It’s Time for Corporations to Come Clean, and President Obama Can Help

by Rachel Rye Butler

August 11, 2015

The Citizens United decision left too many loopholes for corporate dark money to pollute our democracy. Now, we're asking President Obama to make sure corporations come clean.

Democracy Rally at Supreme Court in Washington DC

Activists dressed as $100 bills representing "The Money" have a tug of war with activists as "The People" in front of the Supreme Court.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

Just how deep the tentacles of Citizens United go, we may never know. That landmark Supreme Court decision in 2010 green-lighted a new and grotesque era of corporate money in politics. A democracy crippled by special interests and corporate influence can’t achieve the progress we need on things like renewable energy, environmental justice, and kicking fossil fuels to the curb.

It’s not just shadowy front groups that are hiding their spending. Giant corporations like Halliburton that have secured several large contracts with the federal government are also allowed to keep their contributions secret. There’s no doubt this secret money is influencing policy, from our foreign policy to—you guessed it—the environment.

It’s clear that Citizens United has been devastating for our democracy, and the time to start dismantling it is now.

Achieving this change through our current hostile and corporate-backed Congress isn’t likely, but that doesn’t mean we’re without a fighting chance. Congress has stalled progress to dismantle Citizens United and implement people-powered election rules, but it doesn’t hold all the power to pull back the curtain on secret corporate spending.

President Obama can use his power to issue an executive order to require corporations who do business with the government as federal contractors— including fossil fuel corporations like Shell—to disclose their political spending. Every. Single. Dollar.

This is huge. And the best part is it doesn’t require approval from Congress. The president has intimated on several occasions that as a nation we need to address secret political spending and this money’s far-reaching influence in politics. All he has to do is act.

Will this executive order address every regressive element of Citizens United? No, not by a long shot. There is still a lot of work ahead of us to get corporate money out of our democracy. But with an election just 18 months away, the time to act is now. The president has an opportunity to pull back the curtain on secret spending by government contractors, and that can make a huge difference toward greater transparency.

Greenpeace will continue to work with our allies to call for an end to secret corporate spending in our democracy.

Join the call to ask President Obama to shine the light on secret spending by government contractors.

Rachel Rye Butler

By Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler is a campaigner at Greenpeace USA

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