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President Jimmy Carter calls Citizens United and today's campaign money "legal bribery"

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By Leslie Salzillo

Former President Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter
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Former President Jimmy Carter is not one to hold back how he feels about the current condition of money in politics. When he ran against Gerald Ford and later Ronald Reagan, he says, "We didn't raise a single penny to fund our campaigns." This morning he told BBC Radio 4's Today program:

"I didn't have any money. Now there is a massive infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns for all the candidates. Some candidates like Trump can put in his own money but others have to be able to raise a $100m to $200m just to get the Republican or Democratic nomination. That's the biggest change in America."

Speaking on Citizens United, President Carter believes the U.S. Constitutional Amendment was the beginning of America's legal bribery.

"The erroneous ruling of the supreme court, where millionaires, billionaires, can put in unlimited amounts of money, give legal bribery the chance to prevail, because all the candidates, whether they are honest or not, or whether they are Democratic or Republican, depend on these massive infusions of money from very rich people in order to have money to campaign."

Last October, President Carter appeared in a candid interview with Oprah, and said if he were to run for president in today's world, he would not be able to afford it.

"We've become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy. I think that's been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards to the American political system that I've ever seen in my life."

President Carter expanded on the issue with Thom Hartmann in July 2015:

"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."

During the BBC interview, President Carter also discussed the work he's done via The Carter Center to help eradicate the plague of Guinea Worm Disease. The Center was co-founded with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1982. Since then, cases of the disease have dropped down from 3 million to only 22 cases now known in the world.

"'As we get closer to zero, each case takes on increasing importance. Full surveillance must continue in the few remaining endemic nations and neighboring countries until no cases remain to ensure the disease does not return,' said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. 'The Carter Center and our partners are committed to seeing that this horrible parasitic disease never afflicts future generations.'"

As for Carter's well-known battle with cancer, he told BBC:

"When I said I had cancer a few years ago, I said I hope I can outlive the last guinea worm ... I'm always optimistic. I've had a terrible illness, that I'm fighting now, possibly successfully, and I still have a good life and we're on the verge of getting rid of guinea worm and that's an encouraging thing."

President Carter continues to to be treated for Cancer, "until the doctor tells me to stop." At 91, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president continued to work as hard or in some cases harder than most lawmakers in office. A great humanitarian and peacemaker with a lifetime of amazing deeds, he has become an American treasure, some would say a world treasure. The public continues to pay tribute to this great man and his remarkable achievements via Facebook page, Honoring Jimmy Carter.

You can also write to the Carters via The Carter Center. We continue to wish President Carter and Mrs. Carter all the best. Mailing address:

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