End Citizens United: Senator Whitehouse pledges to reject corporate PAC money

Sheldon Whitehouse
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End Citizens United (ECU) praised Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today for his decision to reject corporate PAC money. Whitehouse is one of just seven sitting senators to take this position as an unprecedented number of candidates and an increasing number of members are refusing to take money from corporate PACs.

“There is perhaps no greater champion in the fight against Big Money than Senator Sheldon Whitehouse,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “Throughout his career, Whitehouse has fought to unrig the system and today he took his commitment one step further by pledging to reject corporate PAC money. End Citizens United applauds Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and we are proud to stand with him as we fight to take back our democracy from the special interests.”

In rejecting corporate PAC money, Whitehouse joins Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Maria Cantwell (WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Cory Booker (NJ), and Kamala Harris (CA) as well as eight members of the House of Representatives. In total, ECU is aware of more than 140 no corporate PAC candidates this cycle, as reported in USA Today recently.

Throughout his career, says ECU, Whitehouse has lead the way in the fight to increase transparency and accountability in our elections. He has introduced the DISCLOSE Act to require dark money groups to reveal their donors’ identities and endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. In addition, Whitehouse has pressured federal agencies like the SEC, FEC, FCC, and IRS to enforce the law and to take action against secretive political spending. In his most recent book, Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy, Whitehouse details how the corporate special interests have created a rigged system in Congress to advance their agenda.

End Citizens United is dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics and fixing the rigged system in Washington so it works for all Americans. It is working to elect members of Congress, like Sen. Whitehouse, who will fight to overturn Citizens United and pass meaningful reforms. ECU has over four million members, including over 12,000 in Rhode Island, and is entirely grassroots-funded with an average donation of just $14.

[From a press release]

Whitehouse writes, in a campaign email:

Some time ago, I was asked at a community meeting why I accepted corporate PAC money. That question stuck in my mind. I told the young man who asked the question that I’d think about it, and I have. I’ve mulled on it for some time and come to a decision.

I don’t want to say that there is anything wrong with accepting corporate PAC money. It is reported, limited and transparent. The real problem in our country’s politics is the unlimited money and the dark money that has swamped our politics since Citizens United. My brain understands that reported, limited, transparent corporate PAC money is not the real corporate influence problem.

But the question stuck not just in my mind, but in my heart. No one in the Senate battles harder against dark money and corporate influence than I do. I’ve even written a book on it. I see that influence behind the Kavanaugh nomination, and guiding the horrible tax bill, and in Republican inaction on climate, and as the reason for Congress’s failure to rein in Pharma prices, and on, and on.

My heart tells me I should stop.

So I told my team I’ve taken my last corporate PAC contribution. I’m going to count on my support from people like you. If you think this is a good or bad idea, please let me know.


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