POLITICS
03/01/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2013

Adam Schiff, California Congressman, Backs Citizens United Constitutional Amendment

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a vocal supporter of campaign reform, is pushing Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

"I think the effect of the new spending that has been unleashed by Citizens United will have a dramatic impact on how campaigns are run and how campaigns are funded," Schiff said Thursday, lamenting the ability of anonymous groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech after the landmark 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. "It comes from unknown sources and there's no requirement of disclosure. And there, in that circumstance, voters don't know who is backing whom, who is spending money on behalf of whom, and they are deprived of some of the most important information that they may need."

Schiff's comments came as part of the On the Record Project, a crowd-sourcing partnership between The Huffington Post and Rootstrikers, a nonpartisan organization founded by Lawrence Lessig to fight the influence of money in politics. As part of the project, individuals ask their representatives on the record whether the "unending chase for money" in politics -- as Secretary of State John Kerry called it -- has corrupted the political system.

As part of the effort, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) also recently said that he wanted to see Citizens United overturned.

Schiff spoke to Daniel Rivera, a sophomore at San Francisco State University and the vice president for his school's chapter of Rootstrikers.

"In this upcoming midterm election, since there won't be a presidential race at the top of the ticket, all that super PAC money will be devoted to House and Senate races. And in a district as small as a House district, that kind of spending can have a very significant impact," Schiff warned Rivera.

Schiff offered two "remedies" to what he described as "the destructive campaign finance situation we find ourselves in." Along with a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United, Schiff is urging Congress to support the Disclose Act, which would require outside groups to disclose how much money they're spending and the source of the donations. The bill failed to pass the Senate in 2010 and 2012, was reintroduced in Congress by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in January.

Overturning the Citizens United ruling would be a tall-order, requiring support from two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, and three-fourths of the states. But just last week, a California assemblymember introduced a bill that would put the amendment question to voters on the state's midterm ballot. In November, voters in Montana, Colorado and 175 cities passed symbolic measures, urging Congress to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling.

Schiff said his campaign for Congress in 2000 "was the most expensive race in U.S. history at the time and for many years thereafter." In his seven successful campaigns for the House, Schiff said he dealt with "mass expenditures coming in from the outside," which he believes are "a real corruption of the process."

He emphasized that efforts in Congress to reform the campaign finance system would gain little traction without activists "interacting with their legislators both at the state and federal level."

"Calling, writing, visiting and raising the profile on this issue will be key to its success," Schiff said.

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