Established in March 2015, End Citizens United is a PAC that seeks to reform campaign financing that allows unlimited and anonymous corporate spending to influence election results. The controversial Citizens United vs. F.E.C. Supreme Court ruling made corporations people, therefore, they are allowed free speech. The ruling favored Republican candidates; conservative individuals, including the Koch brothers and the Walton family, run many of the largest corporations in the U.S
End Citizens United is not the only group seeking campaign funding reform; the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Political Accountability are active in the fight to control corporate spending for political ads. End Citizens United backs candidates across the country who favor campaign finance reform. Primarily, ECU backs Democratic candidates, however, there are a few Republicans who support ending Citizens United. The PAC’s ultimate goal is a constitutional amendment that limits the right of free speech to people, not corporate entities.
To accomplish their goal of ending unchecked corporate donations, ECU relies on grassroots funding, with donations capped at $5,000. The average donation is just $14. The organization has $35 million to spend in the 2018 elections, which they will use to unseat the Big Money 20 targets. The Big Money 20 targets identified by ECU are Republicans in Congress who oppose campaign finance reform, accept large donations or who backed legislation that would benefit their largest donors. ECU calls these large donations dark money.
ECU is urging candidates that they back to take the No Corporate PAC pledge and resist all corporate PAC donations; End Citizens United will fund them instead. So far, 16 challengers who took the pledge have risen more than their Republican opponent. ECU believes that President Trump’s low approval rating will help make 2018 a good year for Democratic candidates.
One standout challenger ECU backs is Beto O’Rourke, who hopes to upset Ted Cruz in the race for Texas’s 16th Congressional District. In the first quarter of 2018, O’Rourke raised $6.7 million without taking any money from PACs. Another candidate ECU supports is Randy Bryce, who hopes to unseat Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
ECU’s three million members prove that Americans are tired of the wealthy controlling elections. Already, states and cities are passing laws that limit candidate’s spending, creating a level playing field where anyone in a blue collar profession stands a chance of winning a local election on his or her merits.