(MintPress) – Congressman Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a landmark constitutional amendment Monday designed to limit runaway campaign spending by corporations and wealthy individuals in U.S. elections.
Although elections have long been awash in special interest money, the proposed constitutional amendment is designed to overturn the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that extended constitutional rights to corporations and further eroded democratic freedoms in the United States.
Supported by the Move to Amend Coalition, supporters of the amendment have sent a strong message to corporate executives attempting to buy influence on Capitol Hill, “corporations are not people and money is not a form of free speech.”
The amendment stipulates that “the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only” — a clear affront to corporate executives, some of the largest campaign contributors in the country.
Language in the amendment also emphasizes the need for transparency stating, “Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.”
Currently, individuals virtually can give unlimited sums to secretive Political Action Committees or “PACs” without disclosing the origin of the money or the amount spent on behalf of a candidate or political party.
Growing public opposition to Citizens United decision
Monday’s announcement was sparked by growing national opposition to the 2010 Citizens United decision. To date, more than 280 cities and six states have passed resolutions in opposition to Supreme Court ruling. The city of Chicago became the largest city to join the coalition after the city council passed a resolution July 2012.
The issue receives strong bipartisan support, even in communities that are overwhelmingly conservative. “Polls show that 80 percent of the American public is with us consistently. When we put this issue on the ballot, even in conservative communities, bills pass by 70, 80 percent — supermajorities,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, national director of Move to Amend in a recent statement to Mint Press News.
These actions are largely driven by the Move to Amend Coalition, a group of more than 262,000 Americans, who have spoken out for the need to create a transparent, accountable election process.
Although the 262,000 signatures represent a small fraction of the American public, Move to Amend’s national exposure has been limited before the amendment announcement Monday.
“In terms of television, the main way people get their news, the media has not covered this issue. Those signatures have been through word of mouth, grassroots organizing, and social media,” added Sopoci-Belknap.
Indeed, those with the most money speak loudest in Washington, confirming the reality expressed by recently-retired Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who said: “Washington has become an auction house where policies are sold to the highest bidder.”
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the candidate who spends the most on his campaign wins 90 percent of the time, a statistic showing the importance of large campaign contributions in Congressional elections.
With more than $6 billion spent in the 2012 election cycle, the move to more transparent, publicly-financed elections could not be more salient.
Until that time, Move To Amend has vowed to carry forward the campaign. “Our work is still to reach out to the American public. The main thing Move to Amend groups are going to do is educate, mobilize, and organize,” Sopoci-Belknap said.