Reclaiming Our Democracy

In the 2012 elections, the top 32 super PAC donors—giving an average of $9.9 million each, matched the $313 million raised by President Obama and Mitt Romney from all 3.7 million of their small donors.

GET BIG MONEY OUT OF OUR ELECTIONS

Special interest money has long had a corrosive effect on our politics, but in 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a new era of unprecedented spending by a handful of millionaires and corporations on our elections. Since then, we've seen the floodgates opened to waves of big money that threatens to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens in our democracy.

However, we know how to fight back: by building the case — one community, one state, even one corporation at a time — for overturning the entirety of the Citizens United decision through a constitutional amendment.

In the meantime, we're also working on several short-term strategies to stanch the flow of big money in our elections:

Taking the fight directly to corporate political donors (and would-be donors)

We’re partnering with shareholder advocacy groups in pressing corporations such as Target and Bank of America to refrain from spending on political campaigns, and we’re also supporting the Shareholder Protection Act, a bill that would require corporations to seek the explicit approval of shareholders before spending a dime in electoral politics.

Forcing political spending into the light of day

Our researchers have documented the rise of super PACs and other groups funneling secret money into our elections, exposing some of the funding sources for these campaign finance behemoths, but we're also prodding our state and federal lawmakers to implement more thorough disclosure laws.

Amplifying the power of small donors

Encouraging millions of everyday Americans to make small contributions can help counterbalance the influence of special interests in our elections. We are working with federal and state legislators to implement programs like tax credits, campaign vouchers, and matching public funds to create a swell of grassroots funding.

Ultimately, we must amend the Constitution to clarify to the Court that our democratic elections were never intended to be a tool for special interests to drown out the voices of others. California is part of a growing movement of 16 states and more than 400 communities across the country that have called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. But there is more work to be done, more doors to knock on, and more communities to organize to build the momentum it will take to boldly force big money out of our elections.

Issue updates

News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

Bill to allow California Voters to Take a Stand Against Big Money in Politics Passes Out of Key Comittee

California Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee passed SB 1272 (Lieu), a bill to put a voter instruction measure on the 2014 ballot that calls for a constitutional amendment of Citizens United vs FEC

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Reformers in California assail Supreme Court campaign-finance decision

“We’ve seen what’s happening in Sacramento right now with pay-to-play politics. With this decision, the Supreme Court is codifying pay-to-play politics,” said Austin Price, field director for CALPRIG, the California Public Interest Research Group.

The ruling will have no effect on state-level campaigns in California, as the state’s campaign finance law does not limit the aggregate amount any donor can contribute to candidates for state office. The state law, like the federal law, limits the amount donors can contribute to any one candidate, and the court’s decision allows those individual limits to remain in place.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

The Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC decision could add $1 billion from big donors through 2020.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

CALPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

The Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), introduced today, would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors. Seventeen California representatives are original co-sponsors of the bill. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Students Rally Against Citizens United

The California Public Interest Research Group and Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego.) held a rally at Warren Mall on Jan. 21, where they spoke in favor of overturning Citizens United. Representatives from Money out of Politics and Common Cause, two grassroots organizations, were also invited to speak.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

Bill to allow California Voters to Take a Stand Against Big Money in Politics Passes Out of Key Comittee

California Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee passed SB 1272 (Lieu), a bill to put a voter instruction measure on the 2014 ballot that calls for a constitutional amendment of Citizens United vs FEC

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Reformers in California assail Supreme Court campaign-finance decision

“We’ve seen what’s happening in Sacramento right now with pay-to-play politics. With this decision, the Supreme Court is codifying pay-to-play politics,” said Austin Price, field director for CALPRIG, the California Public Interest Research Group.

The ruling will have no effect on state-level campaigns in California, as the state’s campaign finance law does not limit the aggregate amount any donor can contribute to candidates for state office. The state law, like the federal law, limits the amount donors can contribute to any one candidate, and the court’s decision allows those individual limits to remain in place.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

The Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC decision could add $1 billion from big donors through 2020.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

CALPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

The Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), introduced today, would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors. Seventeen California representatives are original co-sponsors of the bill. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Democracy

Students Rally Against Citizens United

The California Public Interest Research Group and Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego.) held a rally at Warren Mall on Jan. 21, where they spoke in favor of overturning Citizens United. Representatives from Money out of Politics and Common Cause, two grassroots organizations, were also invited to speak.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Result | Democracy

CALPIRG Helps Register 40,000 New Voters

In 2012, CALPIRG worked with college campuses across the state to ensure that both online and paper voter registration options were made available to students. Through our outreach, we helped to register more than 40,000 young Californians to vote.

> Keep Reading
Result | Democracy

Legislature Passes Resolution Against Citizens United

More than 50,000 Californians, many of them CALPIRG members, joined our call to put our state on record in opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to a torrent of Super PAC-fueled campaign spending. The California Legislature passed our resolution — joining more than a dozen other states — calling for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United decision.

> Keep Reading
Result | Democracy

Defeating Big Oil’s Ballot Proposition

CALPIRG helped run a campaign that identified 160,000 young voters who pledged to vote No on Prop. 23, the oil industry-funded attack on California’s landmark global warming law. To combat the millions of dollars Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro poured into electioneering, our organizers mobilized young voters — the segment of the electorate most likely to vote against Prop. 23, but most are in need of a reminder to get to the polls.

> Keep Reading
Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Billion-Dollar Democracy

The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to its hype, with unprecedented outside spending from new sources making headlines.

Demos and U.S. PIRG analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission found that our big money system distorts democracy and creates clear winners and losers:

> Keep Reading
Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Democracy

Transparency in City Spending

New Report Compares California Cities to Other Major Cities Across America

> Keep Reading
Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

Million-Dollar Megaphones

New report details latest numbers on outside spending, secret money and Super PAC fundraising for 2012 elections.

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Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

Auctioning Democracy

This appendix provides a detailed look at business funding for Super PACs: top business donors, Super PACs which received the most business money, and amount and number of contributions by state.

> Keep Reading
Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

Auctioning Democracy

Dēmos and U.S. PIRG Education Fund analysis of Federal Election Commission data on Super PACs from their advent in 2010 through the end of 2011 reveals the following:

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Democracy

Coming together, pushing back | Jon Fox

 

Observations from the annual National Conference on Media Reform.

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Blog Post | Democracy

In The Capitol: Removing Barriers To Voting | Pedro Morillas

AB 1436—Establishes an election day registration system in California.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Democracy

In The Capitol: Getting Money Out Of Politics | Pedro Morillas

SB 1426 (Blakeslee)—Bans specified gifts from lobbyist employers to legislators.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Democracy

Why Target Is Still a Target | Pedro Morillas

Two years ago, the public spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in politics when consumers boycotted Target Corporation for controversial political spending in Minnesota’s state elections. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Budget, Consumer Protection, Democracy, Food

Tragedy reinforces need for Homeowners’ Bill of Rights | Jon Fox

Californin man's death is further evidence that big banks have failed consumers.  

> Keep Reading

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You Can Help

We have a chance to curb the unprecedented spending by big money in our elections. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

JOIN THE CALL

Sixteen states and more than 400 communities have gone on record calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Make sure your town joins this growing movement.

Consumer Alerts

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