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AUDIO: Ten Years After Disastrous Citizens United Ruling, Udall Joins Senators and Advocacy Groups to Discuss Key Democracy Reform Bills

January 15, 2020

AUDIO LINK: https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/imo/media/audio/01152020CUTelepresser.wav

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), along with national pro-democracy organizations People For the American Way, Public Citizen, End Citizens United Action Fund, Democracy 21, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, US PIRG, and Common Cause to highlight the continuing harm caused by the 10-year-old Citizens United ruling and related court decisions, and the growth of a pro-reform movement focusing on the scourge of money in politics.

Udall is the Senate author of the For the People Act, a comprehensive reform bill to fix our broken democracy, and the Democracy for All Amendment, a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. 

In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court barred states and the federal government from putting limits on raising and spending money in elections. The ruling unleashed a flood of corporate dollars in U.S. elections and allows wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts on electoral campaigns. 

“Ten years after the Supreme Court decided in Citizens United to open the floodgates for the wealthy few to drown out the voices of the American people, our democracy is now in crisis,” Udall said. “Because of the stranglehold of big money on our politics, our government is not answering to the will of the people – as Americans grow increasingly frustrated waiting for their elected officials to act on their priorities, like gun violence prevention, climate change, and health care reform. That’s why I introduced the Democracy for All Amendment and the For The People Act with my Democratic colleagues in the Senate—to put the people back in charge. We must end the influence that corporations, the super-wealthy, and foreign interests wield over our elections, and put our democracy back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people.” 

Listen to the audio here.

The full text of Udall’s remarks is below:

2:22 Hello, and thank you Marge Baker for that very nice introduction. It is an honor to work with all of you to defend our democracy, and always nice to work with Senator Shaheen and Represenative Sarbanes.  

2:39 Ten years after Citizens United, our democracy has reached a crisis point. Just look at the ever-increasing amount of secret money flooding our elections.

2:50 The 2020 presidential election is expected to cost anywhere from $8 billion dollars to as much as $10 billion dollars. 

2:56 Much of this campaign money is coming from a very small group of elite political donors. Less than half of 1 percent of Americans now account for nearly three-quarters of all spending.  

3:11 The result is that elected leaders are not responding to the needs of the people.

3:16 And people across the political spectrum are becoming more and more cynical. They are despairing that powerful special interests control our government.

3:26 Why can’t we deliver common-sense policies that the American people want, like quality affordable health care, action on climate change or preventing gun violence? 

3:36 It’s because Citizens United and other court decisions have put our democracy up for auction to the highest bidders.

3:46 We must make bold reforms. Especially if our leaders are expected to regain the public’s trust.

3:54 That’s why I introduced the For The People Act, and the Democracy for All Amendment, in partnership with Senator Shaheen, Congressman Sarbanes, and so many others.

4:07 These measures would end the dominance of big money in politics and put our democracy back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people.

4:15 But Republicans in the Senate have refused to vote on these bills. 

4:19 Senate Republicans must stop their blockade of common-sense democracy reforms.

4:25 Because money does not equal free speech. And corporations are not people.

4:30 We need to continue this hard work, so that we can create a system that works for everyone. Not just the rich and powerful.

4:40 I’d like to thank you all again for being on this call.

4:43 Now I’d like to hand this off to my friend Senator Shaheen, who has been one of the leaders on this issue since day one.

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