In an op-ed for the Gotham Gazette, Professor Zephyr Teachout examines The Democracy Preservation Act and its impact on campaign finance reform.
For the framers of our Constitution, the desire to free themselves from corruption by foreign powers was central to their debates at the hot summer in Philadelphia that gave structure to what became the oldest surviving democracy. But the threat of foreign influence, and corruption–the struggle for self-determination, self-representation, and freedom from outside influence–continues.That struggle is epitomized by unlimited campaign spending by corporations and wealthy individuals through super PACs and dark money groups. Since 1976, the Supreme Court has approached campaign finance reform with growing skepticism, slowly loosening restrictions on political spending to the point that just about anything goes.New York now has the chance to turn this tide, and usher in a new era of freedom nationwide, with a bill that could blast a hole in Citizens United v. FEC.The New York Democracy Preservation Act, championed by State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Latrice Walker, is making its way through the New York Legislature. The bill, which just passed the State Senate, takes aim at one of campaign finance’s heaviest hitters: the multinational corporation. Corporations with partial foreign ownership have thrown millions of dollars into races on the federal, state, and local levels to lift restrictions on their activities and grow their bottom line, always at the expense of everyday Americans denied the ability to impact our democracy.