Why is the Clean Elections Amendment needed?

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010 legalized unlimited campaign contributions and other election spending on the part of corporations, non-profit associations, and labor unions.  This decision means that it is now unconstitutional to “limit the free speech” of these groups by limiting what they can spend to make their opinions known to the public through advertising.  Since that decision, organizations have poured millions of dollars into the election coffers of all House, Senate, and Presidential candidates.

This decision paved the way for Super PACs, which are “non-profit organizations” into which individuals and groups can anonymously pour billions of dollars in an attempt to sway elections.  Technically, Super PACs can’t contribute directly to campaigns, but the advertising money they pour into elections can tip the balance in a close race.

The purpose of all of these campaign contributions is not only to sway various elections to the donors’ desired results, but more importantly, it creates an unspoken agreement between the candidate and the donor that the issues that are important to the donor will be pushed by the politician in their elected position.  It’s a quid pro quo that siphons billions out of the Federal treasury to benefit these groups.

Organizations like this can also lock in their advantages because as they elect more and more politicians at the state level, they can then redistrict the House seats in their states to benefit their cause.  “Gerrymandering” has been a reality since the founding of the nation, and used by both parties, but it has been fine-tuned in the Super PAC era.

My question is…Is this what we as individual citizens want?  Do we want politicians who are obligated to vote the way their wealthy donors want, instead looking after the needs of the average citizens?   If you are tired of being walked on, of being ignored, of the gap between the rich and poor in this country growing ever greater, then the only solution is an amendment to the Constitution.

Because the Citizens United decision was made by the Supreme Court, it’s no longer possible to pass laws restricting campaign contributions.  The only way to change anything for the better is through a constitutional amendment, which would have precedence over any Supreme Court decision.

I have drafted what I believe to be a legitimate amendment, called the Clean Elections Amendment.  It has only two purposes, to take all private money out of the election process for all Federal campaigns, and to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians.  If passed, this could fundamentally change the election process in the United States, and bring politics back to what I believe the founders intended, a contest of ideas.

As it is, elections are driven by money, not by ideas.  The ideas we think we are voting on are those of the wealthy donors and behind-the-scenes image makers, who use issues  and ideology in their attempt to manipulate us into voting for their candidates.

No one currently in power now wants this to end!  They have the system they want right now!  If we are waiting for someone to come along and turn this around, and rescue us from the domination of the wealthy, we are going to be bitterly disappointed.  There is simply too much power and wealth at stake for anyone to want this to change.  If we want change, we must MAKE them change!  We must FORCE our elected officials to give us back the Democracy bequeathed to us by our Founders!

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This is the proposed Clean Elections Amendment

AMENDMENT XXVII – The Clean Elections Amendment

SECTION I – Campaign Financing

A.      Financing for all campaigns for Federal office (House of Representatives, Senate, and President) shall be administered exclusively by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), from general tax revenue of the United States.

B.      An equal amount of money within each district or state shall be given to all House and Senate candidates meeting eligibility requirements for every election. For Presidential candidates, an equal amount shall be given to all candidates meeting eligibility requirements for every general election.

  1. Equal funding shall be provided within each district or state for all eligible candidates for primary campaigns, in cases of contested nominations.
  2. The FEC may set differing amounts for each district or state, but must disperse equal amounts to all qualified candidates within each district or state.
  3. Funding for all primaries shall not be distributed until 52 weeks before the general election.
  4. Funding for the general election shall not be distributed until all party nominating conventions have declared their candidates.

C.      Funding from all other sources for primary and general elections is prohibited.

  1. Specifically prohibited: Individuals, corporations, unions, non-profit organizations, political parties, political action committees, and all other sources.
  2. Individuals are prohibited from giving or loaning personal funds to their campaigns, or using personal wealth in any way to benefit their candidacy, before or during a campaign.

D.      The FEC shall set the amounts candidates receive in each election and will disperse the funds, audit their use, and collect unused funds at the end of each primary and general election.

  1. Candidates spending more than the legally designated amount shall be required to personally pay a fine imposed by the FEC in the amount of the overage amount and shall immediately forfeit any office or nomination to which they may have been elected. The candidate with the next highest number of votes shall be declared the winner.
  2. Candidates who accept any prohibited contributions shall be required to personally pay a fine imposed by the FEC of the amount of the prohibited contribution, shall immediately forfeit any office or nomination to which they may have been elected, and shall not be eligible to run for any federal office for 10 years. The candidate with the next highest number of votes shall be declared the winner.

E.       Election advertising of any kind by anyone other than the candidate’s election campaign is prohibited. This includes donations of free or unpaid ad space in any medium.

F.   Issues-based advertising by any independent group or individual shall not mention the name or use the face, voice, or likeness of any candidate.

G.   States shall have the right to change their election laws to allow state and local funding for state, county, and municipal elections.

SECTION II – Redistricting

A.      Upon conclusion of each decennial National Census, a temporary Redistricting Commission shall be appointed to conduct redistricting of all Federal congressional districts.

  1. The members of this Commission shall be appointed by the Supreme Court, and it shall be disbanded when the redistricting is completed. No individual may serve on this Commission more than once in their lifetime.  No past or current elected officials may serve on any Redistricting Commission.
  2. County borders should be respected when possible, but all other factors including, but not limited to, voting history, race, or economic status, shall not be considered in establishing new Federal congressional district boundaries.

SECTION III – Direct Election

A.    The President of the United States shall be elected by a majority of the national vote in general elections. In the event that no candidate reaches 50% in a general election, a runoff election with the two candidates receiving the most votes shall take place 4 weeks after the general election.

SECTION IV – Election Weekend

A.    All general elections that include Federal candidates shall be conducted on the first full weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in November, concluding at 6:00 pm local time on Sunday.

SECTION V – Presidential Primaries

A.    During a presidential election year, all states will be grouped into 6 regional primaries, designated by the FEC. All states within a region must be contiguous, except Alaska and Hawaii.

  1. The order of voting by the regional primaries will be determined by random draw. a.  No region may repeat as the first primary in subsequent presidential elections years until all 6 have had the opportunity to go first.
  2. Votes shall be tallied by state.
  3. Political parties may distribute votes for the various candidates toward party nominations in any way they choose.
  4. The first regional primary will be held on the first Saturday of April, the remaining 5 coming every other Saturday thereafter, until all primaries are concluded.

B.    There will be 3 single-state primaries before April 1st, on the third Saturday of February and the first and third Saturdays in March.

  1. These states will be chosen by random draw, but no more than one from any region in a given year.
  2. No state may repeat in a single-state primary in subsequent presidential elections years until all states have had the opportunity to be in a single-state primary.
  3. Order of voting by the 3 primaries is to be determined by random draw.
  4. The three regions that contribute a state to the single-state primaries in one election year may not contribute a state in the next presidential election year
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