Get Big Money Out of Politics

There is too much big money in politics—and it is ruining our democracy. 

Thanks to four decades of misguided court decisions, the super-rich and corporations can spend nearly as much money as they want to promote or oppose political candidates. 

As a result, those with the most money have more influence in our political system than ordinary people. It means the wealthy have more influence over who runs for office, who wins, and who makes decisions in America. And it means politicians are more beholden to the wealthy donors than ordinary people.

All this big money not only drowns out the voices of regular people—it also causes the public to lose confidence in the political system. As that happens, participation drops and our democracy slowly erodes.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that money equals free speech—and that the American people are prohibited from restricting how much money politicians can raise and spend. We disagree. Money is not speech. Money is property and amplifies speech, but is not speech itself.  

To protect our democracy, we have to get big money out of politics. A constitutional amendment that gives citizens back the power to limit the big money in politics is a key solution. There is a nationwide effort to build awareness about how a constitutional amendment could solve the problem. 

We are also fighting to empower the voices of regular Americans by campaigning for a system that matches small contributions to candidates who don’t take money from large or corporate donors. We’re already seeing this system work in places like New York City, and we could definitely do this here in Oregon!

Campaign Updates

Saving Dollars, Saving Democracy - Cost Savings for Local Elections Officials Through Voter Registration Modernization

Millions are being wasted due to antiquated voter registration systems and procedures. U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s survey of 100 counties showed that over $33,467,910.00 of public money was spent on simple registration implementation and error-correction issues in 2008. The Fund finds that a more streamlined and automatic system linking existing databases with the state voter rolls could free up significant resources at the local level.

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Blog Post | Democracy

OSPIRG Panel A Huge Success

Last night, November 22nd, OSPIRG students hosted a panel called "Are Corporations Good Citizens?" Panelist and community members of Ashland discussed the history of corporate personhood and the implications of the court case Citizens United vs. FEC. Over 115 community members attended this thought provoking panel at Southern Oregon University. Panelists included Representative Peter Buckley, Senator Alan Bates, Professor William Hughes, and Professor Prakash Chenjeri.

Thank you very much to the Ashland community for supporting OSPIRG and for participating in the panel!

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Result | Democracy

Increasing the youth vote

OSPIRG, together with Oregon Student Association and the Bus Project, helped pioneer a youth voter mobilization model that is now utilized successfully across the country.

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Blog Post | Corporate, Democracy

$550 million in corporate tax breaks revealed

Starting today, the recipients of over $550 million in corporate tax breaks is now online, thanks in part to the research and public education efforts of OSPIRG and others.

In 2010, OSPIRG’s Dave Rosenfeld & Jon Bartholomew dug through government documents and revealed that Oregon taxpayers shoulder the cost of more than $600 million in subsidies to corporations - an amount equaling nearly 60 percent of Oregon’s budget shortfall.

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