Today Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to discuss the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and its impact on campaign financing. Below is the transcript of Congressman Van Hollen’s remarks:
“Thank you Chuck.
“I am very pleased to be here with my friend and colleague Chuck Schumer and look forward to working with him to make sure we do everything possible to make sure that this decision does not stand.
“This is a very, very sad day for American democracy and this is a very radical, radical decision that came out of the Supreme Court of the United States – a court that said they respected precedent.
“This throws out decades of precedent designed to protect the citizens and the integrity of our political process against big money special interests. It will open the floodgate, if left unchecked and unchallenged, to more and more special interest money, big corporation money, at a time, as my colleague Senator Schumer said, we need to be reducing the amount of influence of special interest money.
“This takes us in the exact opposition direction from where America wants to go. It will allow the biggest corporations of the United States to engage in the buying and selling of elections. If you look at the staggering figures of the Fortune 100 companies and the revenues they have and the profits that they can now unleash directly in these elections has the potential to totally upend our system and corrupt the process in a way that I think should alarm every American citizen.
“Just think of some hypotheticals, and as my colleague said we are still going through the court decision, but imagine AIG, that just received [billions] of dollars of tax payer money, being able to turn around spending money to advertise against people who didn’t want to provide them support or disagreed with the AIG agenda.
“Think about the biggest firms on Wall Street, at a time when we are trying to hold them accountable, being able to take money and defeat those who call greater for transparency and accountability on Wall Street.
“Think about corporations, U.S. corporations, whose main financial interests and majority profits come from investments in places like China and other places around the world, and where their profit margins are attached not to how America is doing and how well American citizens are doing but how others in other countries are doing, and having them spend money in our elections here to influence and benefit their profits against the interests of American citizens.
“This is a scandalous decision. This is a decision that equates, for the purposes of expending monies in elections, says that corporations equal individuals. I think it is an un-American decision and think that when the American people understand what this radical decision has meant, they will be even more furious and concerned about special interest influence in politics than they are today.
“So I look forward to working with Senator Schumer to explore every option to make sure that we do not turn back the clock on decades of precedent that was designed to prevent big corporation special interests from corrupting the political process.”