Citizens United: I'll Work Beyond a Sound Bite

My name is Dirk Adams, and I'm a Montana rancher and Democrat who wants to be the next U.S. senator from Montana. I'm the dark horse running for the open seat to replace Max Baucus. Find out more about me at the Dirk Adams for Senate website.

The consequences of our political system being driven by big money are clear in the destruction of the middle class, the destruction of the environment, and the entrenchment of power brokers that make it seem impossible to turn any of it around. Given this reality, taking a stand against Citizens United is good politics.

Despite taking "stands," both parties and candidates from both parties take advantage of the loopholes created by Citizens United. Even the "good guys" don't feel they can be the first to "disarm." In fact, the first question I was asked by the Montana Democratic Party when I announced I was running was, "How much money can you raise?"

I'm not criticizing them for asking the question. It merely points to the fact that it doesn't matter what your ideas are, your capacity to govern, and willingness to take on tough political battles if you don't have the dough.

What I believe in and will work for as Montana's U.S. Senator is the instantaneous and full disclosure of the actual source of all contributions to political candidates and the "independent expenditures" committees that work to influence the debate.

I am committed to substance over rhetoric, perhaps to my detriment. But my objective isn't to talk about taking big money out of politics. It's to do it.

The Montana initiative, I-166, was too narrow to stop big money. Money can be organized into forms other than corporations. The approach to try to stop money from stealing elections by focusing the prohibition on the form of the entity as opposed to the expenditure of dollars, in these times, is misinformed. Focusing on "entities" instead of dollars is what allows the shell game to continue.

The Constitutional amendment that both our current Senators support has the same problem. It focuses on organizational formats, instead of the money itself. While I support it too, I cannot join in with the fanfare that suggests that this is the answer to money's stranglehold on our political system.

Effective language for such an amendment could be: "The Congress may regulate as it deems appropriate the expenditure of money in politics." Senator Udall of Colorado has proposed just such language. That gives Congress the ability to stop the Kochs and others of their ilk, regardless of whether they store their money in some legal form or just in their own wallets.

There's another effective measure we can take. It doesn't require Republican buy-in or support and it doesn't require an act of Congress.

Currently pending before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a proposed regulation that would require all public corporations and entities to report, at least annually, on their political contributions, no matter how small. The Democrats control the SEC. They have a majority of the votes. This regulation, which received hundreds of thousands of letters of support from citizens, has not been passed. It quietly disappeared from the 2014 agenda.


This regulation requires NO Republican support to pass. The Democratic rhetoric against Citizens United appears unsupported by easy and effective action that can be taken right now to address big money's power over the political process.

I see the reality of what money has done and is doing to our political system. But I will not stand on a soapbox and crank out sound bites to manipulate voters when there is effective action available now. As a legal question, a Constitutional Amendment to neutralize Citizens United is one thing. The objective of taking our political system out of the control of big money is another.

As a U.S. Senator, I would push the issue. I would hold a hearing on the topic every month until the SEC got the message. Read more here about the SEC dropping disclosure of corporate political spending from its priority list.

Taking the political system back from big money is critical to turning this country around in regards to income inequality and the destruction of the planet. Send me to the U.S. Senate on behalf of Montanans and I'll work beyond the sound bite and make what needs to happen real. If you agree, you can join us at the Dirk Adams for Senate campaign website.