You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Keith Ellison
Published: Tuesday 12 June 2012
“Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 million, four times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.”

After Wisconsin, A Movement to Get Money Out of Politics

Article image

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kept his job, but with a high price tag. In a state of only six million people, $60 million was poured into the race, $50 million of which went to Governor Walker. And almost half of that was spent by outside groups -- most of them not based in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was not an isolated event. Since 2010, Super PACs and corporations have spent record amounts of money in elections nationwide. Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 millionfour times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.

Most of this spending would not have been possible without the Supreme Court'sCitizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision. Before Citizens United, individuals could not contribute more than $10,000 to Wisconsin candidates and political committees (PACs) -- corporate entities or groups of people that contribute to political campaigns. But this all changed when the Supreme Court allowed anyone to spend an unlimited amount on PACs and let corporations and wealthy individuals spend unlimited money on political campaign advertisements. Due to a loophole in state law, Walker could also raise unlimited amounts from individual donors while his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, had a limit on the dollar amount of contributions.

So how do progressives move forward? The Wisconsin election shows that we will not have a government of, by and for the people as long as we have politicians who are bought and paid for by special interests. Powerful corporations and wealthy donors spent millions on the Wisconsin race because they benefit most from the system: tax loopholes for corporations, tax handouts for the rich, while America's heroes -- cops, firefighters, and teachers -- pay the tab.

We need to put power back in the hands of the people. That's why this week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which I Co-Chair with Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, is partnering with local governments across the country for Resolutions Week, a nationwide effort to get money out of politics. Throughout the week, local leaders will introduce resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I am proud to announce that in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the City Council will adopt its own resolution on Friday, June 15.

We are not the only ones -- more than 100 state and local governments have already introduced similar resolutions. In March, the Alaska Senate passed an amendment proposing that Congress and the president pass a constitutional amendment to stop limitless independent expenditures to influence elections, and the California State Assembly passed a similar resolution. Montana is acting to overturn Citizens United with a petition on their ballot in November.

Several members of Congress have introduced constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United. While protecting the freedom of the press, my own Get Corporate Money out of Politics Amendment clearly states that corporations are not people. They do not vote, they do not serve in office and they should not be able to buy our elections.

If we learned anything from Wisconsin, it's that money should not be able to drown out the voice of the people. But by working together, we can restore a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people.

You've got to go to the core

You've got to go to the core of the problem. Questions: What is it in America today? And what can be done about it? Is America still a democracy? Or has it already become a plutocracy? If you accept the definition that a plutocracy is when the very rich - the billionaires and the serious multimillionaires - $ 100 million and up - have a disproportionate influence in politics and economics, then yes, America is a plutocracy today. If you define it as a direct control by the very rich, then no, it isn't YET. But, to be sure, it is on that slippery road. The plutocrats are in the business of hijacking, of - let us not be afraid of the word - stealing the American democracy from the American people. They must be stopped before it is too late. How? I realize that limiting wealth is STILL a taboo subject in the United States. But, ultimately, it is the only way to do it. Just 'they must pay their fair share in taxes'is not enough. The plutocrats must disappear, period. But, of course, they will not go quietly. They will fight with everything they have got, and they have got a lot. The power relations are largely stacked in their favor TODAY. But, sooner or later, that will change, because it has to: the American people MUST get their democracy back. Not only for themselves, but also for the rest of the world. America's influence in the world is immense...

Because of the Citizens

Because of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, from the United States of America's Supreme Court ruling, I want A Constitutional Amendment to the United States of America's Constitution Article 1, to clearly define that an Individual is a Living Breathing Member of the Homo-Sapiens Species and that Corporations, Companies, Institutions, or any kind of Organization are not Individuals and do not have the same Rights as do Living Breathing Individuals. I also want it to clearly state that only Congress has the Right and the Ability to place limits upon What, Where, When and How an individual may make Contributions to a Political Party or to an Individual running for a Political Office.

An Individual may only make a Contribution to a Political Party or Individual Political Candidate that lives or operates within the State that the Individual Contributor lives in 51% of the Year. We the People want outsiders stopped from affecting elections in our home states. The Individual making the contribution has to send it to the Federal Election Commission specifying the Political Party or the Political Candidate they want the funds to go to. The Federal Election Commission would then once a month, send the Contribution to the Political party or the Individual Political Candidate but it would be Anonymous so that neither the Political Party nor the Individual Candidate would feel an obligation to the Donor.

Political Action Committees may only advertise their Support for, or Against an Issue that they have an interest in. They MUST NEVER be permitted to be for or against an Individual Candidate or Political Party.

First, Citizens United, as a

First, Citizens United, as a First Amendment case, had nothing to do with the antiquated 14th Amendment doctrine of corporate personhood.
See this article on Corporate Personhood

Second, a constitutional amendment is the wrong strategy. See this article about why a constitutional amendment is such a bad idea.\

The Constitution already says in Article 1, Secs. 4&5, what you want to amend it to say. What could be more foolish. The people who have propagandized you into thinking an amendment is necessary do not understand what is already in the Constitution.
Reversing a Supreme Court decision does not require a new Constitutional Amendment. Not only does it not require an amendment but an amendment will not likely be effective in getting money out of politics, as explained in this article. Since the problem is the Supreme Court's refusal to enforce the Constitution, the solution is not an amendment but a law authorized by Art III, Sec 2 to strip the Court of authority to insert its own political views in the Constitution.

Want to send an effective

Want to send an effective message? Join the Kick the Bums Out Party.
In American usage, a bum is someone who's job is holding a hand out for hand out. There are varieties like beach bums, Dharma bums, etc. No one in this society is a bigger bum than the politician who has a greedy hand out for political contributions as a full time occupation. The political bums even have their own Union with two locals – one is called Republican and the other Democrat. The union is just a bunch of bums organized to ask for political handouts full time so their members can stay in their jobs and prevent anyone else working their corrupt side of the street.

Until we kick all these bums out of offfice and bust up their corrupt union by taking its money away, we will not have a democracy. So lets focus first on this one accomplishment before we start talking about what we would do if we had a democracy.

The Kick the Bums Out Party does not have to ask for contributions, or even run candidates. They just vote to kick the bums out. If the challenger to an incumbent is a member of the party, all the better. All the challenger has to do to be a member is pledge to exit gracefully after their first term in office, and while in office vote for nothing at all – no budget, wars, nothing – until the government passes and enforces comprehensive legislation to prohibit the bums' paradise they have built to give taxpayers' money away. The kickbacks these bums that make to for sustaining that system for giving away taxpayers' money and creating profit opportunities at the expense of citizens would be outlawed. KBOP makes one campaign promise: to outlaw all poltical panhandling by banning money from politics. It can be done, like Richard Avard says in this thread.

One of the important ways it can be done is dmillerfla's suggestion in this thread that we reclaim the public airwaves. Here is a detailed plan to do that -

Jeffrey Hill is also right that the Montana Supreme Court shows the way.

The states can do it on their own, provided the Supreme Court will comply with the 11th Amendment, or if not the KBOPpers can make Congress exercise their Exceptions Clause (Art. III, Sec. 2) power to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to even hear challenges to anti-corruption laws.
This would stop the Supreme Court from continuing to violate the Constitution and imposing the tyramny of plutocrats.

While I agree that a

While I agree that a constitutional amendment is not the correct response to Citizens United, I must take issue with the KBOP concept. Part of the reason that the Houses of Congress have become dens of avaricious vermin is the very fact of terms limits. Every other election cycle we are guaranteed of a lame duck whose only interest at that point is to get as big a scoop of the public's ice cream as he/she can. No longer being bound by a need to cater to his or her constituents for the purposes of re-election. It also assures that just as they are figuring out where the executive washroom is, they're outta there. No time to develop any legislative "chops". Mediocrity guaranteed. Self interest over voters interest always at the fore. Without term limits every election becomes an opportunity for the pol to demonstrate their devotion to those who hold the keys to his/her re-election; the voters. They might actually become accomplished at being a legislator, they might even become sensitized to the view history will hold of them. I don't think that would hurt them and it might help us. And if they prove to be mendacious little shits, we vote them out.

Thank you, Larry Kachimba.

Thank you, Larry Kachimba. You're one of the few sane voices here.

In order to get a Constitutional amendment passed and ratified, we'd first need to elect a majority of politicians who weren't dependent on money to run their campaigns. And we can't do that by voting in elections that are controlled by money.

Thank you Mark for

Thank you Mark for understanding the scam being sold by the amenders. Not voting works if the incumbent loses as a result.
Otherwise it does not change anything.
A more targeted approach is to vote the Kick the Bums Out Party in every election until the bums get the message to either enact comprehensive legislation outlawing political panhandling or find another job.
We cannot do this alone - we need to join together to make this message effective, but that can be done. See
To join the KBO Party you just need to pledge to kick the bums out and let them know why.
Admnittedly, this strategy is only for those who do not drink the two corrupt parties' kool aid

I'm sorry but I find myself

I'm sorry but I find myself among those progressives who fervently agree with everything in the article except for the contention that "America's heroes -- police, firemen, and teachers -- pay the tab." They are neither all heroes, nor do they pay the tab for all the tax breaks for the wealthy etc. Non-wealthy taxpayers pay the tab, and the majority of them get far less in benefits, if any at all, than government employees. Yes I want corporate money out of politics, but I also want public service union employees to get behind repeal of tax breaks for the wealthy and job-exporting corporations, and THEN get in line for their fair share (only) of the proceeds.

Absolutely right the

Absolutely right the Democratic Party and the Unions spent about $44 Billion on the Wisconsin Election beating a dead horse as the people realized the social injustice of government workers earning substantially more than private sector workers.

But a simple solution to the cost of elections is to provide free TV and Radio Advertisement to both parties because that is the major cost. This can be done by simple agreement of the two parties through the not so Federal, 'Federal Election Commission' or more in a more complicated way through a Constitutional Amendment.

We the people own the airways and we license the users so we can tell them they must make the free airtime available as a condition of the license and by consent between the parties they can prohibit other spending; or we can threaten a Constitutional Amendment.

Hey Dimiller, where did you

Hey Dimiller, where did you get the figure 44 billion dollars spent in WI. Where is social injustice in earning a living wage? Why don't you try to better yourself instead of trying to tear people down? This is what all the jealous dimillers do, they cry about those making a few bucks more a week and having good benefits, but they close their eyes to the excesses perpetrated by the 1%.

The impact of resolutions is

The impact of resolutions is that it sends a message to the government that change needs to occur. The change needs to occur at the federal level. I would not support changing the supreme courts power, that is a little over the top. There are other reforms that need to happen for the justices.

Ralph Nader recently made a

Ralph Nader recently made a good point--go grassroots in every Congressional District, electing representative who are sensitive to the wishes of the people in their districts. With responsive legislators, it would be relatively easy to get good laws passed, and would be a simpler process than a constitutional amendment.

Montana's lead from the 1800s

Montana's lead from the 1800s is what we should be following since the corrupting influence of money on the electoral and legislative processes in that state was eliminated by the voters long ago.

Montanans have been there and done that!
That's why they are challenging Citizens United vs FEC.

We need much more reform what

We need much more reform what what is presented by Keith Ellicson We need to ban all money period. We need to ban advertizing of any kind Selecting our Leaders was never met to be a Circus as it is now. Politics involves the People hiring people such as themselves to represent them in this Republic These Representatives are put ioto a position of "Public Trust" such as is a trustee in a Private Trust in the private business sector

Check my website: Youth for

The interesting thing about

The interesting thing about that election was of barrett giving up before the votes were counted. The lady was correct to try to slap him..... so many people voting that it was not realistic to quit that early..... in other words he gave/presented the election to walker.... and no one was speaking about that. i guess this will be the same for the fall elections especially the run for president... elections are money makers and until they treat as giving a receipt with a unique number for each vote anything is up for grabs. The people that make the voting machines make the atms where each transaction has a unique id but not for voting???... The real truth is they cheated again in wisconsin and had a lot of voted not counted...

We should get Ellison out of

We should get Ellison out of politics along with the money if he does not know that resolutions are entirely useless and have no legal impact whatsoever. People who think they need to do an entirely useless act, which only serves to get local poltitician off the hook and misleads people into thinking a constitutional amendment is a viable means to get money out of politics need to find a more effective means of sending messages to Congress. Constitutional amendment is a fraud promoted by professional activists as a misleading cash cow that could never succeed and is supported by Democrats who never intend to abandon their business plan but will lie that they are opposed to money in politics.
If Ellison were serious , rather than sending gullible but well meaning citizens on a wild goose chase after irrelevant resolutions which are no more than the usual political exercise in passing the buck, he would himself take responsibility to sponsor legislation right now to strip the Supreme Court of jurisidiction to decide questions of money in politics

Comment with your Facebook account

Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...