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Massachusetts Becomes Seventh State to Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Massachusetts Becomes Seventh State to Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Massachusetts Legislature Approves Resolution, Calls for Curbing Corporate Power Over Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Massachusetts is now the seventh state to stand up against the corporate takeover of elections and call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. The Massachusetts House voted late last night by voice vote to pass a resolution supporting an amendment, following in the footsteps of the state Senate’s bipartisan passage of the resolution via a 35-1 vote last week.

With the passage of this measure, Massachusetts joins California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maryland in calling for a constitutional amendment. The final vote in the Massachusetts House comes just weeks after California’s passage of a similar bill, signaling growing nationwide support for Congress to act. 

“Massachusetts now joins the several states and hundreds of communities across the country that have issued similar resolutions,” said Mark Hays, coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “With leadership from the states, we’re demonstrating that amending the Constitution to challenge the corrosive impacts of money in politics is no pipedream, but a mainstream vision for a democracy that serves the people.”

Public Citizen has been instrumental in working with resolution sponsors state Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and state Rep. Cory Atkins (D-Concord) to introduce the resolution and push it through the legislative process. The organization worked with activists and supporters statewide to keep pressure on the Legislature. Public Citizen was joined by Free Speech for People, Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, MASSPIRG and the Greater Boston Coffee Party, as well as the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and many other organizations in advancing the resolution.

As part of the effort, Public Citizen also worked with other allied national organizations such as CREDO Mobile and MoveOn.org, which generated tens of thousands of signatures and phone calls from Massachusetts residents urging the state Legislature to pass the resolution.

Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Super PACs and other independent groups – many of which can hide the identities of their donors – have spent huge amounts, in some cases outspending individual campaigns by a ratio of 2-to-1. Citizens United-enabled outside group spending is devoted overwhelmingly to negative attack ads. The funds come from a very small cluster of people; just 22 individuals and corporations accounted for half the money raised by Super PACs through the end of 2011.

Public Citizen has helped lead the introduction of similar resolutions in California, Vermont and Maryland, and has supported the efforts of local activists and lawmakers who have introduced similar resolutions in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. In total, resolutions have been introduced or passed in 26 states and have passed in more than 288 cities and towns nationwide. In Massachusetts, 68 communities, including Boston, Springfield and Worcester, have voted in favor of a constitutional amendment. In addition, more than 119 members of Congress support a constitutional amendment, as does President Barack Obama.

“Unless we aim to turn over control of our elections to Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sheldon Adelson and a very few others, we need a constitutional amendment to reset our campaign finance system and to re-establish the principle that democracy means rule by the people, not giant corporations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

To learn more about Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign, visit: http://democracyisforpeople.org.