BURLINGTON, Vt., May 31 - A plan by the Koch brothers, a right-wing conservative family, to spend $400 million on political campaigns this year is the latest evidence of the need to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that voided campaign finance laws, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today.
Organizations related to Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who run a Kansas-based energy and manufacturing conglomerate, plan to lay out $400 million on campaigns in key states, according to a report published Wednesday by Politico. This figure is double what the Kochs were expected to spend this year, and the sum surpasses the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire 2008 presidential campaign.
"The Koch brothers' bid to buy elections in America speaks to the obvious need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and subsequent rulings," Sanders said. "In the short term, Congress must pass legislation to require disclosure of the corporations and wealthy individuals behind the ads by outside groups," he added.
"When one wealthy family spends more money than was raised altogether by the last Republican presidential candidate, it tells us that we are no longer a country of the people, by the people and for the people. We are becoming a country of the rich, by the rich and for the rich," he added.
Sanders cited a growing public backlash against the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Vermont and four other states have now asked Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to undo that controversial ruling.
Sanders last Dec. 8 introduced the Saving American Democracy Amendment. His proposal would restore the power of Congress and state lawmakers to enact campaign spending limits like laws that were in place for a century before the controversial court ruling.
Sanders also is a cosponsor of legislation aimed at curtailing the power of special interest groups by requiring them to disclose more information about their role in purchasing campaign advertisements. The Disclose Act would address some concerns related to the Supreme Court ruling that let corporations pour money directly into campaign ads.