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Arkansans and National Groups Launch Ballot Initiative to Overturn Citizens United

Note: The advisory was updated to reflect that Ben Cohen will no longer be able to participate.

Media Advisory * Arkansas Democracy Coalition

May 14, 2015

Arkansans and National Groups Launch Ballot Initiative to Overturn Citizens United

National Democracy Leaders Join State Residents for a March on the Capitol

WHAT: March to the state Capitol, followed by a press conference at which local and national democracy leaders will announce a new effort to obtain voter support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling. That 2010 decision gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.  

The march will be led by 81-year old Rhana Bazzini, who last year marched more than 400 miles in support of a constitutional amendment. Participants and activists will protest the recent flood of money from outside groups and the wealthy into Arkansas’ state and local elections. In 2014, nearly $68.3 million was spent on the race for Arkansas’ U.S. Senate seat. Of that, $39.8 million was spent by outside groups – those not affiliated with the candidates. The race was among the top five most expensive U.S. Senate races in outside spending.

From business leaders to local public servants, the people of the Natural State will discuss their plan to advance a statewide ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment. Their goal is to ensure that the voices of Arkansas voters are not drowned out by corporations and the wealthy.

Previous attempts to place an initiative on the ballot have been rejected by the state attorney general, but organizers are hopeful that a version of the initiative resubmitted on May 11 will be approved. The attorney general has until May 25 to decide.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 19 – march
12:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19 – press conference

WHERE: March begins at MacArthur Park, corner of East 9th and Commerce Streets, Little Rock
Press conference will be held outside the Capitol at 500 Woodlane St. In case of rain, it will be held in the second floor rotunda of the Capitol building.

WHO: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock)
Rhana Bazzini, leader of 400-mile march for an amendment
John Bonifaz, co-founder and president, Free Speech for People
Jonah Minkoff-Zern, campaign director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is for People Campaign
Rio Tazewell, campaign coordinator, People For the American Way
Scott Foval, regional political coordinator, People For the American Way
Tyler Pearson, recent candidate for state Senate
Paul Spencer, director, Regnat Populus
Steve Copley, chair of the Arkansas Friendship Coalition, chair of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance
ADDITIONAL: At 7 p.m. on Monday, May 18, off-Broadway actress Barbara Bates is giving a free performance of the play “Go Granny D!” The performance will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 1818 Reservoir Road in Little Rock. It is based on the life of campaign finance reform activist Doris Haddock, who at the age of 90 marched across the country in the name of campaign finance reform. The play will be introduced by Bazzini, who led her own 400-mile march last year.

For more information, visit the Arkansas Democracy Coalition’s page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ARDCdotUS).