In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, deciding that the First Amendment protects the right of corporations, nonprofit groups, and labor unions to spend directly in political campaigns. This gives corporations and unions the opportunity to influence elections due to the fact that there is no cap on the amount of money they are allowed to spend in political campaigns. As a result of the Supreme Courts ruling, campaign finance reform was killed along with the Federal Election Commission, eradicating any regulation on the amount of money spent in United States elections.
Last Thursday Night Congressman Paul D. Tonko came to Union College in order to discuss the issue of campaign finance reform. He astutely put that “Citizens United has taken away the power of voters and given it to big firms,” promoting the corruption of the electorate. One method of finance reform that the Congressman suggests is the public financing of elections through public finance reform. By letting citizens finance elections, each candidate will have the same amount of funds supporting their campaign, preventing elections from being dictated by money, as well as reducing political corruption. Public finance reform also increases competition in elections because more emphasis will be put on debates rather than electioneering ads and commercials.
Congressman Tonko’s approach of public finance reform is excellent because it eliminates much of the corruption in United States elections. Each candidate in an election is given the same restriction on the amount of funds they are able to gather. Citizens decide how much money they want to donate to each candidate and add that amount to their taxes. In the end, this eliminates financial barriers that inhibit possible candidates from entering an election due to the fact that they do not have enough money to run a competitive campaign. Public finance reform will help end the corruption in United States Democracy that resulted from the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.