A liberal group hopes to convince voters in California to rebuke the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling, which paved the way for the outside campaign spending groups known as Super PACs. There is only one problem, the group is itself a Super PAC.
CREDO Mobile, a progressive phone company based in San Francisco, launched the CREDO Super PAC in 2012. CREDO is opposed to Super PACs and the huge sums of money that have flooded political campaigns because of them, but decided to create their own to counter big-spending conservative groups like American Crossroads.
"We think Citizens United should be overturned and all Super PACs -- including our own -- should be banished from politics for good," Sarah Lane, communications manager for CREDO, explained to Raw Story in an email. "But while we're working to make that happen we can't cede the playing field to the bad guys like the Koch brothers who have already used Citizens United to install a tea party Republican majority in the House."
The CREDO Super PAC spent about $2.7 million in 2012. The vast majority of the money was spent opposing tea party Republicans like former Reps. Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida. More recently, the group has targeted candidates opposed to gun control.
"So even while we fight to overturn Citizens United, we also use our Super PAC to defeat tea party extremists in Congress and NRA-backed candidates like Debbie Halvorson who perversely is running to represent the gun violence-ravaged south side of Chicago," Lane said.
The CREDO Super PAC has now turned its attention to a proposed statewide referendum in California, which would call on the U.S. Congress to approve a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. The Supreme Court's 2010 decision struck down key campaign finance laws that limited corporate and union spending in federal elections.
The referendum was introduced to the California legislature by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D), who said the ruling allowed billionaires to have a "disproportionate impact on our electoral system." CREDO has worked to pass similar resolutions in the states of Colorado and Montana, as well as the cities of San Francisco and Chicago.
"California would be the biggest state yet to throw its support behind a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United," said Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO. "Corporate money in politics is literally destroying our democracy and CREDO will help organize millions of Californians help us take back our elections."
Resolutions condemning Citizens United have also been introduced to the state legislatures of North Carolina, West Virginia, and New Hampshire. Though the resolutions are purely symbolic, organizers say the state by state and city by city effort helps build the momentum needed to overturn the ruling with a constitutional amendment.
More than 350 cities and 11 states have called on Congress to overturn the ruling, according to the advocacy group Public Citizen.
[Correction: Article updated with more accurate total of expenditures in 2012]
[Red headed woman holds a stack of money via Shutterstock]