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Sanders Proposes Ending All Corporate Giving in US Elections

Sanders Proposes Ending All Corporate Giving in US Elections
(AP)

Monday, 07 October 2019 08:16 AM

Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan to end all corporate giving in federal elections, as he leads all other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders in fundraising by amassing small, individual donations.

Sanders, who’s recovering in Vermont after a heart attack last week, is proposing an election-financing system entirely funded by the taxpayers. The ban on corporate donations would also apply to national party conventions and to presidential inaugural activities. Individual donations to those events would be capped at $500.

Sanders has long been a proponent of getting company influence out of politics, and the new plan would play to his strengths.

His campaign announced last week that he raised $25.3 million in the third quarter, the highest among Democratic contenders. The haul came exclusively from individual donations averaging $18.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, his closest rival for the progressive mantle in the race, also eschews corporate money, but other contenders, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, have relied in part on donations from corporate political action committees.

Billionaires Unneeded

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president,” Sanders said in a statement released on Monday.

“We’ve received more contributions from more individual contributors than any campaign in the history of American politics because we understand the basic reality that you can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”

In the 2016 election, 17 company donors provided three-quarters of the funding for the Democratic National Convention, including Bank of America Corp., Comcast Corp., and Facebook Inc., the Sanders campaign pointed out. At the 2013 presidential inauguration, Chevron Corp., AT&T Inc. and Microsoft Corp. also gave millions of dollars to fund festivities at the start of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Sanders’s position puts him at odds with the Republican Party, as well as some of his key 2020 Democratic competitors. Leading GOP figures such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have long argued that corporate giving is a form of free speech, and shouldn’t be regulated.

Citizens United

That position was affirmed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, which prohibits the government from restricting independent spending by corporations and labor unions in federal elections. Sanders said he wants a constitutional amendment that jettisons Citizens United.McConnell has repeatedly taken aim at Sanders, mocking him as a socialist. The latest proposal will likely provide additional fodder to the GOP as the 2020 election intensifies.

In Sanders’s plan, the senator also proposes a ban on advertising during presidential primary debates and would establish a life-time lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior congressional aides.

Sanders’ third-quarter fundraising haul was followed by Warren, who raised $24.6 million, and Buttigieg, who raised $19.1 million. Biden raised just $15.2 million and Senator Kamala Harris of California raised $11.6 million.

Lagging in Polls

The Democrats were far surpassed by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, which, along with the Republican National Committee, took in $125 million in the third quarter. It wasn’t clear how much of that came from individual donations.

Despite his fundraising prowess, Sanders, 78, is now regularly lagging both Biden and Warren in national polls of Democratic primary voters after holding the second-place position behind Biden for much of this year.

A Sept. 23-29 survey by Monmouth University found Warren had 28% support among Democratic voters, statistically tied with Biden, who had 25%. Sanders had 15%, while Buttigieg and Harris each had 5%. The poll of 434 Democratic or leaning Democratic voters had a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.

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Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan to end all corporate giving in federal elections, as he leads all other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders in fundraising by amassing small, individual donations.Sanders, who's recovering in Vermont after a heart attack last week, is...
berniesanders, ban, corporate, political, donations, elections
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2019-16-07
Monday, 07 October 2019 08:16 AM
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