Adam Lioz

Recent Articles

More Than Corruption Threatens the Integrity of Our Democracy

AP Images/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
W hat does it mean to corrupt an elected official? A coal executive walks into a member of Congress’s office with a $100,000 check in hand and says, “I will hand you this check if, and only if, you vote against any fracking permits on federal land—it’s bad for the local water supply, and besides I don’t need the competition.” The Representative accepts the check and then votes “nay” when the time comes. Is that corrupt? Most people would say yes—it’s a paradigm case. After all, there is a quid pro quo exchange—you do this, I give you that. Does it make a difference if that check goes into the Congressman’s personal pocket, his campaign account, or to an allied Super PAC? Probably not to most people. The Congressman wants to be re-elected, probably more than he wants a Porsche, so either of the latter scenarios certainly provides a thing of value. Now what if an environmental group walks into the same Congressman’s office and says “We’re here to talk to you about the upcoming vote on...

McCutcheon Oral Arguments Point Way Backward, and Forward

Yesterday, despite most of official Washington being on lockdown, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on McCutcheon v. FEC —a case many are referring to as “Citizens United II.” The case is a challenge to the total cap on the amount that one wealthy donor can give to all federal candidates, parties, and PACs, known as “aggregate contribution limits.” An Alabama coal industry executive named Shaun McCutcheon (joined by the RNC) thinks that the current $123,200 cap—more than twice what an average family makes in a year—is a burdensome restriction on his political participation. So, he’s asking the Court to lift the cap, freeing him to kick in more than $3.5 million to Republican candidates and party committees. Senator Mitch McConnell, who proudly embraces his reputation as the “Darth Vader of campaign finance reform,” has asked the justices to go further by overturning key parts of the Court’s seminal campaign finance case and striking all contribution limits, including the cap on...

McCutcheon Money: How Citizens United 2 Could Increase the Power of Elite Donors

Next Tuesday, October 8, the Supreme Court is scheduled (pending shutdown nonsense) to hear oral arguments on McCutcheon v. FEC , a challenge to the total cap on the amount of money one wealthy individual is permitted to contribute to all federal candidates, parties, and PACs. The current “aggregate contribution limit” is $123,200—twice the median household income in the U.S. As you might imagine, this cap affects very few people; just 1,219 people were at, over, or within 10 percent of the limit for the 2012 election cycle. I’m guessing you are not sitting on $150,000 you’d like put into politics next year—so, why should you care? Here’s why: This tiny group of people already has substantial sway in our election system, and a bad ruling in McCutcheon would give them even more. Demos and U.S. PIRG have worked together to project that striking aggregate contribution limits would bring more than $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 elections...

Is McCutcheon v. FEC the Next Citizens United?

Are we ready for the next Citizens United ? Can our democracy, and Americans’ faith in government, take another body blow from the Supreme Court? An unprecedented group of organizations with nearly 10 million members and supporters—representing small businesses, working families, young people, communities of color, environmentalists, and more— have joined Demos to urge the Roberts Court not to call up this question just three years after the most infamous case of the 21st century thus far. This October the Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to caps on the total amount that a wealthy donor can give to all candidates, parties, and political action committees (PACs) combined—known as “aggregate contribution limits.” The current limit ($123,200) is already more than twice what the average American family earns in a year—not exactly a restrictive burden on peoples' political participation. If the Court strikes down the limit, a single donor could contribute more than $3.5 million to...