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Courtney Hight Headshot

Senator Ted Cruz, You're Fired

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Perhaps there was an error in our computer system. Maybe someone in human resources department hit the wrong button. I doubt it. Still, one way or the other, Senator Ted Cruz has taken it upon himself to act as a spokesperson for the Sierra Club.

Please, Senator Cruz, consider this your pink slip.

The fact is that Cruz has now publicly proclaimed multiple times what he thinks is best for the Sierra Club. And, as you would expect from the man who single-handedly forced the government shutdown, his judgment leaves something to be desired.

The most recent example was last Tuesday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Senator Tom Udall's important constitutional amendment to undo the damage of the Citizens United decision. Then, Cruz wrongly proclaimed that Udall's legislation would somehow give "congress the right to muzzle the Sierra Club" along with a litany of other groups and people for whom Cruz appointed himself spokesperson.

To be clear, Ted Cruz speaking for the Sierra Club is sort of like an arsonist speaking for the fire department -- it doesn't make sense. Cruz has a 15% rating when it comes to voting on clean air and clean water issues. He rejects the concrete science upheld by NASA, the U.S. Military, and 97% of scientists that says climate disruption is happening here and now. And he's taken $900,000 in campaign cash from big polluters, including those who want to roll-back the incredible progress we've made in recent years.

Don't get me wrong, Senator Cruz -- we appreciate the shoutout. And we're glad you don't want us muzzled (incidentally, feel free to put in a good word with some of your colleagues on that point). But -- and this certainly is something you're probably getting used to hearing -- you're wrong.

The fact is that the Sierra Club supports Senator Tom Udall's amendment because it would help level the playing field between big money campaign donors and everyone else. And for every American who is sick and tired of gridlock, self-imposed shutdowns, and distorted government priorities, that is desperately needed.

Ever since the Supreme Court's disastrous 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the floodgates have opened and big money campaign donors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into our system, floating their agenda to the top and drowning out the voices of everyone else.

Some of the worst offenders know Senator Cruz well -- they've been helping bankroll his political campaign and those of his Big Polluter loving cronies for years.

In addition to the nearly $900,000 in direct contributions to Cruz, Polluter-backed groups spent $270 million on political ads in the last two months of the 2012 cycle alone. The infamous oil baron Koch Brothers are estimated to have spent more than $400 million in campaigns in that year alone.

There's no way average Americans can compete for the attention of their elected leaders in a system drowning in millions in big polluter money.

You don't have to look hard to see the impact. The U.S. House has taken more than 160 votes attacking the environment just since 2013. Big polluters are getting $59 in tax subsidies back from the government for every $1 they invest in lobbying expenditures. And in the meantime, progress everywhere else is stuck. Cruz himself was the architect of the infamous, needless federal government shutdown in 2013.

Yet Cruz somehow claims that Senator Udall's effort to fix this tragic situation is somehow problematic for those who care about the environment, women's health, the right to organize, or voting rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, Senator Udall's amendment is a ray of hope amid the darkness of the status quo. It's an actual solution to empower everyday Americans and get our government looking like a democracy again. It's a step to recognize that political money isn't speech -- its power, and that power is becoming more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. And, all too often, those hands belong to big money donors who would rather everyone else doesn't have a chance to participate in the process and have our voices heard.

Americans get that something is wrong -- and we know money in politics is a HUGE part of the problem. That's why majorities from every party want to see limits to outside spending and campaign contributions, according to a new CBS News poll. And that's why Senator Udall's amendment is so deserving of broad support. Far from muzzling the voices of concerned Americans, this legislation is about empowering us by turning down the volume on the bullhorns of the billionaires.

Americans deserve a fighting chance to get our government back from big money donors -- Senator Udall's amendment would provide just that, while making sure every American, from Sierra Club members to Ted Cruz, could have an equal say in the system no matter what's in their wallet or their bank account.

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