March 28, 2013

Groups Applaud West Virginia House for Passing Resolution Calling for Constitutional Amendment to Fight Money in Politics

Democracy Groups Applaud Effort To Return Democracy to The People

A coalition of good government groups joins together today to commend West Virginia’s House of Delegates for approving a resolution that asks Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to help end the corrosive influence of money in politics and restore constitutional rights to the people – not corporations. The resolution passed with bipartisan support. A similar resolution is awaiting approval in the Judiciary Committee of the West Virginia Senate, which has until the end of the legislative session, April 13, to pass it.

If the full Senate joins the House of Delegates, West Virginia will be the 12th state to echo a call being heard nationwide for a constitutional response to the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy that has inundated elections since the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In West Virginia, the 2012 election brought special attention to the problem of money in politics, with the state launching a new pilot program for public funding in judicial races. Also, former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, who lost his re-election bid, was reportedly outspent by a margin of 6-to-1. This includes $1.6 million that went toward negative ads financed by the Center for Individual Freedom, an outside group that does not disclose its donors.

To date, 11 states and the District of Columbia have shown support for a constitutional amendment. More than 500 local governments have called for an amendment, as have more than 125 members of Congress. President Barack Obama has expressed support for an amendment as well.

“Our democracy thrives on debate and free speech, but that discourse is undermined when huge amounts of money can be thrown into the process without any limits or disclosure of who is behind the effort,” said House Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne). “I am pleased that the House voted to send Congress this message calling for a constitutional amendment to correct this.”

Leaders from groups involved in pushing for this resolution said the following:

“This is great progress for West Virginians, who today reminded us that democracy means rule by the people, not rule by the corporation,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

“West Virginia is now closer to being the 12th state to call for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs FEC ruling did in unleashing the floodgates of unrestricted corporate cash into our elections,” said Gary Zuckett, executive director of West Virginia Citizens Action Group and co-founder of West Virginians for Democracy. “We’re now looking to our Senate to concur in sending this message to Congress.”

“We are extremely pleased that Speaker Thompson and members of the West Virginia House of Delegates recognize the importance of this resolution. I think West Virginians are pretty fed up with mysterious out-of-state money buying local, state and federal elections. HR 9 makes it clear that our legislators are listening to us,” said Barbara Frierson, member of West Virginians for Democracy.

“There should be a process where there is full disclosure and transparency. Whether you support or oppose someone it should be out there on record. Adoption of this resolution moves us toward a relook at the constitution. Supporting these resolutions shouldn’t be about party affiliation because it has an effect on everyone, and this resolution moves us closer to another state saying this topic should be looked at through the constitution,” said Elaine Harris, representative for Communications Workers of America.

Here is a complete list of organizations supporting this resolution:

AFSCME West Virginia
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) West Virginia
American Friends Service Committee
Coal River Mountain Watch
Communications Workers of America (CWA) – West Virginia
Fairness West Virginia
Marshall University Democracy Matters
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Public Citizen
SEIU 1199
Seneca2
Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC)
West Virginia Citizens Action Group
West Virginians for Democracy
West Virginia Rivers Coalition

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