Group Working to Make Democracy Safe for Middle Class Again

by , posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 8:00 am

“We’ve never seen this many petitions!” Suzanne Fahnestock, Kane County Director of Elections said with a broad smile as she accepted the tall pile of petitions presented by Kaye Gamble, coordinator of the Kane County Move to Amend effort.

The group of about fifty Kane County citizens spent untold hours standing in record-breaking summer heat collecting signatures in a petition drive to place an advisory question on the ballot this November. Nearly fifteen thousand citizens signed those petitions.

The petition requests this question be placed on the Kane County November ballot– “Should the United States constitution be amended to limit the use of corporate, special interest, and private money in any political activity, including influencing the election of any candidate for public office?”

Gamble’s group is part of the national Move to Amend effort to amend the constitution in order to nullify the 2010 Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This ruling created Super PACs and Hybrid Super PACs, overturning decades of limits to political contributions and opening up unlimited floods of undisclosed corporate, private, special interest and foreign money into politicians’ election campaigns.

“The Citizens United ruling cuts the middle class out of having a voice in our elections. It allows politicians to rule in favor of corporations, not for the rest of us,” said Joni Lindgren, one of the members of Gamble’s group.

“This (the move to amend effort) is about the people,” Gamble said. “And about our democracy working for people. The Citizens United ruling and the Super PACs it created are about secrecy, money and the buying of our democracy. The common person has no voice with Citizens United in our elections.” Politicians pass legislation favorable to corporations when corporations provide money for congressional elections.

For example, big oil, gas, and coal in 2009 and 2010 got a 5,800% return on their investment in politicians. They spent nearly $350 million in political contributions and in lobbying Congress and received about $20 billion in subsidies. (see for more info.)

And some of the most profitable corporations pay little or no taxes. Some actually receive refunds from taxes paid by American citizens. For example, Citizens for Tax Justice found that in 2008-2010, General Electric made a $10.5 billion profit yet got refunds of $4.7 billion. Verizon’s profits were $32.8 billion, yet it got $951 million in refunds.

Gamble points to this abuse and says, “I don’t have $20 million to buy an election, but corporations, the very wealthy, and special interest groups do. That’s not right.”

Apparently many thousands of Kane County citizens who signed the petitions feel the same way. Those nearly fifteen thousand Kane County citizens have joined with those in the states of California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and with more than 288 cities and towns nationwide who have decided to place the amendment question before voters this November.


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