July 23, 2015

Udall Objects to GOP Rider on Appropriations Bill Gutting Campaign Finance Protections

Republicans block Udall amendment to strip coordinated spending loophole from Financial Services and General Government Funding bill

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall stood up for campaign finance protections by objecting to an effort to roll back longstanding limits on coordinated spending between political parties and candidates. During the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the fiscal year 2016 spending bill for Financial Services and General Government, Udall led an amendment to strip a provision that would gut current spending limits on coordinated expenditures by political parties.

"The American people are sick and tired of big money in politics. It is a major reason that public approval of Congress is so low," Udall said. "They do not see us working for the vast majority of people, but instead see big money exerting most of the power. People will be shocked to learn that the Senate is trying to eliminate the few rules that are left.

"We should shine a light on the flood of money from the ultra-wealthy flowing into our system of government. Unfortunately, today's bill would only remove one of the few dams left trying to control that flood."

Udall objected to the attempt by Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to insert the controversial rider in the bill, saying removing current limits on coordinated spending would "give candidates significant input into the spending of party committees, which can accept much larger direct contributions than the candidates are allowed to receive for their own campaigns."

Udall's amendment to remove the provision from the bill failed on a party-line voice vote. The bill was passed out of committee 16-14.

Several leading campaign finance reform organizations support Udall's amendment, including the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Issue One, League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Rootstrikers, and U.S. PIRG.

"Our organizations strongly oppose the McConnell rider inserted into the Senate Financial Services Appropriations bill, which would seriously undermine longstanding campaign finance provisions that limit spending by parties coordinated with candidates," the organizations wrote in a letter today to Senate Appropriations Committee members. "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked for years efforts in the Senate to repair the nation's campaign finance laws. Now, Senator McConnell wants to enact his own campaign finance provision that would further undermine the campaign finance laws."

Udall is the lead sponsor of a constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United decision, which fatally undermined Congress' ability to enact common-sense campaign finance laws and opened the doors for vast, secretive government influence by corporations and wealthy individuals. Udall's amendment was supported by a majority of the U.S. Senate in 2014. He also is a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which would crack down on so-called "dark money" by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner. Republicans have repeatedly filibustered previous attempts to pass this common-sense bill.