WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) spoke on the House Floor in favor of the Democracy For All Act (H.J. Res. 119), a Constitutional amendment authorizing Congress and states to regulate campaign finance. Yarmuth is a cosponsor of the legislation.
Recent Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon have allowed for unprecedented corporate and special-interest spending on campaigns. That, along with weak and inadequate federal disclosure rules, has led to more divisive and expensive campaigns.
The Senate race in Kentucky alone is expected to generate as much as $100 million in campaign and outside spending. Meanwhile, a recent analysis by the Center for Public Integrity showed that Kentuckians have already been exposed to more than 37,000 political television ads for that race alone.
The last thing Congress needs is more special-interest candidates who don't answer to the American people. The Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon have opened the floodgates of unlimited spending on campaigns. Protections against special-interest influence on our elections have steadily eroded - along with public confidence in government.
The result is campaigns dominated not by ideas, thoughtful debates, or visions for the future, but by television ads - mostly negative, and mostly funded by unaccountable outside groups.
In my state of Kentucky, Mitch McConnell and his special-interest allies have spent more than $8 million running nearly 26,000 TV ads in our Commonwealth. The vast majority are from outside groups attacking Mr. McConnell's opponents. Many bend the truth and intentionally mislead Kentuckians, which is a lot easier to get away with if the attacker isn't accountable to voters.
Under our current political system, these groups are allowed massive influence over our campaigns - much more than any average citizen or groups of citizens could ever exert. It is a system is riddled with loopholes, lacking meaningful disclosure, and more awash in corporate influence than ever.
In Kentucky, Mr. McConnell's race is expected to cost $100 million. That would pay the annual salaries of about 2,000 public school teachers in our Commonwealth.
And while Sen. McConnell and other supporters of the Citizens United decision call this freedom of speech, it's actually the freedom to deceive. To be fair, dishonest ads are coming from both sides by both parties. These are ads made possible by Citizens United.
And if the Washington Post Fact Checker actually had to present real Pinocchios for all the dishonest ads made possible by Citizens United, Geppetto would be the busiest man in America.
That's why we need to pass the Democracy For All amendment, to put a stop to this runaway special-interest spending on campaigns and return Congress to the people it was meant to serve.