Congressman Dan Kildee: Oversized Role of Money in Politics Largely to Blame for Continued Shutdown, Broken System of Government

Press Release

Date: Oct. 8, 2013

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today said the oversized money in politics is in large part to blame for the continued government shutdown, now in its second week, fueling a distorted political process where Republicans are afraid to compromise in Congress. Congressman Kildee's remarks come as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which Congressman Kildee called the "second-coming of Citizens United," that could possibly open the door for even more money to flood into political action committees (PACs), political campaigns and party committees.

"Our democracy is not working the way it was designed, in large part due to the obscene amount of money in politics. Citizens United certainly opened the floodgates, but McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission could make it even worse," Congressman Kildee said. "The latest government shutdown is a prime example of everything wrong with our current system of government, which has been turned into a game of "gotcha' rather than a way to actually reconcile differences in opinion amongst the American people. We were sent here to solve problems with one another, not read talking points past each other."

"Money in politics has paralyzed progress in Washington," Congressman Kildee continued. "I'm sure some Members of Congress would be more apt to compromise if they were not absolutely petrified of the Koch Brothers spending millions of dollars to unseat them in a primary. We can't afford to have a system of government -- propelled by billions in campaign cash -- that rewards confrontation and condemns compromise. If we don't fix the underlying problem of money in politics, we'll continue to lurch crisis-to-crisis, fighting the same ideological battles, where my constituents and the American people ultimately lose."

According to a report in The New York Times, the Koch Brothers, Charles and David, have been "deeply involved" in financing the brinkmanship leading up to the government shutdown, to the tune of more than $200 million. Through a variety of groups, including the Club for Growth, Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers have "articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy" that pushed Republicans into "cutting off financing for the entire federal government."

"To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 -- waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known," the article reads.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, brought by plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon, challenges aggregate contribution limits for individual campaign donors and could open the door for even more money to flood into the political system. In the 2012 election cycle, McCutcheon gave $113,338 directly to candidates, PACs, and political party committees, according to the Huffington Post. Currently, federal law bars individuals from donating more than $123,200 to candidates, political parties and PACs during the current, two-year election cycle.