Bennet: Constitutional Amendment will Bring Sanity Back to our Campaign System

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today welcomed the Senate’s vote to advance a constitutional amendment to restore authority to Congress, individual states, and the American people to regulate campaign finance. Bennet introduced the amendment with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) last summer.

“It’s hard to turn on the television or radio in Colorado these days without hearing a campaign ad bought and paid for by some anonymous group,” Bennet said. “The Supreme Court’s misguided rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon have led to out-of-control spending on ads that are overwhelming the airwaves. The source of this spending is concentrated in a very small group of people whose agenda has nothing to do with the concerns of Colorado families. As a result, the issues debated in Washington are far removed from the ones on the minds of Americans.

“This amendment is about restoring confidence in our democracy and ending this unfettered spending by anonymous donors that overwhelms the rights of individual Americans to be heard,” Bennet added.

So far in the 2014 election cycle, it’s estimated that $74.8 million of the $153.4 million spent on ads in Senate races across the country has come from outside groups. At the end of July in Colorado, the number of political ads aired around the state had quadrupled compared to the same period in 2010.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that in 2012, the top 100 individual donors and their spouses represented just one percent of all individual donors, but they accounted for 67 percent of the donations.

Colorado voters approved Amendment 65 in November 2012, which urged Colorado’s Congressional delegation to support campaign finance reform through a constitutional amendment.

The proposed constitutional amendment:

  • Restores authority to the American people, through Congress and the states, to set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns
  • Allow states to regulate campaign spending at their level;
  • Includes the authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures, like those from Super PACs;
  • Would not dictate any specific policies or regulations, but instead would allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges;
  • Expressly provides that any regulation authorized under the amendment cannot limit the freedom of the press.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

Last Congress, Udall and Bennet led the fight for a similar constitutional amendment, which garnered 25 cosponsors.