In a conference call, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters, “We must amend the constitutional to fix Citizens United.”
Her latest call to action was spurred by Monday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Montana’s 1912 law limiting corporate spending in political campaigns based on its 2010 Citizens United ruling. The court’s decision led Montana’s governor Brian Schweitzer (D) and Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger (R) to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision.
Pelosi’s press secretary, Drew Hammill, told Raw Story, “We were hopeful that the Montana case would be an opportunity for the Supreme Court to reconsider their decision in Citizen’s United, but they decided not to.” For Pelosi, that decision means a return to her four-point plan called DARE: disclose, amend, reform and elect.
Pelosi’s colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison, has already been making the rounds to gin up the grassroots support for what will be a long battle to pass an amendment. Pelosi told reporters, “It really has to thunder across the country” for an amendment to pass, but “we have to have disclosure and transparency in order to have a democratic process.”
Hammill noted that, when they were in power, House Democrats passed the DISCLOSE Act, which would have improved the now-limited disclosure of political donors, only to see it fail to garner the 60 votes necessary to achieve cloture and avoid a filibuster in the Senate. There’s a stripped-down version now pending in the Senate that Hammill said is similar to what political candidates already have to do: “It’s kind of like a ‘stand-by-your-ad’ thing.” But that bill doesn’t even go quite as far as the House bill introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) earlier this year. Neither is expected to make it onto House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) legislative agenda.
But Pelosi sees both the DISCLOSE Act and discussions of a constitutional amendment as “very much a mobilizing tool,” said Hammill, but everyone knows, “It’s a long journey.” The first step, he said, is “We have to win.”
In the long run, Pelosi sees campaign finance reform as a way to increase diversity in politics. “If we took out the role of money in politics,” Hammill said, “we would have a lot more women and minorities decide to run.” For instance, he added, “If there’s no way for a corporation to come in at the last minute and drop $500,000 on your race, more people will want to run.”
Pelosi noted, “You cannot have better policy if you do not change the politics.”
[Image via Public Citizen on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]