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Sept. 12, 2012

Connecticut Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Connecticut Legislature Signs Letter, Calls for Curbing Corporate Power Over Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Connecticut has taken a stand against the corporate takeover of elections, calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and related decisions, which allow corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. A majority of the members of both houses of the state Legislature have signed a letter calling for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment.

 The effort to gather signatures was initiated by state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, Common Cause of Connecticut and a Public Citizen activist. Slossberg and Rep. Russ Morin will be joined by local and national organizations at a press conference today at 11a.m. in Room 1c of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. They will present the letter, which was signed by 88 state representatives and 22 state senators.

By signing this letter, Connecticut’s leaders have echoed the voices of citizens in 10 towns across the state, including Hartford and New Haven, which have passed resolutions or are currently involved in efforts to pass resolutions in favor of an amendment. All of Connecticut’s delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives have publicly supported such an amendment, as has U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
 “Citizen’s United has taken power out of the hands of citizens and placed it in the pocketbooks of corporations and the super-rich,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, senior organizer for Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “The people of a democratic country should expect that their concerns will carry more weight than those of corporations. By signing this letter, Connecticut’s legislators are demanding that this expectation be met.”

Since the Citizens United decision, super PACs and other groups – many of which are able to hide the identities of their donors because they are trade associations or organizations formed under the nonprofit section of the tax code – have spent huge amounts to influence elections. This outside group spending is devoted overwhelmingly to negative attack ads. Most of this money comes from a few super-rich donors. So far in the 2012 elections, 100 people and their spouses have contributed 73 percent of super PAC funding.
Connecticut has become part of a national movement to pass a constitutional amendment. The Pew Research Center has found that across the board, Republicans, Democrats and Independents who had heard about Citizens United believe by an almost 4-to-1 margin that the ruling is having a negative effect.

Resolutions have been introduced or passed in 30 states and in more than 280 cities and towns nationwide. In addition, more than 125 members of Congress support a constitutional amendment. President Barack Obama also recently reiterated his support for an amendment on the website Reddit, where he said in an interview, “I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United.”

 “Unless we aim to turn over control of our elections to Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sheldon Adelson and a very few others, we need a constitutional amendment to reset our campaign finance system and to re-establish the principle that democracy means rule by the people, not giant corporations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

To learn more about Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign, visit http://DemocracyIsForPeople.org.

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