Why I’m Taking the People Not PACs Pledge: Restoring Faith in Our Democracy
Our Democracy is drowning in money. The system is broken and voters have lost faith in our government — with good reason. Their representatives are spending most of their time dialing for dollars.
I should know — I’ve spent a good chunk of my time doing just that, and I’m not even in Congress yet.
Ask just about any voter if they feel that money has had a corrupting influence on our politics and they’ll agree. Anyone would be hard-pressed not to.
There are countless special interests, lobbyists, and other entities trying to influence elections and votes — and there’s a good case to be made that they’re succeeding.
Members of Congress have accepted millions of dollars through PACs in just the last year. Fewer than ten members of Congress did not accept PAC contributions or establish leadership PACs (a kind of fundraising vehicle to accept and disperse even more PAC contributions).
Certainly, in many instances, honest representatives are raising money from anyone who is willing to give in order to win elections and — ultimately — do good work once in office. However, when we spend billions to elect candidates to federal office, and lobbyists are spending billions to influence their votes once they get there, we have a problem.
I understand those who argue that, “yes — the system is rigged, but we have to play by the rules until we can change them.”
However, with our democracy in such dire straits, and so many Americans disillusioned by a pay-to-play political system that has failed them — over, and over, and over again — I can’t help but think: acknowledgement of a broken system is not enough.
If Democrats believe corporations aren’t people (they aren’t), and that PACs have an undue amount of influence in our electoral process (they do), then we need to start walking the walk — not just talking the talk.
That’s why I’m taking a pledge to only accept contributions from people — not PACs. If elected to Congress, I will co-sponsor The No PAC Act — legislation that will ban PAC contributions to members of Congress and the establishment of Leadership PACs. I will join the ‘No PAC Money’ Caucus and work to encourage my colleagues to adopt and support strong campaign finance reform measures. I will be refusing any contributions from federal lobbyists — I don’t believe there’s any room for influence-seeking money in our politics.
This isn’t the best or only solution to getting big money out of politics — not by a long shot.
We need to overturn Citizens United, we should codify a ban on contributions from lobbyists to federal candidates and officeholders into law, and we should take steps to bring greater transparency to election spending.
But for right now, I feel pretty good about saying that I’m going to run a campaign powered by people — not PACs.
Part of the reason I decided to run for Congress was to turn a new page in our politics. If we want to do that, we need to restore public faith in our democracy. This is one step in the right direction.
I want voters to know that any contributions made to my campaign are made solely by friends and neighbors who are supporting the values, ideas and mission of this campaign.
We’ve seen what happens when demagogues like Donald Trump leverage fear and distrust of the political process to come to power.
It’s time that we elect leaders who will restore confidence in government. More Americans than ever before are disillusioned with the political process — they have a right to be — but we can change that. I’m ready to start.