As the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments Tuesday on a case that could lift limits on political donations, advocates of campaign finance reform rallied at the Capitol and called on state lawmakers to weigh in on the issue.
WISPIRG director Bruce Speight joined a broad coalition of groups, called the “Money Out, Voters In coalition,” who want the state Legislature to place a referendum on a statewide ballot. The measure would be an advisory referendum on whether Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation should support a U.S. Constitutional amendment that would overturn the controversial Citizens United decision.
Citizens United is the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to corporate spending on campaign advertising. Opponents of the decision say it has opened the floodgates for special interest spending in elections here in Wisconsin and across the nation.
AUDIO: Bruce Speight, WISPIRG (:16)
Speight says a case currently before the Supreme Court could expand those limits even further. The high court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in McChutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Speight says “if the court rules with Shaun McChutcheon, the Alabama millionaire who is bringing the case forward, then there would no longer be a $123,000 aggregate campaign limit. Wealthy donors could spend unlimited amounts of money on elected officials.”
The case would not remove individual limits, but those donors could spread their money across a wide array of races. Speight says that threatens to silence millions of Americans, by “giving an even bigger megaphone to wealthy donors.”