Setting it Straight: Hard-Hitting Campaign Facts Given at Senate Hearing

By Neil Heckman

Who funds our elections these days?  If you go by the numbers, once again, it’s the 1 percent.

Senate Hearing Petition Drop
Photo By Calvin Sloan

At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this past Tuesday titled, “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs,” former governor of Louisiana and recent presidential candidate Charles “Buddy” Roemer made this very point during his testimony before the committee. According to the figures he provided, fewer than 1 percent of American citizens give 99 percent of total political campaign contributions made.

Those who’ve been experiencing the sweltering 100-degree days in Washington, D.C., this summer might attribute the heat to D.C.’s swampy nature, or even to climate change. But it’s entirely possible that it’s the unchecked campaign spending like this by corporations and the 1 percent that we’re seeing this election season that is making people’s temperatures rise, if not making their blood boil.

That’s why Public Citizen, through its Democracy Is For People campaign, is one of many groups fighting to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.


It’s a campaign that is ablaze with grassroots energy, as last Tuesday’s hearing demonstrated.

At the hearing, Public Citizen and its allies presented 1.98 million petition signatures calling for an amendment. The signatures were collected by a wide range of groups from people in every state. The movement for a constitutional amendment has built remarkable momentum, with the passage of resolutions calling for an amendment in 288 cities, towns and localities, and seven state legislatures. It has gained the support of at least 119 members of Congress.