Jan. 21, 2012
California Lawmakers and Activists Call for the End of Corporate Political Spending
On Anniversary of Citizens United Decision, California Pushes for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn It
SACRAMENTO – On the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, California lawmakers joined activists today at the state Capitol to rally support for a proposed California Legislature resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision. The Citizens United decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums from their treasuries to influence elections and opened the floodgates to corporate cash.
Introduced Jan. 5 by Assemblymembers Bob Wieckowski and Michael Allen, the resolution calls for an amendment that would prevent corporations from being granted the same rights as individuals and would create fair elections, in which Congress could regulate all forms of campaign spending.
“The Citizens United decision tilts the scales of campaign funding toward those who support wealthy special interests rather than working Americans,” Wieckowski said. “This resolution is designed to send a grassroots message to Washington about the urgent need to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling and restore fair elections to the people.”
In the wake of the Citizens United decision, campaign spending by outside groups has skyrocketed. In the 2010 election cycle, the first since the Supreme Court decision, outside groups spent nearly $300 million nationwide. That year, a single Super PAC, Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, spent more than $3.2 million in attack ads against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Her opponent, Carly Fiorina, had less than $200,000 in outside organization money spent against her by all groups combined.
Los Angeles and Oakland, among other cities across the nation, have voted to rid elections of corporate cash.
“California is poised to take a powerful step in passing a resolution calling for an amendment to overturn Citizens United,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “It is amazing to me how passionate and powerful voices for an amendment are in California and nationwide. It makes me believe that this momentous task is one we can achieve. Today’s rally is representative of this growing momentum. More and more people across the country are standing up to reclaim our democracy – and are expecting elected officials to heed the call for constitutional reform that makes clear that democracy is for people, not for corporations.”
At the event, activists wielded signs that said “Corporations are not people” and “I am a person” – the latter alluding to the historic civil rights posters carrying the message, “I am a Man.” Citizens from all across Northern California will descend on Sacramento to rally against Citizens United at the State Capitol. Wieckowski, co-author of Assembly Joint Resolution 22 will be joined by speakers from Public Citizen; Move to Amend; Common Cause; CALPIRG; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Green Chamber of Commerce; American Sustainable Business Council; California Council of Churches; Occupy Sacramento; Occupy Davis; Occupy Woodland; Occupy Stockton and students and performers, including the San Francisco Mime Troupe.
Today’s event is part of a nationwide week of action calling for the Citizens United decision to be overturned. From Massachusetts to California, events are planned to highlight the need for the federal government to enact meaningful campaign finance reform.
“The time has come for real citizens to rise up against the hijacking of our democracy that five corporate justices on the Supreme Court have engineered,” said Derek Cressman, director of Common Cause’s campaign to reverse Citizens United. “We need to demand loudly, clearly and repeatedly that Congress restore our Constitution and stand up for government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Added Pedro Morillas, CALPIRG legislative director, “When it comes to playing in politics, corporations spend money to make money, and too often boosting their bottom line comes at the public’s expense.”