Elections

Trump should follow Clinton’s lead on Citizens United, says GOP congressman

FILE – U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, wants Donald Trump to match Hillary Clinton’s pledge to end Citizens United with a constitutional amendment.
FILE – U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, wants Donald Trump to match Hillary Clinton’s pledge to end Citizens United with a constitutional amendment. AP

North Carolina’s Walter Jones never minds bucking Republican leaders in Washington and now he wants Donald Trump to do the same when it comes to dealing a blow to big money in politics.

The citizen is almost left out (of the political process) ... I feel very strongly that money drives policy and it should not be that way.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.

U.S. Rep. Jones, Republican from Eastern North Carolina, who has championed campaign finance reform for years, is among a small group in Congress hoping to elevate to the Supreme Court a recent complaint filed with Federal Election Committee. The complaint challenges campaign fundraising activities by 10 super “PACs” – political action committees which can take in an unlimited amount of donations from companies, individuals and unions but are prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates or political parties.

Activists working on the legal challenge want to eliminate super PACs and effectively undo a previous court decision from Citizens United in 2010.

Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, has pledged to support a constitutional amendment that would supersede the Citizens United ruling.

“I’m glad that she’s taken that position and I hope that Donald Trump would do the same thing,” Jones told McClatchy in an interview this week. “The citizen is almost left out (of the political process) ... I feel very strongly that money drives policy and it should not be that way.”

Jones has been outspoken about what he sees as the pitfalls of money influencing policy and politics. Several times, he’s teamed up with Democrats to introduce bills that would stiffen campaign finance regulations. Republicans and Democrats alike, Jones says, benefit from wealthy individuals and corporations bankrolling campaigns and, in turn, their votes are bought.

The 10-term congressman recently won an award for his campaign finance reform efforts. American Promise – an advocacy group focused on overturning Citizens United vs. FEC – awarded Jones its congressional leadership award last month during the National Citizen Leadership Conference.

Trump has yet to pick up the super PAC issue on the presidential campaign trail. Last month, he hired former Citizens United president David Bossie as a deputy campaign manager. Bossie previously ran a “Defeat Crooked Hillary” super PAC. Trump’s campaign also hired a past Citizens United communications staffer as a campaign spokesman earlier this year.

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

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