Common Cause uses cookies to make its websites more user-friendly, to learn more view our privacy policy.

Share

Strengthen disclosure requirements for campaign-related spending by outside groups and corporations so that voters and shareholders can follow-the-money.

The problem: Many wealthy special interest groups are able to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections without having to disclose their donors to voters.

Everyone has a right to know who is trying to influence our views and our representatives.

Through a number of Supreme Court decisions and loopholes in campaign finance laws, some nonprofit organizations and corporations have found ways to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections without the public knowing who is behind the spending.

There are few disclosure requirements for many of these organizations. By enacting strong transparency rules for organizations that can now spend unlimited amounts of money in elections, voters would have a chance to see who is behind the TV commercials and online ads that are not directly affiliated with a candidate’s campaign. The Supreme Court has long upheld laws requiring transparency in political spending despite other rulings that have undermined various other campaign finance laws.

Transparency is key to an informed citizenry. Without strong money in politics disclosure laws, voters are denied their right to know who is trying to influence their votes.

Disclosure is a common sense, bipartisan solution that stops backroom deals and ensures everyone knows when money is changing hands.


Strengthen disclosure rules for all online political advertisements, similar to television, radio, and printed political ads.

The problem: Social media is full of paid political ads, but laws should be strengthened to provide full transparency of who paid for them. Many of the laws governing advertising haven’t been updated to how we advertise in the 21st century, including online.

We deserve to know who is trying to influence our voices and our votes.

But many voters didn’t have that vital information during the 2016 presidential election. Today, we know that millions of voters saw political ads planted by the Russian government on Facebook and other social media sites.

Our democracy relies on a well-informed public — and we need to be able to evaluate the source of information attempting to influence our vote as we decide whether or not to trust it. That’s why, when a spender buys campaign ads, the law requires that they identify themselves in the ad as having paid for it — with similar requirements for TV, radio and print advertising.

We must reform how these rules apply to online political ads. It’s just common sense: whether it’s a big money Super PAC or a deep-pocketed corporate front group controlled by political operatives, the American people should know who is paying for the ads we see online.

Secret money in elections is unacceptable and undemocratic — whether it’s spent for online or offline ads. Congress must act to require full transparency for online ads.


Strengthen laws on foreign spending in American elections to address new loopholes post-Citizens United.

The problem: There are loopholes in our system that can allow foreign money to seep into our elections illegally — including by funneling money to dark money groups.

After foreign entities interfered in our 2016 elections, we must protect ourselves against foreign sources of money that can further erode the integrity of our elections.

At least $650 million in secret campaign spending has influenced the last three federal election cycles. Without new laws to strengthen our disclosure laws, it is harder for voters to follow-the-money, and harder to enforce prohibitions on foreign spending in our elections, through a variety of platforms.

We must restore faith and confidence in our election processes — and assure Americans that foreign actors aren’t spending money in our elections.


Establish a voluntary campaign finance system that amplifies small donations to federal candidates with matching funds, provided that participating candidates agree to lower contribution limits.

The problem: Candidates for public office have to spend far too much time raising money and listening to the wants of big money donors, instead of talking with constituents and voters.

What if people like us could get elected? Regular people—and not just those connected to the wealthy donor class—would have a chance to run and win.

The overwhelming cost of political campaigns means that many potential candidates can’t run without the support of billionaires, special interests, or their own personal wealth, and leads to public officials that are not reflective of the communities they are supposed to represent.

One of the best ways to ensure candidates and elected officials are serving the public and not just wealthy special interests is by ensuring their campaign funds come from small dollar donors.

That’s why citizen funded election programs have been proven to work at the state and local level. In some systems, donations from ordinary voters are matched from a pool of matching funds. In a new Seattle system, people receive $100 in democracy vouchers that they can give to candidates who opt in to the voluntary program. Both systems amplify the voices of small donors and let candidates run and win without relying on wealthy special interests.

Citizen funded elections help break down barriers to participating in our democracy, creating a government that looks more like us and works better for us:

  • More ordinary people are able to run for public office;
  • Candidates spend more time listening to and meeting with their constituents, instead of consistently focusing on raising big money from just a handful of donors;
  • Elected officeholders are reflective of the community at large and share similar values and experiences with voters;
  • Elected officials are less indebted to a narrow set of big money funders, and are more accountable to all voters;
  • Policies and laws are more responsive to public needs and less skewed by wealthy special interests.

States like Connecticut, Maine, and Arizona and cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Albuquerque have already shown these programs work by elevating the voices of ordinary voters in government.


Pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and other court cases that have empowered the wealthy and corporate entities to unduly influence American elections.

The problem: The Citizens United decision allowed unlimited campaign spending from corporations and other artificial entities by overturning decades of law. The ruling has silenced ordinary Americans who can’t write million-dollar checks and throwing our democracy even more out of balance.

We must overturn Citizens United and other cases that have led to this outcome. We deserve a democracy in which each of us is represented and has a voice — and a government that works for every American, not just the wealthy few.

Unfortunately, over the last 50 years the U.S. Supreme Court has issued several bad decisions when it comes to money in politics. Most notably, Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) have brought more imbalance to our political system, giving an outsize voice to wealthy special interests, and eroded our campaign finance laws.

The 2010 Citizens United decision allowed corporations and special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections though outside groups, which gave them a dangerous amount of influence over decisions that should be left to individual voters.

So far, 17 states and numerous cities and counties have passed resolutions instructing Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and allow common sense regulation of political spending. It’s time for our representatives in Congress to listen.

Democracy is on the ballot in 2018.

Sign up for campaign updates and help build a democracy that works for everyone.
Sign up for updates from Common Cause