At the municipal level in Boulder, we're seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars being donated by large corporations to defeat community-supported measures to ban fracking and create a municipal utility.
As citizens, we must resist this undermining of democracy by voting "no" on 310 and "yes" on 2H. We can also support the city's alternative to 310, Ballot issue 2E.
What's happening here in Boulder is a microcosm of what is happening at the national level, where corporations spent $7 billion in the 2012 elections to buy our politicians, according to opensecrets.org. A few years ago, almost 70 percent of Boulder voters approved a Move to Amend (movetoamend.org) resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would take corporate money out of our elections and negate constitutional rights for corporations.
Now there is a similar measure in Congress, The Democracy is for People Amendment (H.J.R. 34/S.J.R.11) sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.-21) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). This amendment to the U.S. Constitution would prevent corporations (profit and nonprofit) from spending to influence elections at the local, state and federal levels — allow only people to make political contributions and enable Congress to regulate these contributions. This amendment would be an important part of overturning the Citizens United ruling, a 2010 Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited spending in elections as corporate free speech, resulting in greater corporate corruption of Congress and the presidency.
A constitutional amendment is necessary because it is the only way to overturn Citizen United and other Supreme Court decisions that support corporate influence over our elections. At least 135 members of Congress, sixteen states and nearly 500 local municipalities have declared their support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen United. For more information, visit citizen.org.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, hasn't signed on as a co-sponsor on H.J.R 34, although the bill has been around for about six months. A Polis staff member told me that Polis supports a public financing bill instead. This is good and useful, but it won't take big corporate money out of our political system.
It would merely set up an alternative financing system for interested persons, leaving the present corrupting and corrosive system in place. Ask Polis to co-sponosor H.J. R. 34, The Democracy is for People Amendment, which will take corporate money out of our elections. Please send an email to Polis at polis.house.gov/contact or call him at (202) 225-2161 or (303) 484-9596.
Carolyn Bninski is on the staff of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.