Bernie Sanders and his supporters have struck a blow against Citizens United by setting a new record for individual donations through January in a presidential campaign.
The Sanders campaign broke down the numbers in a statement to reporters:
More than $20 million – almost all from online contributions averaging about $27 apiece – was donated to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in January during the run-up to Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
In another powerful demonstration of Sanders’ growing grassroots backing, the more than 770,000 individual contributions in January pushed the total number of donations for his entire campaign past the 3.25 million mark. That’s a record at this point in the campaign for any White House candidate.
Unlike other campaigns which rely heavily on wealthy donors who give the maximum allowed by law, more than 99.9 percent of Sanders’ donors can give again. In sharp contrast, Federal Election Commission reports indicate that more than 3 in 5 dollars given to Hillary Clinton come from donors who already have given her the maximum allowed by law.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said, “The numbers we’ve seen since Jan. 1 put our campaign on pace to beat Secretary Clinton’s goal of $50 million in the first quarter of 2016. Working Americans chipping in a few dollars each month are not only challenging but beating the greatest fundraising machine ever assembled.”
Bernie Sanders and his supporters are proving that individuals can compete with the big billionaires. Playing by the rules that were established by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision might not be the only way to win. Millions of individuals have chipped in to back a candidate who is fighting to change the campaign finance system, and in the process, they are shattering the conventional wisdom about the funding of political campaigns.
At the end of the day, for Citizens United to be defeated, those small campaign donations must be turned into victories in primaries and caucuses. But no matter the outcome of the race for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders had led millions of Americans towards a cleaner campaign finance system.
As the billionaires gripe about throwing their millions away on superPACs, Bernie Sanders is successfully challenging the campaign finance system one $27 donation at a time.