With $200 Cap, Warren Tells Big-Dollar Donors to Sniff Elsewhere

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during the Power of our Pride Town Hall on Oct. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(CN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren released a new campaign-finance reform plan Tuesday — and promised not to let tech, banking, equity or hedge fund executives contribute more than $200 to her campaign. She already refuses such donations from fossil fuel and Big Pharma. 

“Whatever issue brings you to politics — whether it’s climate change or gun violence, student loans or prescription drug prices — there is a reason why our country hasn’t been able to make progress: corruption,” Warren said in the policy announcement. “Money slithers through every part of our political system, corrupting democracy and taking power away from the people.”

If she is chosen as the Democratic nominee, Warren said she will walk the walk and refuse donations from political action committees, federal lobbyists and big-dollar fundraisers. She’d also ban corporate donations to the Democratic National Convention.

Tracing the process of corruption to closed-door fundraisers with candidates long before they get elected, Warren said politicians have become too focused on “call time” with big donors, and the courting of super-PACs, instead of informative talks with everyday constituents. 

She proposed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to overturn Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United (2010) and Buckley v. Valeo (1976), both of which slashed restrictions on campaign contributions. 

“Much of this corruption of our representative democracy is perfectly legal, courtesy of the Supreme Court,” Warren said. “The Supreme Court has declared that money is speech and corporations are people.” 

Since the Citizens United decision, outside groups have more than tripled their political campaign spending — dropping $1.4 billion in the 2016 presidential campaign alone — Warren emphasized.

She promised that if elected she would prohibit federal candidates from taking corporate PAC money, close a loophole that allows for election influence from foreign companies, and keep campaign donations out of the conversation when choosing ambassadors. 

The Massachusetts senator said she would also ban lobbyists from raising money for candidates, enhance enforcement by the Federal Elections Commission, and lower contribution limits. Warren would additionally require disclosure of inaugural spending, major presidential campaign donors, and especially the sources of dark money.

“Getting big money out of politics is a critical part of fighting corruption, and it will help give us a government that truly is of the people, by the people, and for the people,” her policy announcement states.

There has already been debate over whether Warren’s small-donor plan could be successful in a national race, particularly against an incumbent President Trump. 

When Warren released her third-quarter fundraising numbers earlier this month, however, they showed her and Senator Bernie Sanders atop the list of highest-raising candidates despite both having refused big-dollar donations. Warren’s average contribution was $26. Sanders has also sworn off big donors if he is the Democratic nominee. 

Warren called on “every candidate in this race” to disclose donors and fundraisers with special titles, as well as share the dates and locations of fundraising events and host names.

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