In the year 2010, a ruling by the Supreme Court would fundamentally change the way that political campaigns are financed within the United States. The court ruled 5-4 on a case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The ruling of the Supreme Court in this case opened the way for virtually unlimited spending by corporations and political action committees on behalf of or against a political candidate.
The case itself centered on the actions of a group called Citizens United. This group ran a movie entitled Hillary: The Movie during the time that Hillary Clinton was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.
Under the law that existed at the time, it was required that groups such as Citizens United reveal to the Federal Election Commission what groups and individuals had contributed to the production and airing of the anti Hillary Clinton movie. The group Citizens United refused to reveal to the FEC who contributed to the film.
The FEC took Citizens United to court. Initially, the court ruled against Citizens United in favor of the FEC. However, all of the subsequent rulings were reversed by the decision of the United States Supreme Court.
The court ruled that the right of free speech extended to corporations as well as to individuals. This meant that corporations were free to spend as they wished on political campaigns.
As a result of this ruling, corporations and political action committees were free to spend extravagant sums of money on political campaigns. The TV, radio and social media outlets were filled with advertising.
In reaction to the Citizens United ruling, the group End Citizens United was created. The goal of this group is to help raise funds for candidates who are committed to rectifying the excesses caused by the Citizens United verdict. In addition to spending money on candidates who are seeking to promote campaign finance reform legislation, End Citizens United campaigns against lawmakers that they believe are the worst offenders as far as big money politics is concerned.
Tiffany Muller is the executive director of End Citizens United. She has served as chief of staff for two members of Congress over the course of her career. Through her knowledge of the political process, the new group was able to raise $25 million during the 2016 election cycle to help support candidates. All of these funds were raised using grassroots efforts.
For the 2018 election cycle, the End Citizens group wants to raise $35 million in support of its candidates. To do so, they will call upon their base of over 300,000 grassroots contributors. In addition to supporting candidates, the group is targeting 30 members of Congress for defeat.