v FEC decision, and I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 5175 and of H.J. Res 74.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) introduced H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase transparency of political expenditures by enacting tough disclosure requirements for corporations.  This legislation requires campaign related commercials to feature the company's chief executive officer or highest-ranking officer to appear on camera to say that he or she "approves this message," just as political candidates must do under current law.  The FEC would release disclosure forms for corporations and labor organizations on campaign-related spending.  Restrictions in this legislation will ensure that foreign companies do not influence our country's elections through unregulated spending.  Finally, it prohibits institutions that received funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (P.L. 110-343) from spending these funds in elections. H.R. 5175 passed the House of Representatives on June 24, 2010, by a vote of 219 to 206. 

H.J.Res 74 amends the Constitution to permit Congress and the states to regulate the spending of funds by corporations engaging in political speech. H.J.Res 74 would overrule the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC and would help remove corporate influence from our country's political system. 

You may also be pleased to know that I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 1826, the Fair Elections Now Act.  H.R. 1826 would help restore public confidence in the congressional election process by providing qualified candidates for Congress with grants, matching funds, and vouchers from the Fair Elections Fund to replace campaign fundraising that largely relies on large donors and special interests.  In return, participating candidates would agree to limit their campaign spending to the amounts raised from small dollar donors plus the amounts provided from the Fund.

This voluntary alternative would free participating candidates from the incessant, time-consuming money chase that has tainted public perceptions of elected officials and that has fostered abuses that can undermine our democracy.  H.R. 1826 would allow our leaders to focus on finding solutions to the challenges that all Americans face.

Every two years a new Congress begins and all pending legislation must be reintroduced.  H.R. 1826 and H.J.Res. 74 were introduced in the 111th Congress and have not yet been reintroduced in the 112th Congress.  Rest assured, I remain a strong supporter of public financing, and I will continue to advocate for a political system that allows individuals to contribute and removes the influence of unaccountable corporations. 

As you know, the best ideas do not come from Washington but from thoughtful, caring people like you who take the time to participate in government and the democratic process.  Please rest assured I will keep your thoughts and ideas in mind as I vote on legislation.  I hope you will continue contacting me with your ideas and let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your family. 

Again, thank you for contacting me.  For more information and additional details about legislation, please visit my website,  While you are there, you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on my work in Congress. 

As always, I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you.


Martin Heinrich
Member of Congress

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