In a move made quietly and without public announcement, the Trump Administration reversed an ethics rule that once prohibited anonymous donations made by lobbyists to White House staffers. Specifically, the donations can be used to pay the legal fees of staffers who get caught up in the ever-expanding Russia-connected probe of the Trump presidential campaign.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics is a independent branch of the Executive Branch. It is supposed to police conflicts of interest, but under Trump, the agency has abandoned some of its primary functions.
Allowing “dark money” paid by hidden contributors to buy lawyers for White House officials makes extreme conflict of interest situations likely as well as inviting a host of other ethical problems.
This is exactly the kind of activity that raised alarm bells among many patriotic Americans who fear that the U.S. Government and political system is increasingly being “bought and sold” by cash-rich private interests who want to shape American policy in their own interests.
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In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision which made massive contributions of dark money by anonymous donors possible. Called the Citizens United ruling, the ruling basically states that “money is free speech,” and that large international corporations are “people.” Thus, these “people” have the right to give as much money was they want to a politician of choice.
To counter this disastrous Supreme Court ruling, a group of concerned citizens formed a political action committee (PAC) called “End Citizens United.” Just as its name implies, the PAC’s goal is to reverse the 2010 Supreme Court decision and get dark money out of politics.
End Citizens United first began raising money in 2015 ahead of the 2016 election cycle. Response was overwhelming. Tens of thousands of people made small contributions averaging just $12 to $14 and $25 million was raised.
End Citizens United set its fundraising goal for the 2018 election cycle at another $25 million, but contributions have been so strong the group expects to smash that goal by $10 million, garnering $35 million for the coming 2018 elections.
An article in USA Today said end Citizens United raised a robust $4 million in the first three months of 2017 taking it well on its way to a haul of $35 million. The money will be used to help elect Democratic candidates to Congress with a special focus on flipping control of the U.S. House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic control.
End Citizens United officials say the recent Trump move to trash the rules of the Ethics Office is further proof that it has become more important than ever to reverse the 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions.
Learn more about End Citizens United: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/how-to-reverse-citizens-united/471504/