Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior senator since 2009, has joined with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in her promise to not take corporate PAC money. To my knowledge, only Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, Ro Khanna of the Southeast San Francisco Bay, Jared Polis of Boulder, Colorado, and three others are the only House members not accepting PAC money.
[They are: Rooney,
Francis FL 19 (R) Khanna,
CA 17 (D)
Polis, Jared CO 2 (D) Sarbanes, John MD 3 (D)
Roe, Phil TN 1 (R) O'Rourke, Beto TX 16 (D)
(In Congressman Beto O'Rourke's Texas US Senate race against Ted Cruz, when Texans are told that he doesn't accept PAC money, the poll takers report that his approval rating goes way up.)
According to Tuesday's Observer:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she will no longer accept donations from corporate PACs--a sign that she is positioning herself as a more progressive candidate amid rumors she may run for president in 2020. Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, made the pledge to End Citizens United, a political action committee (PAC) that supports Democrats in key races who seek to reform the campaign finance system. The pledge will be applied to her Senate campaign as well as her PAC, Off the Sidelines, according to BuzzFeed.
"Because of the corrosive effect of corporate money in politics, I've decided from this point on, I'm no longer accepting corporate PAC checks into my campaign," Gillibrand said in a video posted on her Twitter page on Tuesday afternoon. She said she became "so concerned" about money in politics because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which allows corporations, unions and nonprofits to spend freely on elections as long as they do not collaborate with campaigns.
Gillibrand explained, corporations can spend an unlimited amount of money "that isn't even disclosed," noting that since she was first elected in 2006 as a congresswoman in upstate New York--a position she held from 2007 to 2009--she has worked to create more transparency and accountability in Congress.
"I was the first member of Congress to actually post my schedule, my earmark requests and my financial disclosure online, and I've since added to that my taxes, so I Hope you will stand with me. We really need to make every effort we can to get rid of the corporate money and dark money that is flowing into politics, and my effort to ban corporate PAC checks is just a first step in that direction."
As reported today as breaking news in the Washington Examiner:
According to Open Secrets, which tracks campaign contributions, the Democratic senator accepted $4.9 million from business PACs from 2005-2018. Gillibrand said her worry about corporate money in politics stems from the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which found the government cannot restrict political contributions from corporations.
BuzzFeed News broke this story, reporting that:
According to End Citizens United, about 70 candidates running in 2018 races -- most of them challengers in House races -- have declined to take corporate PAC money. The figure marks a significant uptick since 2016, when only three top-tier House candidates, designated "Red to Blue" candidates by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, made similar pledges.
"This is a national trend that we're seeing," said Muller, the group's president. "The reason that they're all doing this and campaigning on the issue is they see how much voters feel shut out of the system -- like their voice is drowned out."
In 2016, End Citizens United did not endorse Hillary Clinton until after the Democratic primary. Speaking by phone, Muller praised Clinton for her platform on campaign finance as the "most progressive plan on the issue that we'd ever seen" -- with goals to overturn the Citizens United decision, increase disclosure laws, and create a federal system to match small-dollar donations in presidential and congressional elections. Still, Clinton's campaign accepted thousands of dollars from corporate PACs. Ahead of the midterm elections, 18 candidates have taken End Citizen United's No Corporate PAC pledge, including high-profile challengers such as Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democrat running against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, and Randy Bryce, running against House Speaker Paul Ryan in his Wisconsin home district. So far, the group has endorsed a total of 114 candidates.