Citizens United Advisory Referendum to be Introduced

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Contact: Jim Crist, 608-274-6201,

Citizens United Advisory Referendum to be Introduced

Rep. Subeck, Sen. Hansen back giving voters a voice

MADISON — On Wednesday, April 19th, two lawmakers will introduce resolutions that would create a Citizens United advisory referendum asking voters if they support putting limits on the corrupting influence big money has in political campaigns.

The Money Out, Voters In coalition, which backs the bill, includes 34 grassroots organizations in Wisconsin. The non-binding referendum would give voters the opportunity to advise their legislators of their position of allowing corporations, unions and other artificial entities to spend money to influence the outcomes of Wisconsin elections.

“When our Founding Fathers envisioned the right to free speech, I certainly don’t think they were envisioning major corporations spending millions of dollars to influence elections,” said Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), the Assembly lead author of the bill. “Corporations should be using their profits to put America back to work, not to buy our public elections.”

In the most recent election cycle, outside spending on federal elections reached $1.4 billion, ten times more than the 2008 election cycle. Much of this money comes from a handful of billionaires. Approximately, $6.5 billion dollars was spent on the 2016 federal elections.

“It doesn’t matter what part of the state you live in, the overwhelming flood of money pouring into our state to influence our elections is a major concern,” said Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who is the lead Senate author of the bill. “Candidates no longer have control over their own campaigns and the voters have no true sense of where candidates stand on the issues anymore. It’s time to let the voters be heard on this critical threat to our democracy.”

Rep. Subeck and Sen. Hansen gathered more than 30 co-sponsors of the bill and expect to formally introduce the bill Wednesday at 11:30, in the Assembly Parlor, which is on the 2nd floor of the west wing in the state capitol. The bills are currently designated as LRB-176 and LRB-1138.

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court sided with the wealthy elite against the interests of the American people. More than 5 million people have signed petitions expressing their strong opposition to Citizens United. Over 730 communities across the U.S. have passed resolutions and 18 states have called for a constitutional amendment. Wisconsin United To Amend has been a champion of reform, supporting citizen activists around the state. A total of 105 communities in Wisconsin have passed referenda and resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment. In total, 2.8 million people (49% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. The amendment would clarify that:

  • The rights protected in the Constitution are those of individual human beings only
  • The spending of money is not speech, and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process

United To Amend is a non-partisan, all volunteer, grassroots organization.

For more information visit

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3.

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.