Ken Christensen, CEO of Christensen & Associates Inc., who works in U.S. Congressional Democratic politics, releases a statement regarding overturning the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court Decision
For Immediate Release – July 11, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – Ken Christensen Politics – The following statement is from Ken Christensen and the opinions expressed are his own. I think there is an elephant in the room and it is the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. Because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision congressional candidates are basically no longer effectively in control of their own campaign’s outcome. Outside Super PACs’ spending is throwing an imbalance into the true campaign process. The essence of true campaigning is eroding. This is especially hurting Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress challenging incumbent Republicans and Democracy itself as evidenced by the last two election cycles and recent string of special election losses by Democratic congressional campaigns.
I believe in the current system of how congressional candidates raise money for campaigns. We fight our campaigns with checkbooks, credit cards and limitations on how much a candidate can take from individuals or political action committees. A candidate for U.S. Congress, who does not completely self-fund, must go through the process of connecting with donors and convincing them that they are worth investing in. There are different variables of why a donor may contribute to a candidate like for example having held elective office, being a citizen candidate, highly qualified, experience, service to country, strong campaign message, support on issues important to the donor, shared values, organizational endorsements, running an excellent campaign, relationships, etc. Political fundraising is not an instantaneous process and may take up to one year before a Democratic candidate can raise enough money to be competitive. The Citizens United decision has put a major imbalance into the electoral process because now any wealthy individual can flood millions of dollars into a campaign in a short period of time and most of that campaigning is negative with messages like, for example, “The Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress if elected will raise taxes on Senior Citizens. Senior Citizens cannot afford the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress.” Naturally this could have an impact on Republican candidates for U.S. Congress as well, but all the evidence so far shows the Citizens United decision has impacted Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress the most. The injection of wealthy individuals’ money into Super PACs has effected many Democratic congressional campaigns and that much money injected in the last weeks of a campaign can easily affect a small percentage of votes that can be the difference between winning and losing.
The Citizens United decision has unleveled the playing field for Democratic congressional candidates especially since Democratic congressional candidates can only raise $2,700 per donor versus a wealthy donor who can write a check for example $2,000,000 to impact a close election within the last 30 days of a general election campaign through a Super PAC. I believe in campaigning where grassroots campaigning matters not only thirty-second negative TV commercials from wealthy individuals who fund Super PACs.
The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision has made defeating incumbent Republican Congressmen in enough numbers to take back the House for the Democrats in 2018 or in the near future almost impossible. Naturally the current political climate may change that, hopefully, for the Democratic Party.
Now that political spending is a form of protected speech, as decided by the United States Supreme Court, there should be uniform rules for federal campaigns for candidates, donors, Federal PACs, Super PACs, contributions, spending, transparency, and reporting so it is fair for all concerned. This most likely will not happen.
In conclusion I believe the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision must be overturned to bring fairness and candidate based campaigning back to the political process. I also believe our Democracy must modernize in order to make our Democracy and electoral process fair again. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision certainly does not accomplish that goal.
Ken Christensen is the CEO of Christensen & Associates Inc., a Democratic Washington, DC based firm focused on political strategy, campaign messaging, branding, campaign fundraising, PAC fundraising and voter modeling & targeting services for U.S. Congressional Democratic campaigns.