Russ Feingold’s PAC, Progressives United, Working for Campaign Reform

Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold has formed a political action committee (PAC) to fight against corporate influences in political campaigns.

Feingold’s PAC, Progressives United, launched on February 16 as an “effort dedicated to mitigating the effects of, and eventually overturning, the Citizens United decision … [and] to elect leaders at all levels of government who will stand up for progressive ideals.” The Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporate funding of political campaigns could not be limited under the First Amendment.

In a web video introducing Progressives United, Feingold called the ruling “one of the most lawless decisions in the history of our country.”

“As progressives, it’s time we made our voices heard,” Feingold said. “It’s time we stood up to the total dominance of corporate power … This moment is critical. Let’s unite progressives around the country to fight back.”

Progressives United seeks to mobilize voters online for a grassroots campaign to “curtail corporate influence on politics.” The PAC will support progressive candidates running for local and national office, and promises to hold politicians and the media accountable for acting in the interest of lobbyists and corporate donors.

An outspoken critic of wasteful government spending, Feingold declined Congressional pay raises during his three terms in office and regularly returned the savings to the Treasury Department. Progressives United also promises to maintain Feingold’s financial values. “[We] will never compromise on our integrity in the allies we work with, the candidates we support, or the donations we accept,” the PAC’s web site states.

Feingold spent much of his career in the Senate working for financial reform, particularly in political campaigns. He co-authored with Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, which prohibited organizations and groups from giving unregulated contributions to political parties. In its ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decided not to uphold previous requirements for disclosure of donations by ad sponsors.

“In one fell swoop, the court not only overturned a hundred years of settled law, but it also set a dangerous new precedent for our democracy,” Feingold stated in his video.

Feingold, who did not accept corporate donations during his Senate re-election campaign in 2010, lost his seat to Tea Party candidate Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s first Republican senator in 18 years. Johnson received $1.5 million in television ad buys from the conservative interest group Club for Growth and pledged to spend $15 million of his own money to win the election.