End Citizens United is a traditional PAC group who is at the top of the ranks of Democratic affiliated groups that spent money in last year’s elections, despite an individual donor cap of $5,000. Their name derives from a 2010 decision made by the Supreme Court in regards to Citizens United. This decision paved the way for union and corporate entities’ ability to donate to candidate elections and super PACs raising and spending funds with no limits.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has quietly reversed their own policy, thereby allowing funding by special interest groups and lobbyists to go towards legal defense of White House staff being investigated for collusion during the 2016 campaign. This means anyone, even foreign powers, could anonymously donate funds. This will increase the likelihood of conflicts of interest and unethical behavior as the Russia probe moves forward.
These developments are egregious and disrespectful to the American people. The Trump Administration is becoming notorious for fighting against requests for transparency and disclosure, such as Trump refusing to release his tax information and disclosing the contents of the White House Visitors Log. End Citizens United is demanding transparency and full disclosures regarding all donations made to Trump’s aides’ legal defense fund.
The group has been fundraising towards their goal of getting candidates in favor of campaign finance reform elected to Congress. They raised more than $4 million by April of 2017 and expects to raise $35 million before the 2018 midterm elections. They estimate about 100,000 donated during the first quarter, with 40,000 contributing for first time. The average contribution was $12, as those with the capability of giving more are not supportive of their mission and use their dollars to benefit themselves.
End Citizens United has built ties with campaign finance groups and collaborates on occasion to achieve common goals. An example was working with more than two dozen groups in attempts to persuade Republican senators to recuse themselves from voting on Betsy Devos’ nomination as Education secretary. The final vote was 50-50 with Vice President Pence breaking the tie by voting in her favor. Its worth mentioning the Republican senators that End Citizens reached out to were recipients of campaign donations from Devos and her wealthy family.
There is an urgency to raise funds, brought on by Trump being elected and the democrats’ fight against his administration, their agenda and nominees. Contributors recently donated $500,000 to the campaign of Democrat Jon Ossoff in Atlanta, who is trying to fill a Republican House seat previously held by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Ossoff is a 30 year old first time political candidate and managed to raise $4 million on his own for the special election that was held this past April, to the surprise of many in the political establishment. End Citizens United is looking towards the future and contemplating favorable candidates in the upcoming 2018 races; more specifically Democratic senators John Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.