Washington, D.C. — There’s plenty of blame to go around for the sorry state of America’s campaign finance system, from the billionaires and corporations seeking to rig the democratic process for their own benefit to the gridlocked Congress and timid federal agencies sitting on the sidelines. Yet none holds a candle to the ideological, out-of-touch majority on the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts. Following another ruling that threatens to further undermine the integrity of our political system, CREW’s voters awarded Chief Justice Roberts the title of Scoundrel of the Month.
Last month, the Court handed down its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, striking down the aggregate limit on contributions made directly to candidates. The ruling frees wealthy individuals to donate even more money directly to candidates and raises the possibility that candidates, using complicated legal maneuvers, could solicit six- or even seven-figure donations from individual donors. In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice Roberts ludicrously dismissed concerns that the dependent relationship candidates develop with their donors creates a potential avenue for corruption.
“Chief Justice Roberts and the other members of the Court’s reckless majority may not understand the corrosive influence of big money on our elections, but voters surely do. While claiming to protect the First Amendment, the Roberts Court has achieved the exact opposite by allowing a wealthy, powerful few to drown out the voices of regular citizens,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said.
The McCutcheon decision followed the Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for corporations and the wealthy to pump unprecedented sums of money into elections. Since then, several proposals have arisen that could mitigate the damage to the democratic process. The Internal Revenue Service could close the loophole that allows tax-exempt groups to spend money on politics without disclosing their donors, while the Securities and Exchange Commission could require publicly traded companies to disclose their political contributions. Congress could shine a light on dark money by passing the DISCLOSE Act.
Nominations are already being accepted for May’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by Friday, May 23rd. Voting will begin the following week.