April 18, 2012
Congressional Summit: Lawmakers and Activist Organizations Demand End to Corporate Dominance of Political Campaigns
Congressional Champions Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A summit today featuring members of Congress, local and state elected officials, national advocacy organizations and activists demonstrates broad support and growing momentum for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissiondecision.
Eight members of Congress are slated to come together at the Capitol Visitors Center to explain their support for an amendment to undo the court’s 2010 ruling. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) convened the summit, joined by colleagues on the Senate and House side, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), John Larson (D-Conn.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
The summit will showcase a range of initiatives at the state and local levels that are generating support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. That ruling allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums to sway elections, and since then, corporations and wealthy individuals have poured enormous sums into federal campaigns.
“Today’s summit shows that a movement for a constitutional amendment to take back our democracy has gone from being considered a ‘pipe dream’ to the mainstream,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said. “The momentum generated at the local and state level country is building fast. We hope the commitments made here today spur even greater action from other members of Congress.”
Featured at the summit were key activists and elected officials from Maine, Maryland, New Mexico and Vermont who shared their stories of victory:
- Portland, Maine, City Councilor David A. Marshall worked with local activists and organizations to sponsor and pass a resolution before the Portland City Council calling for a constitutional amendment.
- Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin spearheaded a successful effort to persuade a majority of the Maryland General Assembly to sign a letter to Congress calling for a constitutional amendment
- State Rep. Mimi Stewart was the lead sponsor of a resolution calling for an amendment introduced in the New Mexico State Legislature. The resolution passed with broad support in the state House and Senate this past February.
- Vermont activist and advocate Georgina Forbes was part of a network of activist leaders in the state who led successful efforts to get resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment introduced and passed in 65 towns across the state on March 6.
“The stories shared by these local leaders show that in town after town, state after state, there is widespread concern about the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on our democracy – and are doing something about it,” said Mark Hays, coordinator of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “As more local and state efforts get under way, we expect to see even more victories for democracy this spring.”
Also to be highlighted at the summit is Resolutions Week, a nationwide initiative spearheaded by Public Citizen in partnership with other organizations, aimed at passing local resolutions that call for a constitutional amendment the week of June 11. More than 5,400 people in all 50 states have signed up to push local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Public Citizen and its partners in the Resolutions Week initiative are providing information to activists about how to approach local council members, how to get people involved and how to publicize their efforts. Organizational partners in this initiative include People For the American Way, Move to Amend, Corporate Accountability International, Main Street Alliance, Common Cause, Alliance for Democracy, Bullfrog Films, California Church Impact, the Coffee Party, Communication Workers of America, Democracy Unlimited, Get the Dough Out, Story of Stuff and U.S. PIRG. The initiative is also supported by the offices of Sanders, Deutch, Edwards and Ellison.