Students listening to guest speaker. Courtesy of Katie Frisoli
By Claire Prudhomme ft. Emily Prendergast
In the events of the upcoming 2020 election cycle, the College Democrats hosted Craig Holman to discuss campaign finance and lobbying. Holman is a lobbyist and campaign finance expert with a Ph.D. in political science, he is active in lobbying congress for campaign finance reform as well as promoting governmental ethics. On Tuesday, January 29th, Holman discussed his expertise in these areas and spoke to the Catholic University students about how they contribute to this area of politics.
Holman currently works for the organization “Public Citizen,” a consumer rights advocacy group. In the past, he has worked with the Democratic caucus to pass legislation against pay-to-play ethics, where government contracts are granted to bidding businesses with campaign contributions, which also regulates the flow of money in politics.
The event hosted around 30 students from both College Dems and outside students in the Pryz Great room. Students were eager to hear Holman’s views and perspectives on the intricacies of campaign finance. Christian Quigley, a senior politics and pre law major, said that the event was a good representation of the current state of the country.
“There are very few people in this country that have the ability to get the ears of our politicians through our money,” Quigley said. “It shows that our democracy is becoming very selective and that is not what our country is about.”
One of the essential parts contributing to modern campaign finance rules is the Supreme Court case Citizens United versus the Federal Elections Commission ruling in 2010. The ruling in this case declared that the distribution of money in campaigns is a practice of free speech. From this ruling, dark money and Super PACs—dark money referring to non-disclosed political spending by organizations and Super PACs referring to organizations that pool money from internal member to donate to campaigns—have been controlling political influence . This allows for wealthy people, groups, and companies to fund candidates and utilize these contributions to promote their personal agendas.
College Democrats President Tommy Gambino. Courtesy of Katie Frisoli
Tommy Gambino, president of the College Democrats, said the event provided a unique perspective for the organization
“This is an incredibly important topic that does not get too much attention, but which is so important for sustaining our democracy,” Gambino said. “We are so thankful that Mr. Holman was able to come in tonight and have this conversation with us, especially with the election cycle starting to really get underway.”
During the Tuesday night event, Holman discussed how in the current election cycle, campaign finance is changing the process of the current election. He argued that the decision in the Citizens United case alters the democratic process and is in desperate need of reform.
During his speech, he spoke about the ways that he advocated for the H.R.1 bill, also known as the “For the People Act of 2019.” This bill expands voting rights, strengthens ethics rules that are essential to politics, limits partisan gerrymandering, and limits private money donations in the political arena. Regardless of this bill being passed, it is estimated that more than 10 billion dollars will be spent on this election cycle towards campaigning and extraneous fees by the candidates. This estimate surpasses any amount spent in any election cycle before.
In the event on Tuesday, Holman discussed that in the current election cycle, campaign finance is changing the process of the current election. He argued that the decision in the Citizens United case alters the democratic process and is in desperate need of reform.
The next College Democrat event will be the Iowa Caucus Watch Party on Monday, February 3rd at 7:30 PM in the Pryz Great Room B.