February 28, 2024

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Lawmakers and advocates gathered at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg to discuss a new report on money in Pennsylvania politics.

It comes as “For Our Freedom,” a group pushing “to put the power back in the hands of America’s patriots” released a report on the impact of big, untraceable money on policymaking in Pennsylvania over public needs.

The report comes after one of the most expensive primary elections in Pennsylvania’s history with competitive U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races.

According to Medium Buying, which tracks the finances of politics, the Republican Republican U.S. Senate primary saw $55.4 million in TV and radio ad spending. Honor Pennsylvania, a Pro-David McCormick group, spent nearly $18 million during the primary.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman received nearly $16 million in contributions, the most among any Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate.

More than $22 million was spent on TV and radio ads in the Republican gubernatorial race, the majority by projected third-place finisher Bill McSwain.

Organizers, including Jeff Clements of American Promise, are lobbying to create a 28th Amendment to “get a handle on this out of control money in our politics,” including so-called “dark money.”

“Dark money is the kind of money that’s funding all those attack ads, the divisive stuff,” said Clements. “You don’t know where the money is coming from. It’s coming from Super PACS, it’s coming from outside interest, it’s coming from global corporations, it’s even coming from foreign governments now.”

In 2010 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations have the ability to spend money on elections and for speech either supporting or rejecting a candidate through the First Amendment protections of Free Speech.

Clements called the ruling a “disastrous mistake” that led to more money and misinformation in politics.

To pass a constitutional amendment, the U.S. Constitution states that an amendment may be proposed either by Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. 

A constitutional amendment has not been passed in the United States since the 27th Amendment in 1992 that decided “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Dennis Owens will have more tonight on the push to clean up money in Pennsylvania politics.

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