By Ken Stone
But Campa-Najjar is the first 2020 House challenger to be endorsed by the Washington-based reform group whose goals include “fixing the rigged system in Washington.” The backing was announced Tuesday — just over a year after it first endorsed him.
“Ammar Campa-Najjar knows that when politicians rely on corporate PAC money to fund their campaigns, everyday Californians get left behind,” said ECU President Tiffany Muller. “His rejection of corporate PAC money proves that he’s listening to voters and that he can’t be bought.”
In a statement, Muller said Hunter’s picture “should appear in the dictionary next to [the] entry for corruption. … Duncan Hunter used his corporate PAC funded campaign account to pay for vacations for his family and their rabbit. That won’t fly with Californians, and End Citizens United is proud to endorse Ammar Campa-Najjar.”
The group says the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC. established the legal basis for the idea that “corporations are people,” allowing billionaires and special interests to spend unlimited, untraceable money in America’s elections.[contextly_sidebar id=”ml12OfJAWfVkHuolmPPD85L2MgB0yYYf”]“I am honored to be the first congressional challenger to be endorsed by End Citizens United this cycle,” Campa-Najjar said. “I’ve rejected corporate PACs since day one, and will make prohibiting corporations from buying politicians my top legislative priority.”
The 4-million-member group — which ECU says includes 8,200 in Hunter’s 50th District of mainly East County – follows traditional PAC rules and doesn’t accept donations larger than $5,000. That’s also the amount it gave Campa-Najjar in 2018 (under rules limiting donations to federal candidates of $5,000 per election).
Established in March 2015, ECU relies on small individual donations — averaging $14 per donor.
“We are dedicated to countering the disastrous effects of Citizens United and reforming our campaign finance system,” says its website.
ECU says the early endorsement will help connect its over 550,000 donors with Campa-Najjar’s campaign “to make sure he has the resources to win.” The group also plans to write him a check.
Campa-Najjar, who lost to Hunter by 3.4 percentage points in 2018, said Hunter has accepted nearly $2 million from corporate PACs, “selling his office to the highest corporate bidders.”
“Congressman Hunter’s very freedom from prison now rests in the hands of multinational corporate interests who have paid for his votes, illegal campaign spending and legal defense fund for his upcoming trial,” said Campa-Najjar, who vowed to be “unbought by the pharmaceutical, fossil fuel, and finance industries.”
In the 2018 election cycle, ECU says, it encouraged candidates to forgo corporate PAC money, and 58 members of the 116th Congress have sworn off such funding, including 27 members of the House freshman class who flipped their formerly Republican districts.
Although its direct contribution to Campa-Najjar may be modest, ECU’s advertising budget is mammoth. Of its nearly $33 million spending in the 2018 cycle, $14.1 million went to media buys, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Campa-Najjar spent $4 million in the last campaign, compared with Hunter’s $1.8 million.
But of the Democrat’s amount, less than 5% ($190,163) came from PACs, while nearly 42 percent of Hunter’s money ($487,921) came from PACs, says OpenSecrets.org.
In the 2018 cycle, End Citizens United divvied up $1.3 million among Democrats — mostly in House races — and spent $2.7 million on behalf of Democrats. It also spent $9.9 million in efforts to defeat Republicans.
Last month, ECU spent $50,000 to begin running 30-second digital ads against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for not allowing a vote on HR1, the House-passed government reform legislation.
McConnell has a “long history of making sure politicians can be bought,” says the ad, which accuses him of opening “the floodgates for special interest money into our political system.”
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