League of Women Voters Announces New Position on Money in Politics

The League of Women Voters today announced a new position statement on “Money in Politics” and called for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to be restructured as a five-member commission. The FEC is the only civil enforcement agency for federal laws governing money in politics – PACs, Super PACs, dark money, campaign contributions and election spending – and is paralyzed by its current structure. The result is that even the nation’s weak campaign finance laws currently on the books are not enforced.

“Today’s FEC has shown repeatedly that current laws are not effective when they are not enforced. Big money, secret money, is taking over our elections while the FEC sits on its hands. It is time for a change – a big change. The existing bipartisan approach, with each major party having an equal number of commissioners, has led to gridlock. It must be replaced by an enforcement agency with an odd-number of commissioners so the public interest comes before partisan interests,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. 

To address the enforcement problem, the League has endorsed legislation by Senator Tom Udall and Representative David Price that would restructure and rename the FEC as the Federal Election Administration with a five-member commission. Only two members can be from the same political party and the fifth will be appointed on a nonpartisan basis. A system of administrative law judges will have jurisdiction over enforcement matters and can only be overturned by the commissioners for cause.

The new League Money in Politics position comes as a result of a two-year study by its members. The position also calls for:

  • Full public financing of Congressional as well as Presidential elections;
  • Abolishing Super PACs and spending coordinated or directed by candidates, and
  • Restrictions on direct donations and bundling by lobbyists.

In addition to the traditional reason for campaign finance regulation – preventing corruption and undue influence in government – the League now supports several other goals, including:

  • Enhance political equality for all citizens;
  • Protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns;
  • Provide voters sufficient information about candidates and campaign issues to make informed choices;
  • Ensure transparency and the public’s right to know who is using money to influence elections; and
  • Enable candidates to compete equitably for public office.

“League members believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy and our recent study and new position statement on Money in Politics will reenergize and focus their work at every level of government,” MacNamara said. The League of Women Voters has been a leader in seeking campaign finance reform at the state, local, and federal levels for more than four decades, supporting the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 (FECA), working for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), and participating in numerous court cases, including Citizens United v. FEC (2010).

Read the full Money in Politics position.

Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331 or kceballos@lwv.org.

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