January 26, 2016
Momentum Grows: Initiative to Overturn Citizens United Seals Its Place on 2016 Washington State Ballot
Washington Could Become 17th State to Call for a Constitutional Amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy advocates are putting the call to limit political spending by corporations and big donors on the Washington state ballot this November. The Washington secretary of state’s office certified the initiative today.
The WAmend Coalition to Amend the Constitution turned in more than 337,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative, I-735. I-735 calls for transparency about who is spending money to influence elections and calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and related cases. That decision allowed corporations and the wealthy to spend unlimited sums to influence elections and led to a dramatic increase in secret election spending funneled through trade associations and other organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.
Over the course of eight months, the WAmend campaign’s team of volunteers and staff, with the assistance of Public Citizen and dozens of other national and local organizations, collected many more than the 246,372 valid signatures needed to put I-735 on the ballot.
“This truly impressive feat is a powerful demonstration of people power,” said Aquene Freechild, campaign co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “The volunteers who lead the WAmend coalition are showing America the kind of grit and determination needed to claim our democracy from corporations and big money.”
Polls show that in the post-Citizens United era, Americans understand that money from corporations and the wealthy finances campaigns and greases the wheels of the legislative process, drowning out the voices and priorities of everyday Americans.
Sixteen states, the District of Columbia and nearly 700 cities and counties have backed an amendment. (The states are California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.) Montana and Colorado passed similar measures in the 2012 presidential election by more than 70 percent, highlighting the bipartisan outrage about the flood of secret money into elections.
A constitutional amendment would restore the governments’ ability to regulate election spending at the federal, state and local levels.