10/09/19

Sanders Unveils Flawed Campaign Finance Agenda

Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack may be keeping him off the campaign trail for a while, but he is still an active presence in the race for Democratic frontrunner. Just this week, he rolled out a multi-pronged plan designed to limit the influence of money in politics.

State politics are Transparency Texas’ primary focus, but when presidential hopefuls reveal plans that will impact how money can be used by citizens, we’re interested in what those plans could mean. 

Here’s what we know:

The headline on Sanders’ campaign site boasts, “Get Corporate Money Out of Politics.” In addition to ending corporate contributions, Sanders would like to pass mandatory public funding for federal campaigns, overturn Citizens United so that political spending is no longer considered political speech, limit individual contributions to $500, and end spending by 501(c)(4) groups, so-called “dark money.”

Although ambiguous on the particulars, Sanders’ plan would also dismantle the current Federal Election Commission and replace it with a new Federal Election Administration. This agency would be led by an administrative judge with power to impose both civil and criminal penalties.

The Real Impact:

These initiatives may have a noble aim to reduce corruption in politics, but the actual effect is likely to be just the opposite. In our experience tracking the interplay of money and power, giving the government more control as a means to empower citizens is both counter-intuitive and ineffective.

While Sanders may be making the headlines this minute, he is certainly not the only politician with a plan to limit money in politics. In fact, many candidates from both sides of the aisle have called for a variation on these same policies. 

If enacted, this type of government-regulated strategy would have a profound, far-reaching impact on every campaign across the United States. These policies would change the way citizens interact with and hold government officials accountable.

None of this is new. In fact, we’ve previously reported on each of these myths about money in politics. Check out the links above for a more detailed explanation of how each of these policies could impact you.

Want more coverage of money in politics on a national scale? Let us know which policies you’re interested in, and we will follow the money.

Read More Case Studies