We need to get dark money out of politics, and that’s why I’m calling on all of my fellow Democratic candidates to join me in signing the People’s Pledge.
Almost all of the dysfunction in our political system can be traced to a single issue: the corrupting influence of money in politics. And that reality has only worsened after the disastrous Citizens United decision from the Supreme Court—a ruling which effectively allows unlimited interference in our elections by outside groups, corporations and billionaires through super PACs.
To protect our democracy, we need campaign finance reform, and I’ve put my position clearly on my website:
“I strongly support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and I will fight for publicly financed elections, eliminating money from politics and complete transparency for all political contributions.” — Bryan Caforio, BryanCaforio.com.
My fellow Democratic candidates in this race have also rightly condemned the Citizens United decision and the influence of outside money in politics:
“Supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United isn’t enough—we need to elect people who are willing to regulate themselves as representatives and stand up to the people who hold the purse strings.” – Katie Hill, Blue America, May 20, 2017.
“I’m running a grassroots campaign, and I’ll be working to overturn Citizens United and make publicly-funded elections a reality. Corporate money is why our political world is such a mess now.” – Jess Phoenix, Twitter, January 18, 2018.
In order to promote our shared goal of decreasing the impact of dark money in our electoral process, I’m calling on every Democratic candidate in this race to sign the People’s Pledge.
The People’s Pledge originated in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race between now-Senator Elizabeth Warren and her Republican opponent Scott Brown, and has since been used and proposed by numerous progressive candidates across the country to protect our democracy, including Eric Garcetti when he first ran for Mayor of Los Angeles, Russ Feingold when he ran for Senate in Wisconsin, and many others.
Here’s how the People’s Pledge works: if all Democratic candidates sign the People’s Pledge, and if any group—other than an individual candidate’s designated campaign committee—makes an independent expenditure on a candidate’s behalf, then that candidate shall make an equal contribution from his or her own campaign committee to the charity of the other candidate’s choice.
In other words, if both Katie Hill and Jess Phoenix join me in signing the People’s Pledge, and an outside group spends money on my behalf or in opposition to one of my Democratic opponents, then I will instruct my individual campaign committee to donate an equal contribution to the charity designated by the other Democratic candidate, instead of spending those resources on my campaign.
Similarly, if all candidates sign the Pledge, and an outside group makes an independent expenditure in support of Katie Hill or Jess Phoenix, or against me, then Katie Hill or Jess Phoenix must make an equal contribution from her campaign committee to my designated charity, instead of spending their resources on their own campaign. I’m designating Valley Oasis as my charity of choice for the People’s Pledge—it’s a fabulous organization that provides services to homeless individuals and victims of domestic abuse in the Antelope Valley.
Every Democratic candidate has spoken in favor of campaign finance reform, criticized Citizens United, and called for an end to outside spending. I agree with Katie Hill’s statement that “we need to elect people who are willing to regulate themselves”—that’s why I’m signing the People’s Pledge. I sincerely hope Katie Hill and Jess Phoenix sign the People’s Pledge with me so that our actions match our campaign promises.
Bryan Caforio is a Democratic candidate for California’s 25th Congressional District and a consumer rights attorney who lives in Santa Clarita.