WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Railing against the Koch Brothers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared his support for a constitutional amendment that would reverse a recent Supreme Court ruling and limit campaign contributions.
Taking on the recent Citizens United Supreme Court ruling which rejected aggregate limits on total campaign contributions, Reid argues that such unlimited contributions from corporations and the wealthy has become a political contest for “which billionaires they like best.”
“The Supreme Court has equated money with speech, so the more money, more speech you get, the more influence on democracy,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “What kind of a system is that? It’s wrong. Every American should have the same ability to influence our political system. One American, one vote. That’s what the Constitution guarantees.
“The Supreme Court decision has taken away democratic power from the American voter,” said Reid, adding that fellow lawmakers should “rally behind our democracy,” and that Super PACs “have grown too large.”
Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. introduced the amendment which will be held next month.
Reid said unlimited campaign contributions “drown out the voice of all Americans” in favor of the wealthy.
“The flood of special interest money into our American democracy is ‘one of the glaring threats that our system of government has ever faced,” continued Reid. “Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons,” making reference to the Koch Brothers.
“It’s time that we revive our constituents’ faith in our electoral system, and let them know their voices are being heard.”
The full Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will take place on June 3, Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced, although Senate Republicans are likely to continue to show opposition to the federal move.
Reid himself has taken flak from Republican lawmakers and comedian Jon Stewart for his own “friendly” relationship with billionaire Las Vegas casino magnet Sheldon Adelson. Adelson spent more money than any American history on campaign contributions, with Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records showing that Adelson and his wife spent at least $98 million in the 2012 election cycle.
— Benjamin Fearnow