The team at End Citizens United has been hard at work over the past two years as they’ve been fighting for and championing campaign finance reform. End Citizens United was established as a response to the catastrophic and disastrous ruling in 2010 surrounding the conservative propaganda group, Citizens United. Citizens United was spearheaded by a lawyer named James Bopp. Bopp argued before the Supreme Court that corporations were people and that donations they made were an extension of their ‘freedom of speech’. Of course, Citizens United was never interested in free speech and instead they were interested in opening the floodgates for political lobbyists to flood into the government. Now, further efforts have been undertaken by conservatives in order to destabilize campaign financing. This time, President Trump and his Republican majority are setting their sights on destroying the Johnson Amendment.
The Johnson Amendment was created in a bipartisan effort by Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B Johnson. The goal of the Johnson Amendment was to put a filter in between religious institutions and their lobbying on behalf of politicians. In short, the Johnson Amendment traded tax-exempt status for churches to not use their pulpit as a political tool to campaign and finance politicians. The Johnson Amendment made its way onto the books in 1954 and since then it has been steadily gaining fire from those on the religious right wing of America’s political spectrum. Donald Trump made the loudest overture toward removing the Johnson Amendment with an executive order earlier this year that told the IRS to stop persecuting churches for breaking the law. The IRS is under no obligation to listen to Trump in this regard, but the latest Republican tax reform proposal puts even more pressure on the Johnson Amendment.
End Citizens United @StopBigMoney announced their #BigMoney20 campaign to defeat 20 GOP incumbents who put special interests ahead of their constituents. Rep. Frelinghuysen’s on the list. Proud to have ECU’s endorsement and support campaign finance reformhttps://t.co/9WIPcaRUc2 pic.twitter.com/QVLLsKx1xm
— Mikie Sherrill (@MikieSherrill) December 5, 2017
End Citizens United was established to champion campaign finance reform and PAC President Tiffany Muller has put supporting the Johnson Amendment at the top of their list. End Citizens United is trying to raise awareness for the importance of the Johnson Amendment in a coordinated, grassroots effort. Muller understands that if the Johnson Amendment were destroyed that it would put religious institutions into a position by which they could funnel money right into American politics. Churches would effectively become an open way for lobbyists to funnel money, tax free, into the United States government. If dark money and corporate interests are bad right now, imagine how bad it will be when these donors can use churches to write off their donations on their taxes.
End Citizens United has an uphill battle ahead of them as Republicans hold a majority at almost every level of the United States government. Only by raising awareness and motivating individuals via grassroots campaigning can there be hop of stopping this disastrous decision.