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Small business coalition calls for overthrow of Citizens United

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, January 20, 2012 15:59 EDT
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A businessman wearing a pig mask. Photo: iStock, all rights reserved.
 
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A recent survey of small business owners, carried out by the American Sustainable Business Council, found that most of those polled believe the influx of private money into public elections is a bad thing, and that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United must be overturned.

The poll (PDF) revealed that 66 percent of the 500 small business owners surveyed felt that the presence of corporations with license to spend an unlimited sum to influence elections ultimately harms their interests. Nine percent of those polled said that the Supreme Court’s two-year-old decision was a positive development. A further 19 percent of respondents said the decision was neither good nor bad, and 6 percent did not know.

When phrased differently — with respondents being asked how they view the role of money in politics — a full 88 percent said they held a negative view, while just 7 percent were neutral and 4 percent were positive. Sixty-eight percent said they view it very negatively.

The 100,000-company business group added that its online petitions have attracted the signatures of 1,000 small business owners, all of whom call for a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United.

“As a financial services firm it is important for us and all investors to know that the playing field is level when we make investments,” Matthew Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, explained in a media advisory released by the business council. “Right now, the game is rigged in favor of those corporations with deep pockets to change public policy for their particular narrow interests. We have to work to change this.”

The group’s survey comes at exactly the right time: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced on Thursday a constitutional amendment that would make federal elections public property, financed purely by the people and not by special interest money.

A number of other Members of Congress, including Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have proposed constitutional amendments to overturn the Citizens United ruling. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennet of (D-CO) have also introduced a less ambitious constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states the authority to regulate the campaign finance system.

Kucinich’s proposed amendment would completely bar interest groups from influencing elections by requiring that all federal campaigns be financed exclusively with public funds and prohibit any expenditures from any other source.

“We must rescue American democracy from unlimited corporate money,” Kucinich said. “This is the most fundamental issue facing the future of our nation. With corporate, private financing we have officials working for the interest of corporations. With public financing we have officials working for the public. And public financing will actually save taxpayers’ money, by eliminating any incentive of public officials to reward campaign contributors with taxpayer subsidies.”

With prior reporting by Eric W. Dolan.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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