Bill to allow California Voters to Take a Stand Against Big Money in Politics Passes Out of Key Comittee


The California Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee passed SB 1272 (Lieu), a bill to put a voter instruction measure on the 2014 statewide ballot that calls for a constitutional amendment of Citizens United vs FEC

CALPIRG’s Garo Manjikian testified in support of this measure. Below is Manjikian’s entire testimony:

Good afternoon Chairman Fong and members of the committee. My name is Garo Manjikian and I am the Legislative Advocate for CALPIRG, a non-profit, statewide consumer advocacy group that stands up for and protects Californians.

A series of disappointing Supreme Court decisions, including McCutcheon v. FEC, Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo, have created a political environment that poses an undeniable threat to our democracy. These decisions undermine the basic principle of political equality and create an unequal playing field where there are no limits to how much corporations and wealthy individuals can spend to influence elections.

One of the core principles of our form of self-government is that people, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or income, are politically equal: one person, one vote. Yet, in equating money with free speech, the Supreme Court has effectively declared that some people have more free speech than others.

And the numbers are really scary.

  • In 2012 just 32 super PAC donors matched same amount given by the 3.7 million small donors to Mitt Romney and President Obama’s campaigns.
  • Outside groups spent more than 1 billion dollars supporting the two major presidential candidates in 2012, with millions of those dollars coming from for-profit corporations.
  • Research by the CALPIRG Education Fund shows the Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon v. FEC decision could bring an additional 1 billion dollars in campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle. 

We need to overturn these decisions to save our democracy.  And we understand it’s a very huge undertaking, but it needs to happen. SB 1272 will allow Californians to send a loud and clear message to our own California Congressional delegation, which not all are on record in support of a constitutional amendment, and will take us one big step closer to bringing our democracy back to the people. 

For these reasons we respectfully request your “Aye” vote on SB 1272.