Rep. Ilhan Omar Introduces Bill to Get Dirty Money Out of Politics

May 24, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) today introduced the Protect Democracy from Criminal Corporations Act. This bill would bar corporations from political spending for ten years after being convicted of a crime. 

 “Companies that conspire to defraud the federal government or commit other felonies involving dishonesty or a breach of trust should not have influence over our political system,” Rep. Omar said. “This is just common sense. Companies that break the law shouldn’t be allowed to poison our democracy with dirty money.”

Almost ten years ago, the Supreme Court issued the Citizens United decision—allowing  corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. In some cases, companies who break the law continue to contribute to political candidates. One such corporation, BP, was found by a federal judge in 2014 to have acted on “profit-driven decisions” that amounted to “gross negligence” resulting in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Even as BP was arguing in court over the billions of fines it owed in Clean Water Act violations, it found a way to spend nearly $5 million on lobbying and campaign corporations that year.

The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Lori Trahan, Jan Schakowsky, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—and endorsed by Common Cause and End Citizens United. 

“When corporations commit crimes, many Americans often suffer severe consequences, such as breathing dirty air or drinking polluted water. After these criminal corporations are punished, they should not be able to buy influence in our political system to try to reduce their penalties,” said Common Cause Minnesota executive director Annastacia Belladona-Carrera. “We appreciate that Congresswoman Omar is introducing the Protect Democracy from Criminal Corporations Act so that lawbreaking businesses are held accountable for their actions and cannot try to weasel their way out of punishment.”

“Our broken campaign finance system allows corporations that have broken the law to continue spending money to buy access and influence in Washington,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “Representative Ilhan Omar’s bill would put an end to this corrupt, pay to play system by holding these corporations accountable and preventing them from spending more money in politics. From her work on H.R. 1 to this new piece of legislation, Rep. Omar has shown real leadership on the issue of reform."

An earlier version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Omar’s predecessor, Keith Ellison.

You can view the full bill here.