February 02, 2010

Udall to Propose Constitutional Amendment to Reform Campaign Finance Laws

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, today announced his plans to introduce a constitutional amendment designed to curb the impact of special interests on American political campaigns. The announcement comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down long-standing campaign finance law that limited electoral contributions by corporations.

Udall noted that, with its decision, the Supreme Court has "shown its willingness to rule broadly and ignore longstanding precedent when it is reviewing the constitutionality of campaign finance laws." Udall said the best long-term solution would be a constitutional amendment that would prevent the Court from overturning sensible campaign finance legislation.

"Money can have a corrosive effect on the political process. We've seen evidence of that in campaigns at all levels of government," Udall said. "We have long needed substantive campaign finance reform, and it's my hope that the high court's disappointing decision will provide the push we need to put elections back in the hands of average Americans."

In addition to the constitutional amendment, Udall also will introduce comprehensive reform legislation in the Senate that he co-sponsored during his decade as a member of the House. The legislation, sponsored in the House by Rep. Dave Obey, is called the "Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act." Udall plans to introduce a Senate version in the coming weeks.

"The Act does not attempt to fine-tune the existing congressional campaign finance system or tweak the edges," Udall said. "Rather, it makes fundamental, wholesale changes to fundraising by candidates, regulation of outside groups, and the role of political parties."

The legislation based on the Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act would:

  • Contain a finding that America's faith in the election system has been fundamentally corrupted by big money from outside interest groups.
  • Establish a system of voluntary contributions to provide public financing of campaigns for Senate candidates in general elections.
  • Provide more funds than the current system for the vast majority of challengers to mount their campaigns.
  • Empower voters with the knowledge that their vote affects the outcome of the current election and also affects the amount of funds distributed to nominees in future elections.
  • Ban all independent expenditures so that only the candidate is responsible for his or her message.
  • Provide for expedited consideration of a constitutional amendment allowing these changes if the Supreme Court rejects the plan.
  • Establish a process by which third party candidates can also participate in the system.