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Agence France Presse

Obama Calls for Reforms in Election Funding

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US President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House in Washington. Obama has called on the Congress to pass reforms limiting the influence of special interest groups on US elections, saying the integrity of US democracy needed to be protected. (AFP/File/Jim Watson)

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama called on Congress on Saturday to pass reforms limiting the influence of special interest groups on US elections, saying the integrity of US democracy needed to be protected.

"What we are facing is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "And what is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy."

The appeal came after a recent US Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations, lobbyists, other special interest groups -- foreign and domestic -- the power to spend unlimited money to influence the outcome of US elections.

The ruling meant that corporations would be allowed to run political television advertisements ahead of national and local elections without telling voters who was paying for them, said Obama.

Congress therefore needed to adopt reforms under which campaign committees would have to reveal who was funding them, and their leaders or financiers would have to claim responsibility for their ads, the president argued.

Also, the reforms will restrict foreign corporations and foreign nationals from spending money in American elections, the president said.

"This shouldn't be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue," he argued.

"This is an issue that goes to whether or not we will have a government that works for ordinary Americans - a government of, by, and for the people.

"That's why these reforms are so important. And that's why I'm going to fight to see them passed into law."

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