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Efforts for Constitutional Amendment Growing as Citizens United Anniversary Looms

Nov. 14, 2012

Efforts for Constitutional Amendment Growing as Citizens United Anniversary Looms

Public Citizen Leads Thriving Movement to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of the third anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Public Citizen is organizing events throughout the country to continue building support for passing a constitutional amendment that would overturn the controversial court decision.

The first events in the run-up to the Jan. 21 anniversary will take place this week and include a “Democracy in Motion” tour of six New York cities. During the speaking tour, Public Citizen organizers and New York activists will be building grassroots support for a constitutional amendment and other measures to get big money out of politics.

Public Citizen also will lead a nationwide call today to bring together activists from across the country to plan events around the anniversary.

This build-up comes as the country is witnessing a groundswell of support for getting corporate money out of politics. On Election Day, voters in Montana, Colorado, Chicago, San Francisco and dozens of towns in Massachusetts overwhelmingly backed initiatives that called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. So far, 11 states and more than 350 communities have formally called for an amendment. In addition, 125 members of Congress have expressed support for an amendment, as has President Barack Obama.

Although some of the largest outside group expenditures went to losing causes, Public Citizen is warning that it would be misguided to believe corporations and the ultra-rich are simply going to withdraw from politics. In a statement released Monday, Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said Citizens United paved the way for a force so pernicious that it threatens the foundation of our democracy, and the only solution is a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

Outside groups — which were permitted by the Citizens United decision to use unlimited contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals to influence elections — spent more than $190 million on this year’s most competitive Senate races, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. The vast majority of this money was spent funding negative attack ads that have a chilling effect on honest debate about important issues.

“Thanks to Citizens United, we now have elections dominated by fundraising, not campaigning; negative ads, not positive proposals; and special access and influence for corporations and the super-rich, not regular citizens,” Weissman said. “Whether or not the preferred candidates prevail, Big Business has succeeded in narrowing the scope of the debate – think climate change – and in chilling elected officials from advocating policies that would curtail corporate power. We need to fight to get money out and voters in.”

To find out more about Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign, please visit www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org.

Other recent Public Citizen reports about outside group spending in the 2012 elections include:

“Citizens United Fuels Negative Spending”

“Tipping Elections With Secret Cash?”

“Super Connected”