I hope you are enjoying your year-long political campaign paid for with your retirement savings. Get used to it. This morning the U.S. Supreme Court announced in a 5 to 4 decision, without hearing any arguments, that the 2010 Citizens United decision applies to state elections whether states like it or not and they ain’t going to hear any arguments otherwise. I expect Marcus Daily is doing handsprings in Hell.
In 1912, progressive Montanans passed the Corrupt Practices Act to stop corporate interests such as our beloved Copper Kings from buying our entire electoral process. In 1907, Mark Twain famously said of copper magnate William Clark;
“He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment. By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.”
With Citizens United and this latest ruling, we are now back to pre-1912 as far as our Montana political system stands. Mega-Pacs using unlimited monies from their corporate treasuries and stockholder monies are now allowed to buy and sell any and all politicians and elections in Montana. President of Common Cause, Bob Edgar called today’s decision “arrogant” and stated,
“Thanks to the Roberts Court, this year’s campaigns for offices from the courthouse to the White House will be driven by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative political ads, financed by Super PACs and other supposedly ’independent’ donors whose identities will remain mostly shielded from the voters,”
The Roberts court found, against all conception of common sense, that “Independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so.” But, Montana ain’t ready to roll over to corporate control just yet. Initiative I-166 has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Language of the initiative attempts to set Montana politics back on track.
It is policy of the state of Montana that each elected and appointed official in Montana, whether acting on a state or federal level, advance the philosophy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights and that each such elected and appointed official is charged to act to prohibit, whenever possible, corporations from making contributions to or expenditures on the campaigns of candidates or ballot issues. As part of this policy, each such elected and appointed official in Montana is charged to promote actions that accomplish a level playing field in election spending.
Both the Governor and Lt. Governor have signed the petition to get the initiative on the November ballot. Governor Schweitzer said of the petition,
“When you take this petition, and you sign your name, and you stand up for Montana, you will send a signal to all of Montana. You’ll send a signal to this entire country, and yes, you will send a signal to the world that Montana’s not for sale. Sign it. Sign it today.”
It is obvious that we cannot challenge corrupt political practices through the Roberts Court. We must now move the fight to the ballot box. You will have the opportunity to vote for this constitutional amendment in November in Montana and hopefully in other states. It is likely that the push to get a national constitutional amendment putting a stop to corporate dominance of our elections will make it before Congress before long.
“Citizens and the nation are not going to accept the Supreme Court imposed campaign finance system that allows our government to be auctioned off to billionaires, millionaires, corporate funders and other special interests using political money to buy influence and results,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21
Please stand with the movement to amend the constitutions of both Montana and the US of A through your support of organizations like Common Cause, Move To Amend and Stand With Montanans and vote for I-166 in November. Tell your friends, tell your relatives, tell everybody! We have spent nearly a century keeping corporate money from running our elections. Montana will refuse to roll over once again to the good old days of corporate control no matter what the Supremes have to say about it.