The number of candidates running for Congress in the 2018 midterm election who have pledged to take no PAC money or big money from corporations are not many — but they are a significant and growing wave that may be critical to the future of America.
Getting these candidates elected is the driving goal of a grassroots political group that has vowed to reform the badly broken U.S. campaign finance system. End Citizens United was formed in 2015. It’s a different kind of PAC — one that rejects major donations from cash-bloated corporations or greedy billionaires.
End Citizens United has identified key candidates who support the mission of getting Big Money and Dark Money out of politics. The group has raised $35 million in small donations (average just $14 each) from individual American citizens. It uses that money to financially bolster the campaigns of candidates they endorse.
One of those endorsements includes Andy Kim who is running for Congress in new Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. Kim is a Rhodes Scholar and former diplomat under the Obama Administration. He holds a doctorate degree in international relations from Oxford University. He was born and raised in New Jersey.
Kim has sworn off taking any big donations from PACs or any other special interests. Campaign finance reform is a central element of his political motivation for seeking a seat in Congress.
Another significant End Citizens United endorsement is for former CIA agent Elissa Slotkin. She’s running for Congress in Michigan’s 8th District. She is facing off against incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop. Bishop has been named to End Citizen United’s infamous “Big Money 20” list — politicians who have displayed the most egregious history of flouting campaign finance rules and taking big cash in exchange for influence.
A race with huge national implications is that for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas, currently held by Sen. Ted Cruz, also one of the Big Money 20.
Running against Cruz is Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat currently serving as Congressman for the Texas 16th District. O’Rourke has a sterling record of running clean campaigns free of corporate cash and other interests. Sen. Cruz, on the other hand, is so connected with wealthy corporations and special interest groups, such as the NRA, it’s difficult to know who he truly represents.
End Citizens United has endorsed dozens of other candidates in races across the nation. Who they have endorsed and the Big Money 20 list are posted on their website, http://endcitizensunited.org.
Betsy DeVos is an American business lady and the United States Secretary of Education of the Republican party. She is from Holland, Michigan. Her father was Edgar Prince, an industrialist, and a founder of Prince Corporation, an automobile parts supplier. DeVos graduated from Calvin College in Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business economics. She has been a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Mars Hill Bible Church, hence is strongly influenced by Christian Democracy.
DeVos is famous with her support for school choice, volunteer programs and support for charter schools. She served as the Republican National Committeewoman from 1992 to 1997 and as the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. She is a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. As a businesswoman, she is the chairwoman of the Windquest Group, co-founded with her husband in 1989, that invest in the manufacturing of clean energy. Betsy is also an investor and board member of Neurocore, a network of centers giving biofeedback therapy for different disorders in order to reprogram brains back to health.
Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, launched the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1989. Being both people of strong belief and faith, their charity is centered on giving for educational, community, art, justice and leadership purposes. To this day, the foundation has given $139 million dollars to charities and organizations. Big amounts have been donated to hospitals, art organizations, Christian schools, Christian missions, and health research. Most of the money given has gone to Christian purposes. Some of the organizations supported by the fund are Michigan’s Pregnancy Resource Center, Baptists for Life, Center for Individual Rights, and the Institute for Justice. Being the great supporters of the arts, Betsy DeVos and her husband have donated for the purpose of teaching arts managers and directors on how to successfully run their cultural institutions.
As a parent, Betsy DeVos knows the importance of education. She has been very active in the educational field and its reform. She is a great supporter and activist for helping students attend charter schools through school vouchers. She has headed the All Children Matter PAC and has served as chairwoman of the Alliance for School of Choice. Both of these promote school vouchers, scholarships for private schools and people who support this endeavor. Millions have been given by the DeVos foundation to fund these organizations. Betsy DeVos and her husband give out an annual scholarship funding for free enterprise and entrepreneurs programs to students earning a BBA or BBA/MBA from the Northwood University. The couple is also a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an organization that strives to give every child the chance to achieve its maximum potential.
For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on Facebook.
On my son’s 18th birthday, he told me that he did not need any presents because he already got the greatest gift of all from the United States Government. He was officially a US citizen! One of the most important rights of being a citizen is involvement in elections. Unfortunately, the power of individual citizens in elections is threatened by big businesses, special interests and lack of transparency in campaign finance.
Beginning The Buy Out
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court heard a case called Citizens United vs. F.E.C. That decision ruined elections for average citizens. This decision virtually eliminated accountability and transparency in campaign finance. The court applied some faulty logic in ruling that “corporations are people” which makes no sense except to ensure that billions of dollars from big business go untraceable into campaign coffers to influence politics. These corporate “citizens” are, first and foremost, interested in making more money. After all, that is the goal of business. However, governing needs to be about more than that. Pursuit of the mighty dollar often contradicts the role of government in protecting “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness“.
What’s the Answer?
Obviously, the easiest solution is to overturn the Citizens United decision. However, that is a short term fix for what is going to be an ongoing problem. There is a PAC called End Citizens United which has a longer term strategy. ECU champions a Constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizens United thus preventing any future similar situations. This solution represents a permanent fix to campaign financing inequities and limits the role of big money in our government.
Making this work is going to take a lot. ECU started by supporting candidates from all parties that support meaningful campaign finance reform. End Citizens United hopes that by working to elect officials that believe in a government by and for the people they can get the law changed. More importantly, electing sympathetic representatives is the first step in getting an amendment to the Constitution putting a permanent stop to buying elections.
How Can I Help?
First, go to the End Citizens United website and see where your state candidates stand on campaign finance reform. The group has a questionnaire that they ask candidates to fill out especially if ECU is going to donate to their campaign. This way you will understand if the person you are supporting is a champion of campaign finance reform.
Second, ask your representatives to support reform. If they don’t already support this type of legislation let them know that you want them to change that.
Third, get involved! Tell your friends and neighbors about the issue. Be brave and bold about your support for meaningful campaign finance reform and bring an end to the buying of elections.