In a press release dated May 3, 2017, End Citizens United announced their endorsement of Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) and Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) for the midterm elections in 2018. Because of these endorsements, more than 143,000 ECU members in the three states will be reached, and ECU has also announced it’s tapping 330,000 donors to bolster the candidates’ resources.
Endorsing Senators Casey, Heitkamp and Whitehouse was an easy decision for End Citizens United—as these senators are known to be leaders who fight for campaign reform, according to ECU President and Executive Director Tiffany Muller. ECU is well known for its firm and pro-active stand against Big Money, or special interest money attempting to buy the elections. For example, in the recent race for Georgia’s 6th district, ECU helped elect Jon Ossoff by raising $900,000 for his campaign. Last year, ECU raised more than $15 million to elect fifteen new legislators, including Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto and Maggie Hassan. Although ECU is only two yeas old, it’s grown in influence by leaps and bounds, counting more than 3 million members. For last year’s elections, it was the third largest PAC.
This year, just from January to March, ECU was able to collect more than $4 million. In this time frame, 100,000 people donated money to ECU, of whom 40,000 were first-time donors. End Citizen’s United is expected to bring in $35 million for the midterm congressional elections next year. The group’s main aim is to elect legislators who are “campaign-finance reform champions,” according to Muller.
Muller also says that the average donation to ECU is $12. Members of the group are people who are fighting against the current system where the biggest donors carry the biggest weight in decision-making.
ECU’s name was taken from the Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, a landmark decision in 2010 which allowed union and corporate donations to candidates, and was instrumental in the rise of super PACs, which have no limit to the amount of money they can solicit and spend. As a traditional PAC, End Citizens United is not allowed to accept donations greater than $5000 from single donors. That did not stop ECU, however, from becoming one of the largest spending groups in last year’s elections.
ECU has begun working closely with campaign-finance groups, as shown in the confirmation hearings of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. ECU worked with many organizations to encourage Republican senators whose campaigns had received donations from DeVos and other members of her family. DeVos’ confirmation vote resulted in a deadlock, which Vice President Pence broke by voting for DeVos.