Senators Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar push to limit corporate campaign donations

Categories: Congress
franken klobuchar rect.jpg
Minnesota senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar
Next month, a constitutional amendment that would allow states and the federal government to put caps on corporate campaign donations is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate. It has the support of both Al Franken and was hailed by Amy Klobuchar earlier this summer as a way "to restore the right of individual Americans to have their voices heard" over special interests.

If approved, it would overturn the precedents set by two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions -- Citizens United v. F.E.C. and McCutcheon v. F.E.C. -- that allow corporations to spend a limitless amounts of cash to get pols elected. But by all accounts, the Senate amendment -- and its companion in the House -- is also, at least for now, a hopeless cause.

See also:
Lawmakers wanted to reform campaign finance laws this year. So what happened?


Support and opposition for the bills falls squarely along partisan lines. Many in the GOP consider the amendment an attack on free speech and accuse the Dems of hypocrisy. Devin Henry of MinnPost noted in July that "Republicans have called it an election year ploy -- a bill with no chance of passage meant to force them into voting for something potentially politically popular -- and they've strongly opposed the bill."

It wasn't always this way. In a recent piece for the New Yorker, Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian, noted that regulating the flow of money into politics has long been a bipartisan issue. In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt said, "All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law." Two years later, Congress passed the first federal law to ban corporate political donations. However, the regulatory system put in place began to unravel in the 1970s through the courts.

Also in September, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is planning to roll out details for a more comprehensive package of campaign finance reforms. He's calling, among other things, for a shorter campaign season and the prohibition of fundraising while pols are in session. According to MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization, the average House member raised $2,315 a day while the average Senator raised $14,351 between 2011 and 2012.

"The work of Congress suffers because of it," says Steve Johnson, Nolan's communications director. "It frustrates people regardless of the political party."

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse


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14 comments
Aaron Frederickson
Aaron Frederickson

Let's impose limits on union spending just to make things equal.

William Davis
William Davis

Well Shayne O'Neil and Mel UgoFurst, you're wrong. It certainly does pertain to trade unions. Have you considered that they support this because there's no comparison between donations coming from trade unions and donations coming from corporate plutocrats that the GOP is beholden to? Of the top 10 biggest political donors, only one trade union makes the list, the rest are the Koch's and their ilk.

Stefanie Megan Brown
Stefanie Megan Brown

Let s take our balls out even farther and join Vermont in calling for a constitutional amendment to Citizens United......please?

Lee Shaw
Lee Shaw

Some people here need to go move to a right to work state.

Kurt Wasieleski
Kurt Wasieleski

If you don't like paying union dues...get a different job! Most educated jobs are not union!

Kurt Wasieleski
Kurt Wasieleski

Wouldn't this ultimately be like a cap limit in sports....why would you ever disagree? Do some research who spends the most. 10:1 it's not unions?

Matthew Oman
Matthew Oman

I'll bet they still take PAC money...and set up some sort of other loop hole so corporate money can still be taken. There is something magical about being in office that can take anyone...say a poor college professor and turn him into a multi millionaire only 12 years later.

Shayne O'Neil
Shayne O'Neil

"Special interest" is not a term used for unions. With these two supporting the bill, something tells me unions will be exempt.

Tom Bettendorf
Tom Bettendorf

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." Thomas Jefferson he might have been a slave owner , but this makes sense.

William Davis
William Davis

Yes, that's what the term "special interest" mean.

Mel UgoFurst
Mel UgoFurst

Will they push to stop unions from taking our money and contributing to politicians of the UNIONS choice? I have money taken from me for union dues, which I don't mind. However, I absolutely loathe the fact that some of my money is used to fund politicians that I detest and would never voluntarily contribute to.

OlWillyClinton
OlWillyClinton

Calling something an election year ploy, just to get out of voting for it is the most ridiculous reasoning I've ever heard. It's one thing to not support a bill, because it assures you won't be re-elected, as you won't be able to buy your way back into office. It's another lie through your teeth about it. Sickening.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Won't happen until Republicans in this country get some pride.   Mitch McConnell was the latest Republican secretly recorded sucking up to the Koch brothers promising to do everything he can to keep hurting the middle class and poor.   Republicans care more about being hateful bigots than paying attention to the billionaire puppet masters that really run their party.  

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