Announcing the Corporate Accountability Amendment

We’ve been living with the Citizen’s United decision for two years now, and the results have been every bit as bad as I imagined on that Thursday in January, 2010, when I first heard it on the radio. Untraceable corporate money has swollen the new ‘Super-PACs’, and we are left to wonder who is trying to hijack our elections. I mean, we KNOW who, in general, but we can’t prove it.

What can we do about it? We can’t fully reverse the effects of Citizen’s United without either waiting for a new US Supreme Court majority, and then a case on which they would be willing to reverse themselves, or a Federal Constitutional Amendment declaring that money is not speech, and not protected by the First Amendment. Move to Amend has been promoting the latter approach, and while I’m all for it, it is a project of years, requiring a change in the way conservative voters in red states see the world to ever become part of the Constitution.

Today, I got an email from Jocelyn Benson announcing the Corporate Accountability Amendment. The one thing that Citizen’s United does allow states to do is to require that political advertising disclose its funding sources. And that is what the CAA does. If it passes, it would not mean that corporations still cannot attempt to buy our elections. It just means that if they support unpopular legislation or candidates, they must risk citizen and consumer backlash. Transparency is not everything — but it would be a big step forward.

It’s time to know the impact of corporate contributions, shadow money, and big money lobbying in Michigan. Voters have a right to know when corporations are trying to unfairly make their voice louder than real people, real voters.

We cannot rely on Lansing to act to bring transparency back to politics so we’re taking action by putting Corporate Accountability Amendment on the Michigan ballot this November. This amendment will give every voter the opportunity to reject secret corporate financing of elections, and restore transparency to politics.

Help us qualify for the ballot by filling out this form and using it to recruit others. We’ll send an official petition to sign and stay in touch with ways to help.

The full text of the proposed amendment can be found here.

There is a FAQ page with helpful arguments such as:

Q: How is this proposal constitutional post-Citizens United?
A: We, along with some of the leading constitutional scholars in the country, believe this amendment is wholly constitutional. And in Part IV of the Citizens United opinion, a majority of justices vigorously endorsed disclosure and disclaimer requirements. They agreed that “The Government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether” because of their view that “the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate shortly before an election.”

Along with the referendum on PA4 (petitions to overturn it were submitted this week), and the “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment to put collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution, this is shaping up to be the biggest year for progressive ballot measures in a long, long time. Of course, there is a reason for that. When you don’t have a voice in the legislature, and are not being heard by the Governor, you use the means that remain at your disposal — going directly to the voters. That is what we must do, and what we will do. I will be busy collecting signatures this spring and summer, along with other political stuff I do. Hope our readers here are ready to pitch in!

Kalamazoo Township Trustee MDP 6th District Chair Astronomy lecturer at WMU
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