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‘We will only get louder’: Dozens of communities vote to boot big money from politics

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Citizens in dozens of communities voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which opened the door for the super-rich and corporations to trample democracy.

As they headed to the polls to vote in what turned out to be the most expensive midterm election in history—one in which outside money from undisclosed sources played an outsized role and the number of small individual donors shrank—voters across the country made clear their desire to end corporate personhood and get big money out of politics.

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According to Wisconsin Move to Amend, the state chapter of the national coalition working to overturn Citizens United, residents of 12 Wisconsin communities voted in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to reflect that:

1. Only human beings—not corporations, limited liability companies, unions, nonprofit organizations, or similar associations—are endowed with Constitutional rights; and

2. Money is not speech and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limited political speech.

The local measures, which were all similarly worded, gained anywhere from 70 percent of the vote in Milwaukee County to 83 percent support in the village of Park Ridge. There are now 54 jurisdictions in Wisconsin that have called for such an amendment, in addition to 16 state legislatures and well over 500 municipalities nationwide.

Paradoxically, Wisconsin voters also re-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday, whose success can be credited at least in part to the post-Citizens United era of campaign finance.

In 2012, in the wake of the failed effort to recall Walker, journalist Amy Goodman wrote: “Central to Walker’s win was a massive infusion of campaign cash, saturating the Badger State with months of political advertising. His win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.”

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Also on Tuesday, Move to Amend measures in Alachua County, Florida and the Ohio towns of Chagrin Falls and Mentor all passed with at least two-thirds of the vote.

“It’s pretty obvious that in each and every election that more and more money is coming from fewer sources,” Ohio’s Move to Amend coordinator Greg Coleridge told the Plain Dealer. “It’s toxic to democracy. Voters are saying that they’ve had enough.”

In Massachusetts, voters in 18 districts were asked: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that 1) rights protected under the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only and 2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?”

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While there was no official tally of which cities and towns voted in favor of the non-binding ballot question, the measure appeared to have won solid support in communities all over the state, including AppletonFitchburg, and Hopkinton.

The resounding victories should send a sharp message to Congress, said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, national director of Move to Amend.

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“Nearly all Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed,” she said. “It is time for Congress to pass the We the People Amendment and send it to the states for ratification. The leadership of both parties need to realize that their voters are clamoring for this amendment, and we are only going to get louder.”

Originally published at Common Dreams

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Republicans claim Democrats leaked John Bolton’s book that was given to the White House — then quickly back down

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In a bizarre twist, Republicans are blaming Democrats for releasing information included in John Bolton's.

Speaking in a line of Republicans, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained that it was clear Democrats were part of some kind of conspiracy to turn senators against the speedy trial the White House wanted. With the revelation that Bolton confirmed President Donald Trump was indeed trying to bribe Ukraine, a very few Republican senators are more willing to call him as a witness.

The problem, of course, with Meadows' accusations is that the manuscript was never sent to Democrats. According to the New York Times report, Bolton sent the book to the White House for security checks to ensure nothing he put in the book was classified.

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Pressure mounted on Republicans on Monday to call former national security advisor John Bolton as a witness at Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial following explosive new revelations about the US president's dealings with Ukraine.

As Clinton impeachment investigator Ken Starr resumed the White House defense of Trump on the Senate floor, at least three Republican senators indicated they would favor hearing testimony from the 71-year-old Bolton.

According to The New York Times, Bolton, in a draft of his upcoming book, says that Trump told him in August that he wanted to freeze military aid to Ukraine until Kiev opened an investigation into his potential November election rival Joe Biden.

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White House lawyer says politicians must separate their business and political interests — even though Trump never has

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On Monday, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann tried to change the subject of the impeachment trial to GOP conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden's work for Ukraine — and made an impassioned argument for overhauling ethics laws to prevent conflicts of interest for senior government officials.

"I actually think that this is something that is undisputed, that Ukraine had a particularly bad corruption problem," said Herschmann. "It was so corrupt that dealing with corruption and solving the corruption was a priority for our U.S. foreign policy. Here is how one knowledgeable observer of Ukraine put it in 2015. Quote, 'It is not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a prosecutor fight corruption, the office of prosecutor general needs to be reformed, and the judiciary needs to be overhauled, and the energy sector needs to be competitive and ruled by market principles and not sweetheart deals. It is not enough to push through the laws to increase transparency with regard to the official sources of income. Senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interests and their government responsibilities.'"

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