Citizens United, Super PACs and the Fight for Our Democracy

Citizens United, Super PACs and the Fight for Our Democracy

Session Type(s): Panel

Training Tag(s): Elections

Starts: Friday, Jun. 8 3:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jun. 8 4:15 PM (Eastern)

The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to massive amounts of anonymous corporate spending in our elections and allowed Super PACs to spend millions on campaign ads with no accountability. In the Republican presidential primary, we’ve seen Super PACs acting as shadow arms of the candidates’ campaigns. This new doctrine of “corporate speech rights” threatens to drown out the voices of the American people. Organized by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Center for American Progress Action Fund, this panel will examine the far-reaching impact of Citizens United and discuss how legislators, activists, bloggers and stakeholders can help restore sanity to our elections.

Citizens United, Super PACs and the Fight for Our Democracy

Miss this panel? No problem! Here’s what happened.

Storified by Netroots Nation · Fri, Jun 08 2012 16:35:17

The panelists talked about the immediate effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
@senjeffmerkley talks about the dangers of #citizensunited @netroots_nation #nn12 Crowley
Corporations are going to spend more of stockholder’s $ than all citizens combined in this election. – @SenJeffMerkley #CitizensUnited #nn12CAP Action: Congress
.@thetrevorpotter “You’re seeing a real intimidation of the legislative and electoral process” because of SuperPAC money. #NN12Emily Mills
They all agreed that the decision perverts the values we all hold dear.
.@SenJeffMerkley "Citizens United crosses out ‘We the People’ in the Constitution and replaces it with ‘We the Powerful." #NN12Emily Mills
@SenSherrodBrown says all the $ in politics from people like the #Koch brothers gives all new meaning to "buy American" @Netroots_NationPatrick Crowley
@bbond from @credomobile says it’s not #citizensunited it’s billionaires united #nn12Tracy Viselli
There are concrete steps that Congress can take.
@SenWhitehouse says #discloseact up in senate again in July. That requires superpacs to tell who pays for ads. #NN12Bob Plain
And Citizens United challenges us all to be more active to counterbalance the flood of corporate money.
RT @drdigipol: RT @MichaelBouldin: @BBond: "There are thousands of people waiting to be asked to do something big." #nn12 #CitizensUnited”craignewmark
Senator Whitehouse mentioned something that you can read at home.
Curious about the amicus brief Sheldon just mentioned at #NN12? The one he filed with Senator John McCain? Details: Whitehouse


Tom Perriello


Tom Perriello is the President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and former U.S. representative for Virginia’s fifth congressional district. While representing rural, urban, and suburban communities across central and southern Virginia, Perriello served on the Veterans Affairs and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. After leaving office, he conducted research and wrote commentary on the Arab Spring through a variety of nongovernment organizations. Prior to his service in Congress, Perriello managed teams working on conflict resolution and democratic transitions in Africa, Afghanistan, and other regions. Perriello has helped launch numerous non-profits including Faith in Public Life,, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholics United. He is a native of Ivy, Virginia and a graduate of Yale University and the Yale Law School.

Other sessions: Intervention, Isolation and the Future of Progressive Security Policy

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Becky Bond

Becky Bond is the president of the CREDO SuperPAC and the political director of CREDO Mobile. Becky has been at the forefront of the online to offline organizing movement since she joined CREDO in 2000, combining innovative technology, rapid response, measurable results, volunteer engagement and a passionate commitment to winning progressive victories. Organizing with CREDO, Becky has grown a community of 3 million activists who take action on issues ranging from defending choice to protecting net neutrality to fighting climate change and ending unjust wars. She also led the 2004 campaign to register one million anti-war citizens as well as the “Hell NO on 23” campaign, CREDO’s victorious 2010 effort to crush Texas oil and save California’s global warming law. Becky serves on the board of the New Organizing Institute.

Other sessions: Handcuffs, Conventional Wisdom and Dirty Oil: Activism’s Big Win Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

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Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Sherrod Brown

Long-time progressive champion, U.S. Senator Sherrod Sherrod Brown, won decisive re-election in Ohio in 2018 after Donald Trump won the state by nearly double digits in 2016.

Sherrod has been a consistent champion of progressive values. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, against the Iraq War and against NAFTA. He is proud to have consistently earned the support of Planned Parenthood and NARAL and the opposition of the NRA. As a former Ohio Secretary of State, Sherrod has long championed voting rights. In fact, the Washington Post called his voter registration efforts, “probably the most intensive and wide-ranging in the nation.”

Sherrod has dedicated his life in public service to fighting for what he calls ‘the dignity of work’ – the belief that hard work should pay off for everyone, no matter who you are or what kind of work you do. Earlier this year he did a “Dignity of Work” tour of the first four states with the goal of making Dignity of Work front and center in the 2020 campaign.

From protecting Medicare and Social Security to helping our small businesses thrive, Sherrod Brown isn’t afraid to stand up for the American middle class. Sherrod is currently running for reelection to the U.S. Senate in his home state of Ohio, where he faces a tight race against right-wing Republican Josh Mandel.

Senator Jeff Merkley

Senator Jeff Merkley

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is the son of a millwright and the first in his family to attend college. Born in the timber town of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, Merkley has spent his career fighting to increase opportunities for working families. For more information about Senator Jeff Merkley and the work he’s doing for Oregon, please visit his website at

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Trevor Potter


Trevor Potter is a member in Caplin & Drysdale’s Washington, D.C. office, where he leads the firm’s Political Law Practice. He is one of the country’s best-known and most experienced campaign and election lawyers, and a former Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He has been described by the American Bar Association Journal as “hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law and money.” He is also the founding President and General Counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, DC non-partisan non-profit that has focused on campaign finance issues, beginning with the Constitutional defense of the McCain-Feingold law. Mr. Potter served as General Counsel to John McCain 2008 and 2000 presidential campaigns. He also served as Deputy General Counsel to the George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign.

Mr. Potter now represents Stephen Colbert and his SuperPAC and 501C-4. He advises Mr. Colbert on campaign finance issues on The Colbert Report.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse


Sheldon Whitehouse represents Rhode Island in U.S. Senate, where he has earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for progressive values and a thoughtful legislator capable of reaching bipartisan solutions. He has been at the center of efforts to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, reform the criminal and juvenile justice systems, protect Americans from toxic chemicals in everyday products, address ocean plastic waste, and respond to the opioid crisis. Whitehouse co-founded the Senate Climate Action Task Force to build support for action to address carbon pollution, and sits on Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

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