Letters To The Editor
Stop big-money politics
Dear Editor: Dave Zweifel is spot on with regard to the solution to the escalating cost of elections for all political offices (“There’s an easier solution than appointing Supreme Court justices,” April 19). If we don’t pass an amendment to get the big money out of politics, our democracy will continue to decline. There also have been less-publicized, high-cost local elections in city council and school board races. There will come a time when big money will dominate many township races. This sickness must stop.
Most Americans correctly believe that they are no longer represented — not by Congress, or our courts, or our presidents. Many county boards are trending to decisions completely based on party directives. When our local town boards and school boards are fully polarized, we’ll be only one step from some kind of nondemocratic, dare I say autocratic, governance.
Unfortunately, most editorials, columns, radio talk shows and TV news broadcasts never talk about solutions in the works. Yes, they sometimes offer “possibilities” and “we needs” and “if only” reform ideas — but none of those are active today.
In Wisconsin and across the nation there are grassroots and civic groups that are working to get 34 states to call for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. Wisconsin is leading this charge with the most robust effort in the country.
And on the federal level, the We the People Amendment, H.J.R.54, has been reintroduced in Congress. Readers can learn about this important work by clicking here if they are ready to invest in restoring our republic.
Viroqua advisory referendum addresses ‘dark money’ in politics
On April 4th voters will be voting in an important Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Voting is important. However, it is often inadequate. On the 4th Viroqua voters get to participate in an important referendum. This is how we “Do Democracy.”
The referendum we are referring to addresses a problem that is destroying our democracy – too much money in politics. Some voters might have seen that the 2022 Wisconsin Governor’s race spent $164 million – which smashes the previous record of $93 million, an 80% increase in one election cycle. However, are the voters aware that the last midterm election cost for all federal races was $17 billion – even more than the 2020 Presidential election, for the first time in history?
Polls that ask citizens if there is too much money in politics, and if this needs to be fixed, show between 80% and 95% yes vote. The citizens want this problem fixed – and most of us understand that the citizens are going to have to fix it. This next election gives them an opportunity to demand it be fixed.
On April 4th voters will be asked basically if: Only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights; and Money is not speech and must be limited for elections of our representatives.
Vote Yes on April 4th. Let’s Do Democracy! – together.
Kent Gallaway, Marilyn Chesnik, Jerry Dorrf, Daniel Yildirim, Debbie Dudek
April 7 ballot referenda questions
Will my April 7 ballot have non-binding referendums? Yes, if you live in Eagle River, Arbor Vitae, Boulder Junction, Lac du Flambeau, Manitowish Waters, Phelps, Plum Lake, Presque Isle, and Winchester in Vilas County and in Rhinelander, Pine Lake, Crescent, Pelican, Woodruff, Hazelhurst, Lake Tomahawk and Newbold in Oneida County.
What are the questions? “Should Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting maps after each census?” And, “Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to state that only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights (not corporations, unions, nonprofits or other artificial entities) and that money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting speech?” Plum Lake and Newbold will have only this one question.
How can I learn more about the questions? Attend Information meetings for the public with speaker Matt Rothschild Thursday, March 19: 10 a.m. at Rhinelander City Hall; 2 p.m. at Eagle River Olson Library and 6 p.m. at Woodruff Town Hall.
How did referenda come to be on the ballot? Both initiatives arose from non-partisan grassroots volunteer efforts. The Fair Elections Project came about to replace Wisconsin’s partisan voting map drawing by whichever political party controls the legislature at the time with a non-partisan process similar to what Iowa has used for decades. United To Amend formed 10 years ago urging a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that ruled corporations and unions have the same free speech guarantee that humans have and that money is speech. That ruling did away with the campaign donation limitations of the McCain/Feingold Law.
Kay Hoff, Minocqua
Representation on the ballot
On April 7 we will be going to the polls to cast votes for not only for who we want to represent us but how we want to be represented.
Over a dozen communities in the Northwoods will have referendum questions advising our state representatives to change the way we draw district maps and to take the influence of dark money out of politics. The Fair Maps Referendum asks that our districts be created by a nonpartisan commission working with 2020 census information and recognizing that maps should not be drawn to benefit one political party over another. The referendum asking to overturn Citizens United gives voice to the concern that money equates to speech.
Our democracy should not be sold to the highest bidders. Equitable representation requires a level playing field and we are seeing more and more money being poured into campaigns than ever before. I urge you to vote yes on both referendum questions if they appear on your ballot. If you don’t see them, ask your local elected officials in your towns and villages why you were not given the opportunity to vote along with your neighbors on April 7.
Steven Schreier, Rhinelander
Reader supports ‘United to Amend’
Do you know what Super PACs are? They are running our country, so it behooves all of us to know. In essence, a Super PAC is an easily-formed entity that can accept unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, organizations and individuals and then spend unlimited amounts of money advocating either for or against candidates for office. In contrast, each of us individually is restricted to $2,700 per election ($2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election for a total of $5,400) for each candidate we support. It is readily apparent that wealthy corporations, unions, and people hold all the cards, as the candidate subsequently feels beholden to pay back these favors. What’s more, the bills brought before Congress are often written by lobbyists for the corporations, etc. It works this way for both Republicans and Democrats. This is a non-partisan issue.
When and how did this happen? When? Quite recently, in fact. How? In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission) that corporations and unions are “people” and as such can be granted the same rights of free speech. In the same case, it was ruled that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups for political campaigns, maintaining it is their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. Two months later in SpeechNow v. FEC it was ruled that money is speech. The concept of a super PAC, which doesn’t contribute directly to a candidate but advocates independently and is therefore not constrained by regulations regarding maximum contribution limits, came about at this time. About $1 billion was spent each by President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, with $7 billion spent on all candidates in the 2012 election cycle. In 2016, Hillary Clinton also spent about $1 billion. President Trump’s expenses were hard to calculate but it is estimated he received $5 billion in “free” coverage from networks.
To put things in perspective, all this money could fix the Flint water problem many times over, or give all public teachers in the country a $2,000 per year raise. Many democratic countries in the world (the United Kingdom and Canada, for instance) have limits on the amount that can be spent on campaigns, as well as on the amount of time before elections that campaigning may begin.
Laws can be changed and court rulings overturned, and we desperately need a Constitutional Amendment clarifying what constitutes a human and making it plain that money is not speech. United to Amend is a worthy non-partisan organization that has begun these endeavors. Stay tuned! Get educated! Get involved!
Judith Pagano, Rhinelander
Citizens United must be overturned
Companies spend millions of dollars for advertisements on every type of media. Regardless of the accuracy of the claims they make, these companies know they work to influence the average citizen and sell their products.
Advertisements sell us politicians in the same way. Groups called super PACs spend millions on ads. Many of these ads leave out the whole truth to mislead and influence us all.
Communities throughout the United States have passed referendums protesting the way these political action committees and their big money control our politicians, laws and the American voter.
Nearly 130 communities in Wisconsin already have passed such referendums. A majority of Wisconsin’s population now wants an amendment to the Constitution to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the five conservative judges of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited money for political ads. Four judges voted against the ruling.
We need to continue this fight in every community, every county, every city and every state. Resolutions to repeal the Citizens United ruling pass by an average of around 80 percent of the votes. We must continue to protest the way large corporations and ultra-rich individuals control our supposedly free society and our votes.
Kurt Zemke, Rice Lake
Dig Deeper Before Voting
I was very disappointed to read the slant of the editorial Opinion article in the Friday, February 16 edition of the Daily Jefferson County Union. It is an opinion, however I feel it was more of a directive on how to vote rather than an illuminating article constructive of our democracy.
Certainly we expect that any candidate for Supreme Court judge should believe in and support “the rule of law,” and be as completely non-partisan as humanly possible. We appreciate that Judge Screnock does, and has a history in pertinent case law.
However, judges interpret existing laws in order to judge specific cases brought before them. They are human beings also, and have differing opinions on existing law. Judge Screnock’s belief “in the rule of law,” is subject to his interpretation of existing law, which is the crux of the question of who best represents “the law.”
Judge Screnock said that judges should not have to recuse themselves in cases where their donors have given more than $10,000 to their campaign. This allows the “free speech” (dollars) of wealthy donors to outweigh the “free speech” (votes) of those who don’t have $10,000 to donate.
Judge Screnock’s decision is largely based on the US Supreme Court 2010 Citizens United decision. This interpretation of our First Amendment constitutional rights gives corporations free speech rights that our Founding Fathers believed were inalienable human rights, and thus permits the donation of unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns.
Our local United To Amend (formerly Move To Amend) group is working for a U.S. Constitutional amendment stating that corporations are not people, do not have the inalienable rights of human beings, and money is not speech and therefore can be regulated in political campaigns. Over a dozen local communities passed resolutions in support of this amendment. Typically 70 or 80% of voters support this amendment (77% in Fort and 84% in Whitewater on April 2, 2013). 49% of Wisconsinites, 120 communities, in Wisconsin have thus far passed resolutions supporting the amendment, and 19 states have.
It is clear that the vast majority of American citizens support this amendment, and yet judges are interpreting our U.S. Constitution in ways that citizens feel are inaccurate and widely divergent from what our Founding Fathers intended.
In a recent forum, Dallet said that she “absolutely” believes in the rule of law and has been applying it every day. She said the “rule of law” is Screnock’s mantra, “yet he does not believe in the rule of law if it does not fit his political views.” (See www.dalletforjustice.com/2018/01/22/supreme-court-candidates-trade-barbs-in-first-debate/ .)
Dallet taught law at Marquette U. for 3 years, and has 23 years of experience working in the courtroom — 11 years as a prosecutors and now as Judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court since 2008, having presided over 10,000 cases.
Since Judge Screnock and Judge Dallet have been advanced to the November election by last Tuesday’s election, I encourage voters to dig deeper. Helpful websites include especially Ballotpedia, which is an “online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. Our goal is to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government. We are firmly committed to neutrality.” — This is a good site to “Bookmark” for future elections as well. (https://ballotpedia.org/Wisconsin_Supreme_Court_elections,_2018)
Daniel Fary, M.D.
Let state residents vote on Citizens United ruling
To the editor:
On October 10, the Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics held its first meeting of the 2017-18 legislative session. Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senator Dave Hansen ( D-Green Bay ) requested that Committee Chairperson Rep Scott Allen (RWaukesha) include Assembly Joint Resolution 53 on the public hearing agenda. AJR 53 would place a statewide advisory referendum question on the ballot asking voters whether they support a constitutional amendment overturning the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. AJR 53 was referred to the Committee on Constitution and Ethics in May. Yet, Rep. Allen refused the request, calling the advisory referendum (a democratic process defined and allowed under Wisconsin law) “politics at its worst.”
Political spending has exploded since the “Citizens United” decision, much of it undisclosed. Special interest money has enormous political influence, and everyday citizens feel they are getting no representation. Here in Wisconsin , 115 communities have passed referendums calling for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Almost half of Wisconsin lives in jurisdictions that have voted for this, and the “Yes” votes have been in the 80- 90% range. It is stunning that Republican Representative Allen considers giving the average Wisconsinite the opportunity to have his/her say at the ballot box to be “politics at its worst”. Wisconsinites are fed up with the massive corporate and special interest spending Citizens United has ushered into our elections, and it is time to let them be heard.
Push for vote to overturn Citizens United
Dear Editor: American citizens do not have a “government by the people and for the people.” American citizens now have “government by corporations for corporations.” The reason is the Supreme Court and Citizens United. The 2010 Supreme Court, in the case of Citizens United, voted 5-4 confirming that corporations were equal to living breathing persons and created the reality that citizens were subservient to corporations. The 2010 ruling that money equaled free speech has been broadened to allow corporations to give unlimited campaign contributions in amounts vastly superior to what individual citizens can afford to give. Our loss of self-governance is directly connected to the contributions in huge amounts by corporate donors to members of Congress seeking re-election, so they can promote tax laws to further corporate profit of their contributors. Even the amendments in the Bill of Rights have become useful tools to circumvent the voice of individual citizens in favor of corporate interests.
In 2017, we Americans live in an oligarchy. We are losing our republic! This condition cannot stand.
Gathering dust in the Wisconsin Legislature are resolutions that, if presented to We the People of Wisconsin, would allow Wisconsin to join 19 states which have voted to say “Money does not equal speech” and “Corporations are not equal to people.” Wisconsin citizens have the right to vote on this issue. The Wisconsin Legislature should allow the citizens of Wisconsin to express their voice so that we can make one large step forward to actual representative democracy. In 109 voting districts across Wisconsin this referendum has already achieved a yes vote by substantial numbers.
Please contact the chairmen listed below and ask them to support an open meeting and approval of Senate Bill SJR54 and Assembly Bill AJR53 to give Wisconsin voters the opportunity to say if they want BIG Money out of politics!
To date, 111 communities in Wisconsin have adopted nonpartisan United to Amend resolutions.
It is time to let Wisconsin voters have a say on how our elections are financed!
• Sen. Craig, the chair of Senate Bill SJR54, email: Sen.Craig104 South, State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882
• Rep. Scott, the chair of Assembly Bill AJR53, email: Rep.Allen@legis.wisconsin.gov
Mailing Address: 8 West – PO Box 8952 – Madison, WI 53708-8952, 608-266-8580
Wisconsin United to Amend
Only with repeal of Citizens United will citizens be heard again
Enlightened thought played a role in shaping historical events and promoting understanding of their significance. Enlightened thinkers gave us the idea that nation-states are accountable to their citizens. The idea is that, in principle, basic rights and liberties should be distributed equally; within the political sphere equality reigns.
The reality is that many democracies have sometimes accommodated egregious political inequalities that have brought about events like the Emancipation Proclamation, trade unions, women suffrage and 1960s civil rights movement.
In recent times we have seen four economic bubbles that have crashed the economy and caused enormous human suffering.
But the greatest shadow to fall across the nation was the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010.
Not since the 1890s with the railroad, timber, oil and steel barons have plutocracies had such control of government. Not since slavery have we seen such stratification of society and the siphoning of the GNP into offshore banks.
Journalism failed the American people during the last election and we are struggling with the aftershocks of “alternative facts.” It is no longer a matter of sheer volume of media controlling the message but its factualness. We need to return to the era where campaigners had to deliver their messages face to face to the public and be accountable to their constituents, where every citizen could make their voices heard and get questions answered.
Open town hall meetings and mikes are a thing of the past. When campaigners/officials do appear they control the conversation by screening people and deciding who will have the right to ask a question.
The only way to make our voices heard again is to repeal Citizens United.
Hear about Wisconsin United to Amend
Did you know that the U.S. Constitution was created to protect people from the monopoly of corporations?
Our country was set up so all [white male] individuals would have representation in government, and not be run by a select few in power.
Things have changed in the 241 years since. Thankfully, “the People” now includes women and people of other races.
Now, on the not-so- great end:
• Corporations have votes and the same or more civil rights than individuals.
• Money has a loud voice.
• Only people with huge financial resources can successfully run for state and federal public office.
• Candidates are backed by a very few citizens who control most money interests.
• Many legislators spend 30-60 percent of their work time raising money to stay in office, rather than representing the people.
Most Americans believe that hard work and integrity will create good lives for us, our neighbors and our children. Wealthy political interests do not care about what happens for middle and lower class citizens. They use lies and emotional issues to pit us against one another. They continue to systematically build organizations like Citizens United to buy legislators’ votes. Most ugly, is that caring community members hesitate to talk to one another about important issues, for fear of alienating their friends. Through media and political statements, issues are polarized and constructed to divide us. We cannot count on people in government to change the unfair system.
The Good News: Quoted from the WIUTA website. Learn how you can lend your voice to this effort.
“Wisconsin United to Amend (wiuta.com) is a non-partisan state network of concerned citizens dedicated to restoring our representative democracy, by minimizing the corruptive influence that money has on our political process. We seek to overturn Citizens United and related Supreme Court decisions so we may reclaim the liberties and privileges guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution for real people.
Over 730 communities across the U.S. have already passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, including over 100 governments in WI and 19 state legislatures. Once enough states press Congress on this, they will be forced to act.”
There will be an open meeting related to this topic at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 26 at Table 65. Reservations needed. Lorene Vedder will facilitate. She is a retired physician who is informing people about Wisconsin United to Amend. She has studied thoughtfully and extensively on this issue and its historical significance.
Signed by New Richmond, Star Prairie and Somerset residents:
Mary Jane Bridge
Marcy Armstrong Dorau
Tell legislators you want hearing on statewide vote on dark money
What kind of government colludes with the enemy against our country’s interest? Accepts bribes or “dark money” from special interests to push corporate agendas over voter interests? Discriminates against people of color or different religions? Lies and cheats for their own self-gain? Forces their so called “Christian agenda” on others? Destroys the long-trusted institutions of public schools, health, safety, voting rights, fair taxation according to representation, transparency and accountability, freedom of speech and freedom of religion?
What kind of government? The corrupt government we have today! Stand up and clean up our government from these filthy politics! You can start by joining over 105 communities in Wisconsin and 19 states that have adopted resolutions that want to get “big money” or “dark money” out of politics and place limits on political donations.
Please contact these chairs of the Assembly and Senate committees and urge them to sponsor an open hearing on bills AJR53 in the Assembly and SJR54 in the Senate to let the public have a statewide vote and let voters decide if they want to get “dark money” out of politics! Sen. Dave Craig, SJR54, 608-266-5400 or Sen.Craig@legis.wisconsin.gov. Rep. Scott Allen, AJR53, 608-266-8580 or Rep.Allen@legis.wisconsin.gov.
Democracy drowning in flood of campaign cash
Republican insiders are tickled over Team Ryan raising massive sums for the House speaker and many other GOP candidates, but Team Ryan’s success should alarm anyone concerned about the integrity of our democracy.
Paul Ryan’s status as a fundraising juggernaut has made his district less competitive, discouraging Democrats from running against him. The Gazette has endorsed Ryan’s candidacy many times over the years, but democracy thrives only when voters have choices and candidates debate the issues.
By almost any measure, Ryan has had a tumultuous year. Ryan shepherded through Congress a health care bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would result in 23 million people becoming uninsured. He reversed course on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, opting to side with President Trump’s populist position to scrap it. And there’s also the looming cloud of Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
Democrats should be eager to run against Ryan given these issues, but the only one to declare his candidacy so far is David Yankovich, a carpetbagger from Ohio. His greatest skill appears to be tweeting to his 92,000 Twitter followers. There’s still time for local contenders to emerge, but if Yankovich ends up being it, his candidacy would be a sad commentary.
Regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, 1st Congressional District voters deserve to hear Ryan and his opponent debate the issues. Last year, Ryan refused to debate his opponent, Ryan Solen, though Ryan had nothing to fear and defeated Solen by a whopping 35 percentage points.
Ryan skipped the debate because he knew he could.
As reported by Frank Schultz in Monday’s Gazette, Team Ryan raised $65.5 million during last year’s election cycle. Nearly $20 million went to Ryan’s campaign fund and the rest to other candidates and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Solen raised a paltry $23,749.
Put another way, if campaign funds were bodies of water and each dollar represented one gallon, Ryan’s war chest would have filled almost 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Solen’s tiny stash of cash would have topped off a modest-sized backyard pool.
The shocking part about this disparity is it’s perfectly legal, and Republicans aren’t the only ones to partake in hobnobbing for dollars. At a national level, Democrats arguably do it better, as the Hillary Victory Fund showed last year, gobbling up more money—$529.9 million—than Team Ryan and Donald Trump’s committees combined.
Voters realize something is amiss.
Rock County voters overwhelmingly approved a non-binding referendum last fall calling for a constitutional amendment aimed at curbing money’s influence in elections. The referendum seeks to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that has turned elections into spending free-for-alls.
The referendum is a reasonable ask, but few people expect the Beltway to voluntarily reform its ways. America has a dysfunctional democracy, corrupted by the vast quantities of money sloshing around campaigns. Only privately wealthy candidates or those with ties to the parties’ fundraising apparatuses have any chance of mounting a serious campaign for federal office.
True democracies don’t answer to Team Ryan or any other fundraising group. True democracies answer to one group, the people.
Koch brothers louder than ‘We the People’
I am disappointed by our state legislature.
Since 2010, referendums have been calling for an amendment to our U.S. Constitution that would say: “Money is not speech and so money can be limited in politics, and people were granted rights by the Constitution and people allow corporations some protections.”
So far, more than 100 communities in Wisconsin have passed this referendum by an easy majority. They represent 2.5 million Wisconsin citizens. Additionally, 19 states have passed state resolutions. Our state legislature refuses to even discuss support for this amendment.
Now, two men (the Koch brothers, Charles G. and David H.) who wish to hold a constitutional convention — and no doubt make many constitutional changes that will benefit them — have the complete cooperation of our legislature.
The Koch brothers funded dark-money group has been a major force behind the bills, distributing model legislation to friendly state lawmakers.
What a shame our government has come to this: the voices of two, who are not even citizens of Wisconsin, overshadow the voices of 2,500,000 taxpaying Wisconsin citizens! And it’s being done so quietly that many people are completely unaware of what is going on.
About all we can do is let our representatives know we do not approve. But the Koch brothers speak louder than “We the People.”
Kathleen A. Bernhart
Let’s vote on Citizens United
Dear Editor: Sen. Dave Hansen and Rep. Lisa Subeck have proposed a resolution that would give the voters in Wisconsin an opportunity to voice their opinion and say they want big money out of politics. Since the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United in 2010, more and more dark money is replacing our voice and our vote. To date, 18 states and over 105 communities in Wisconsin have adopted resolutions to amend the Constitution and put limits on campaign donations. In Monona, we had 91 percent approval of this resolution on our local ballot. Please contact your state representatives to ask them to put this statewide advisory referendum on the ballot in November 2018. Let’s give all Wisconsin voters an opportunity to take back their voice and their vote.
Thank you, Sturgeon Bay City Council
STURGEON BAY – On March 21, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council unanimously passed (7-0) a resolution calling upon “the Wisconsin State Legislature, and our locally elected state representatives, to provide the voters of the state with the opportunity to speak through a non-binding statewide referendum asking if they, the voters, support an amendment to the United States Constitution stating: (1) Only human beings — not corporations, unions, SuperPACs or similar associations — are endowed with individual constitutional rights, and (2) Money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending in not equivalent to restricting political speech.”
Sturgeon Bay became the first Door County municipality to adopt this call to action and the 97th community in Wisconsin to support it either through a resolution or a referendum.
I, along with co-founding member Jim Black of Door County: United to Amend, want to express our sincere appreciation to the council for taking the lead and giving this important effort its first “official voice” in the county. Their support will help push this non-partisan initiative up a very steep political hill. I urge all Sturgeon Bay residents who are concerned with the amount of money pouring into and distorting our elections to say “thank you” to your City Council member. Let him or her know that you appreciate their willingness to get involved and tell our elected state and federal representatives to stand up for us — the people who elected them — and support a statewide referendum to give voters a chance to voice their opinion about unlimited money and influence in our elections.
Get Big Money Out Of Politics
Editor’s Note: This letter was written by Bill Earley, a member of the Wisconsin United To Amend Project. It does not reflect the beliefs of this news organization.
Donald Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” during the presidential campaign. It’s an effective metaphor which captures the widespread frustration people have with our current political system. We have 50 swamps + 1. We’re all mad. Our government is broken. Everyone sees the big-money corruption in our election system. We the People are not being represented. There’s a long list of issues we’re facing today – healthcare reform, tax reform, education, etc. None of them are going to get fixed until our representatives represent us. Right now, all the control is in the hands of the special interests.
These same frustrations are fueling a movement here in Wisconsin and across the nation. It’s the movement to get big money out of politics. The Supreme Court has given constitutional rights meant only for individuals to artificial entities such as corporations and unions and has ruled that money spent to influence the political process cannot be limited. Thus, our government today serves powerful special interests, foreign and domestic, instead of the American people. The Supreme Court has rigged the system to favor billionaires and corporate fat cats. We are not going to fix this mess until we reestablish our founders’ healthy distrust of big corporations and moneyed interests.
Wisconsin United To Amend is a non-partisan, all volunteer group that helps guide local citizens through the referendum process. After the November 2016 election, 96 communities in Wisconsin have supported the referendum, with approvals averaging 85%. Amazing support. Nationwide, over 700 communities have supported the referendum. In Racine, a group of phenomenal local volunteers shepherded the money-out-of-politics referendum onto the City of Racine ballot in the upcoming Spring election. The referendum states Resolved, that “We the People” of the City of Racine, Wisconsin, seek to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending.
We stand with communities across the country to support passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution stating:
- Only human beings ─ not corporations, unions, nonprofits or other artificial entities ─ are endowed with constitutional rights, and
- Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
We’re seeing increased activism across the country, with more marches, protests and grassroots organizing. However, most of this energy is spread thinly over a wide spectrum of issues, none of which can be fixed until the underlying problem is solved –the lack of representation caused by the flood of campaign cash.
Reform movements can take decades. We ended slavery. Women can vote. We recovered from the last Gilded Age. We can fix this too. We’re making tremendous progress. It’s been seven years since the disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. Since then, in addition to the communities stated above, 18 states have called for an amendment to overturn that decision.
Decades of negative advertising and party propaganda has resulted in extreme two party polarization. We’re divided, but are we really that much different? We all love our children, we want good education, affordable healthcare, a fair tax system and small efficient government. Don’t listen to the party hacks and the rabid partisans. We need to work together to get America back on track. Our two-party system is another thing that’s broken. We need to look beyond party labels and find good candidates that will stand with the people.
Vote YES on April 4th (City of Racine).
Vote ‘yes’ for money out of politics
April 4 will give Fox Crossing residents an opportunity to weigh in on an issue that many Wisconsinites have already voted on.
The issue? Too much corporate, anonymous money going to the political campaigns of certain candidates. This was legalized after the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision referred to as the “Citizens United” case.
The Court said that spending corporate money to fund political messages is the same as the right to freely speak about one’s preferences in election campaigns. Money, then, is equal to speech and corporations have the same right to freedom of speech as individuals do under the U.S. Constitution.
This is not money donated by individual employees of corporations. It is cash from company treasuries. Someone – the CEO? Board of Directors? Stockholders? –has decided that paying for a candidate’s media blitz will make it more likely that this person, if elected, will act in accordance with the corporations’ monetary interests.
And the source of these donations does not even have to be made public. Talk about skewing the playing field in favor of big, moneyed interests!
We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races. Voters will be asked to say “Yes” or “No” to a resolution calling for our state legislature to say that only people have constitutional rights to free speech and that money is not “political speech” under the First Amendment. Therefore, it can be regulated. We want Fox Crossing to join with the 95 other Wisconsin communities that have already called for a constitutional amendment nullifying the Citizens United decision.
Vote “Yes” for money out of politics on April 4.
Keep the money out of politics
To the editor,
People are frustrated with the current political system. Big money is corrupting the election system. We the people are not being represented. There is a long list of issues we are facing today – health care reform, tax reform, education, etc. None of them are going to get fixed until our representatives represent us. Right now, the control is in the hands of special interests.
These frustrations are fueling a movement in Wisconsin and across the nation. It’s the movement to get big money out of politics. The Supreme Court has given constitutional rights meant only for individuals to artificial entities such as corporations and has ruled that money spent to influence the political process cannot be limited. Thus, our government today serves powerful special interests instead of the American people. Our founders had a healthy distrust of big corporations and moneyed interests. We are not going to fix this mess until we get back to that.We ended slavery. Women can now vote. We can fix this. too, and we are already making tremendous progress. It has been less than seven years since the disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. Since then, 18 states have called for an amendment to overturn that decision. Wisconsin is not yet one of those states.
Wisconsin United to Amend is a nonpartisan, all-volunteer group that helps guide local citizens, such as Monona United to Amend, through the referendum process. In the fall election, 18 more communities had amendment referenda on their ballot – all over the state, and they passed with approvals averaging 85 percent. An amazing support. That brings the total to 96 communities in Wisconsin and over 700 nationwide. Monona is not yet one of those communities.
Thank you if you were one of over 1,200 Monona citizens who took the first step by signing a petition last fall. It led to the ballot referendum in the upcoming election. Thanks also to the many volunteers who helped getting the message out. Now let us all take the next step: Vote yes on April 4.
United to Amend
The Supreme Court has absurdly ruled corporations and some politically-oriented groups are people, making it easier for these entities to spend obscene amounts of money to persuade legislators to pass laws and regulations that favor them and their activities. This is a disaster for our democracy, because it makes money more important than people.
Huge corporations donate generously to politicians to persuade them to deliver more tax breaks. This boosts corporate profits and accelerates wealth growth for the super-rich. Some corporations and billionaires pay little or no federal taxes at all because of loopholes created by legislators to keep big donors happy.
These tax breaks squeeze the middle class hard because taxation on the middle class needs to rise to make up for money lost by huge tax breaks. Additionally, the price of the higher education the middle class wants for its children has risen sharply because federal and state governments have less money to spend on education.
The beauty of the American Dream is that it has been a powerful motivator to get people to work exceptionally hard to improve their economic circumstances. It is a driving force behind American greatness.
The squeeze on the middle class, as well as the poor, steadily narrows one of the most important pathways to the American Dream, higher education. For most, it has become unaffordable or requires taking on a huge amount of crippling debt that could actually trigger another recession.
To reverse this anti-democracy, anti-middle class, anti-American Dream trend, vote “Yes” on the Nov. 8 ballot for a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment. Sponsored by United to Amend, a grassroots movement, the resolution essentially states corporations are not people.
Vote “Yes” on Nov. 8, and rally others to do the same.
Voter urges ‘yes’ on referendum
On Election Day, Manitowoc voters can take a step toward reclaiming democracy by limiting how much money can be spent in American politics. A “yes” vote for the referendum will bolster support for a grassroots movement that aims to shift the balance of power away from wealthy corporations and back to a more level playing field through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In 2010, the letter of the law failed average Americans when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on certain types and levels of corporate spending for political candidates. Before then, campaign spending was reasonably regulated by the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (also known as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act), which sought to limit the corrupting influence of large amounts of money in the political process.
This Supreme Court decision, named Citizens United for the ultra-conservative organization that challenged the existing laws, allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to essentially buy elections, legally bribe elected officials and undermine our sovereign self-governance.
In 2012, more than $300 million was spent on political ads by incorporated interest groups, 72 percent of which would have been prohibited before the Citizens United ruling; and donations by undisclosed donors increased from one to 47 percent.
The law must be changed. Seventy-nine percent of registered voters and 66 percent of small business owners agree we need an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end this madness.
To begin the process, localities across the U.S. are adopting resolutions like Manitowoc’s upcoming referendum to show lawmakers that “we the people” want to end the pay-to-play culture in public policy-making that’s taking power away from average Americans and giving it to those with the most money.
Please vote “yes” for the referendum. For more details, visit www.wiuta.org.
Cast your ballot to limit money
In November citizens of Rock County will have the opportunity to tell our leaders in Madison that we want the influence of money out of politics. Beloit citizens had this opportunity in April 5, 2016 and 74% of them voted yes.
We are calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that will say that corporations, unions, and nonprofits are not people and money is not speech. This is to permanently undo the damage done by Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions.
Other Rock County towns that have voted yes for this amendment include Edgerton, Janesville and Evansville. Their support was overwhelming.
Citizens United allows wealthy individuals and special interests to drown out our voices with their dollars. The British newspaper, The Guardian reported “The rightwing group American Legislative Exchange Council is preparing to launch a new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities. ALEC brings elected officials together with representatives of major corporations, giving those companies a direct channel into legislation in the form of ALEC “model bills”.
Billionaires have bragged publicly about putting money into Wisconsin’s elections. Big money pulls the strings and our legislators usually dance like marionettes.
We cannot allow our elected officials to continue to be bought. They have successfully limited transparency as to who is putting up the money and limited the right of towns and local governments to regulate their environment.
78 Wisconsin communities have put this same referendum on the ballot and each community overwhelmingly passed it. Although you may have already voted yes on a city ballot, please vote yes for the county this November 8th. It will have a greater impact on our legislators.
We want money out of politics
EDITOR: In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commissions. This ruling held that money is speech and that corporations, unions, and other such entities have the same speech rights as a person. This created Super PACs and the unlimited and dark money that has bought our elections. There is very little transparency in where the money is coming from and where it is going. Just in this election cycle, more than $6 billion has been spent on the campaigns. Think what that money could have been used for besides buying lobbyists and our representatives: jobs created, bridges and roads repaired, broadband to the Northwoods,no state deficit. Wausau residents voted by a 77 percent margin for a call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling. In other words, get the big and dark money out of our elections. In addition to Wausau, 75 other Wisconsin communities have put this same referendum on the ballot and each community overwhelmingly passed it. This Nov. 11, more Wisconsin communities have this referendum on the ballot. It tells us that most Wisconsinites want the money out of our elections so representatives aren’t bought and that their voices will be heard.
Now I wonder why, at the Aug. 2 Rib Mountain board meeting, the board refused the request from a number of Rib Mountain residents to put the referendum on the November ballot. What does the board fear? I would hate to admit that even our local politicians are being paid for their decisions.
Harry Pulliam’s Letter in the Janesville Gazette on February 17, 2016
Get the Big Money Out of Politics!
The Oscar Mayer plant in Madison will soon close. 1000+ jobs will exit the community, imposing a heavy burden on local people, agencies and taxpayers.
Kraft Heinz, Oscar Mayer’s parent company, will also close six other plants, reportedly to control costs. Interestingly, it’s also giving its shareholders (most notably Warren Buffett and his cronies) an increased dividend–obviously another case where thousands suffer to benefit a few fat cats. Outfits in Janesville might close for the same reason, the GM Assembly Plant being a perfect example of what can happen.
It’s been said that Madison should have “incentivized” the company to remain. I disagree. Instead of bribing companies to stay, communities should levy HEAVY fines on them for leaving. Those fines could then be used to help defray the social and economic costs that the communities would bear.
That of course would require elected officials to display courage and to be willing to look out for the common good. Right now, many if not most of our elected officials are bought off, so that’s not likely to happen. Big money pulls strings and our legislators usually dance like marionettes for the same types of people who authorized the closing of the Oscar Mayer plants.
There is, however, a better way. On the April ballot there will be a referendum question about amending the U.S. Constitution to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech. This is a necessary first step to getting the big money out of politics.
Flood of money distorts elections
According to the FEC, combined spending on presidential candidates for 2016 so far adds up to roughly $269.5 million. It will be interesting to see how much larger this number becomes, since combined spending on 2012 campaigns amounted to over seven billion dollars. This virtually unlimited spending has been made possible by the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC, wherein corporations are deemed people and money deemed free speech.
January 21, 2016, marked the sixth anniversary of the Citizens United ruling. Not only does the flood of money distort the principle of ‘one person–one vote’ in representative government, it also continues to interfere with the duties of our legislators: how much time can be spent listening to constituents or writing important legislation when members of the US Congress spend 30-70% of their time raising money to stay in Congress? How much time can be spent on deliberation and building consensus? It is no wonder that 86% of Americans think that our democracy is broken.
But there is hope in a growing grassroots movement. On April 5, there will be referendums in Beloit and Janesville to redress the current caricature of democracy: we the people will be able to vote YES to call for a constitutional amendment stating that only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not speech. Sixty communities in Wisconsin and at least 12 states have passed a similar referendum or resolution. Be a part of this history and vote!
Voters deserve hearing on referendum bill
The biggest problem with our government is the United States Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United Decision of 2010. That allowed artificial institutions unlimited ability to participate in electing our representatives and increased expenditures in campaigns. In an effort to reverse this disastrous decision, in November of 2014, we in Dunn County passed a referendum by 72% that stated “only human beings, not corporations, unions, non-profits or similar associations, are endowed with constitutional rights, and money is not speech…” After our referendum, local citizens met with Senator Harsdorf, Representative Murtha, and Representative Petryk. Representative Larson refused to meet with his constituents about this issue. Now, several state senators and representatives have now sponsored a bill that would allow the citizens of the entire State of Wisconsin to vote on a similar referendum in the November 2016 election. Senator Kathleen Vinehout is one of the sponsors. A few of us attended an informal hearing at our Capitol in Madison about this proposed referendum January 21. We learned that the bill in the assembly, AJR-8, has been placed in the Constitution and Ethics Committee. The committee Chairman Representative Hutton, Assembly leader Vos and Senate leader Fitzgerald have not allowed a formal hearing on our referendum. This committee has just one bill to consider and has not convened in over one year!
Our 2014 referendum in Dunn County was not just a local issue. Similar referendums have been passed through out the State of Wisconsin and across this Nation. It is not a partisan issue. But many of our Wisconsin senators and representatives ignore these referendums because money from wealthy donors funds their campaigns. Please ask your elected officials to demand a hearing on AJR-8/SJR-12. Make your voices heard. Contact your state senators and assemblymen.
Restoring Government of, for and by “We the People.”
Thursday, January 21, marked the sixth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission decision. This ruling declared that corporations are people, with the same Constitutional rights as humans, and that the money they donate to political campaigns is free speech.
Eighty percent of American citizens from all points on the political spectrum have the common sense to know that this is balderdash. It puts the average citizen at a distinct disadvantage in the process of choosing and electing a representative government while candidates grovel at the feet of wealthy donors. We see the result of this ruling in the circus that is the primary campaign season. We see it in the incessant and disagreeable campaign ads paid for by organizations that are not directly affiliated with the candidates, but instead push the agenda of entities hiding behind seemingly innocuous super-pacs.
It’s time to reclaim the campaign funding process, removing big money from electoral politics. We need our own voices to be heard in both the state and federal capitols, not the “voice” of those who would sway lawmakers with obscene amounts of money. We can achieve true, comprehensive campaign finance reform if we, as Americans, unite across party lines and work as one to kick big money out.
In April and November of this year, communities across Green County will be holding advisory referendums to let our state and federal representatives know that it’s time to amend the U.S. Constitution to specify that corporations and other artificial entities are not people and that money is not speech. Look for flyers and community service ads with information on upcoming county-wide informational meetings, or go to https://gcuta.org/ to sign up for email updates.
Secretary, Green County United To Amend
Fighting back against Citizens United
Jan. 21 was the fifth anniversary of one of the most worst decisions ever by the U.S. Supreme Court – Citizens United.
The decision said corporations were people, and that they have the same rights as you and I do when it comes to political speech.
Here in Wisconsin, we’ve already seen the disastrous consequences of this decision.
Here is just one example
GTac (Gogebic Taconite) coughed up $700,000 to the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth during all the recalls. Once the Republicans prevailed, they pushed through a bill that was partially written by GTac, giving it all it wanted so it could proceed with its Iron County mine.
When companies like GTac throw their weight around in Madison, we pay for it with contaminated drinking water and difficulty breathing, and we pay for it every day when we see our beautiful landscape ruined and our democracy eroded.
Here in Wisconsin, we’re fighting back. Our citizens, in more than 50 locales, have passed resolutions stating that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. These resolutions have passed by lopsided margins every time.
We’re not alone. There’s a huge movement bubbling up to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United and restore the possibility of real democracy.
We need to use our common sense and amend the U.S. Constitution so you and I and other average citizens have an equal say in Madison and in Washington.
On fifth anniversary of Citizens United, it’s time to amend the Constitution
Read more: https://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/james-hartwick-on-fifth-anniversary-of-citizens-united-it-s/article_e23e82b0-21f5-5c84-b883-bfc31d60b555.html#ixzz3Qu3lV07c
After five years of unlimited corporate campaign contributions, it’s time to get money out of politics. Jan. 21 is the fifth anniversary of the highly controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which a split Supreme Court decided that unions and corporate entities can contribute unlimited funds to elections. This decision has damaged our democracy and it’s time for us to act.
Each election cycle since the 2010 Citizens United decision has seen more and more money pouring into the system. Elections have become little more than bidding wars, with the candidate with most money winning over 90 percent of the time. Most of the money comes from big corporate special interests, with the richest few drowning out the voice of the vast majority of people. And with the 2014 McCutcheon v. FEC decision, the Supreme Court made a bad situation worse. This ruling struck down aggregate limits on campaign contributions to federal candidates and political committees, making it easier for corporate groups and the super wealthy to contribute large sums directly to candidates and political parties.
The Citizens United case rested on the assumption that allowing for corporate contributions would not increase corruption or the perception of corruption. However, there is a widespread perception of the corrupting influence on political leaders as a result of their need to secure big dollars to get elected. According to a 2012 Brennan Center for Justice poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans believed super PAC spending leads to corruption, and 85 percent believed that, compared with past elections, the money being spent by political groups in elections was more likely to lead to corruption. Thus, it appears that elections are for sale, and that the public sees that campaign contributions are little more than legal bribery.
The extension of constitutional rights to corporations, unions and other similar entities, often known as “corporate personhood,” has opened the door to other insidious problems. For example, corporations avoid environmental protections by claiming that regulatory inspections violate their Fourth Amendment protections from illegal search and seizures. How can clean, safe water be protected if testing effluent is considered a rights violation? In the name of additional profits, corporations use supposed constitutional rights to avoid regulatory pollution controls, while fish die and people get sick.
Corporations have even claimed the First Amendment right to religious freedom, as seen in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case. In this case, a corporation successfully claimed the First Amendment right of religious freedom to avoid complying with a government mandate. That’s right, a corporation — really, an organizational business structure and tax designation — claimed to hold a religious belief. This most treasured right of citizens to believe or not believe in a particular religion was used as a loophole by the corporation. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect living, breathing citizens from government overreach. But through judicial alchemy, the Supreme Court has decided to further empower corporations, perhaps the most powerful man-made organizations, at the expense of the people.
With the disastrous consequences of the Citizens United decision in mind, there is a movement afoot to amend the constitution, to rein in political spending and to end corporate personhood. Nationally, the Move to Amend group is working state by state, town by town, and ultimately person by person to overturn Citizens United by amending the U.S. Constitution. Move to Amend is a national coalition with more than 150 local affiliates and over 370,000 members. Move to Amend supports the We the People Amendment, which clarifies for the Supreme Court and all Americans that money is not speech, and therefore, campaign spending can be regulated; and only human beings — not corporations, unions and the rest — are entitled to constitutional rights.
Thus far, 16 state legislatures have signaled their support in favor of some type of constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. Across the country, almost 600 cities, towns, villages and other organizations have voted in favor of the Move to Amend amendment, often by an overwhelming margin. In Wisconsin’s last election, 12 communities voted in support of an amendment, with every measure garnering at least 70 percent support. To date, 54 Wisconsin communities that have called for the Move to Amend amendment. In total, 2.4 million people (41 percent of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.
On this, the fifth anniversary of the controversial Citizens United decision, it is time to consider the problems that have arisen since this ill-advised, split court decision. The proposed We the People Amendment, with its two central pillars — (1) money is not speech, and therefore, campaign spending can be regulated; and (2) only human beings (not corporations, unions, and similar entities) are entitled to constitutional rights — will do much to address the problems exacerbated by the Citizens United decision. Visit the Wisconsin Move to Amend website to find out how you can join the effort to reclaim our democracy.
Corporate campaign cash breeds corruption
Dear Editor: In the media every day, and out of the mouths of individuals running for office, we hear that we need to be more responsible with money. Yet the corporations who are regarded as “people” show no restraint from throwing unconscionable amounts of money at candidates who will advance their cause: more profits and higher compensation for their CEOs and stockholders.
These same “people” do not seem to feel much responsibility for providing their employees (who have helped them to make enormous profits) with raises, health insurance and retirement benefits. Nor does it appear that employees have much influence about how the company assets are being utilized.
There seems to be ample money in this country despite what our congressional members/candidates tout; it is just being spent in ways that concern me. For example, it is appalling to me that corporations can make ghastly amounts of political contributions to the candidate of their choice. It has been documented repeatedly that political candidates who are the recipients of such campaign donations end up pushing legislation that will advance the financial interests of those corporations.
I urge everyone to research issues and candidates. Demand to know their stance on issues and who are their major campaign contributors. We need to make it clear to those representing us that we do not consider corporations “people” and that money is not free speech.
Wausau wants Big Money out of politics
EDITOR: I’m one of those who took the “Get Big Money Out of Elections” petitions to the Concerts on the Square, our farmers markets and to Wausau’s front doors. What an incredible experience!
At first I was a little hesitant, but after talking with folks, it became clear that most of us resent big money’s influence in our elections and political process. Most of us are sick and tired of the TV, radio and junk mail that twists the truth. Most of us want the candidates to hold open and honest discussion of the issues. We’re tired of unwelcomed robo-calls and misinformation from interest groups and wealthy individuals forcing their way into our homes.
Let me give you some examples of what I heard while getting signatures:
• “Think of what we could do with all this money — the bridges and roads we could build and repair.”
• “The ordinary person can’t run for office because we don’t have enough money.
• “Big money is buying our representatives. If they don’t play the game, they are not re-elected.
The folks I talked to were glad to sign the petition requesting a referendum to ensure only human beings were endowed with Constitutional Rights and, money is not speech!
Vote yes on Nov. 4 to keep Big Money out of our elections.
Kim Everett’s Letter in the HTR News on March 28th, 2014
Get money out of politics, take back our vote
Elections from hell will soon be reined upon us again. Not because of the candidates we may or may not support, or agree with. We’ll always have discourse and debate in this country over who manages our affairs, that’s what a healthy democracy is. What I’m referring to is the endless campaign ads that are out of control already and growing by leaps and bounds, often filled with manipulated and edited information, even outright lies.
This is not a partisan issue, this is corporate money buying elections and commandeering our legislators, nationally and locally. Many of us have heard about the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. What you may not know is the decision allows unlimited spending by Political Action Committees (PACs), which can accept unlimited donations in secret from corporate and wealthy donors and receive a tax-exempt status, collecting billions of dollars of secret dark money and spending it without any regulations that required disclosure. How is that democratic?
Since these donations are in secret, voters don’t have a clue who donates to what party and for what purpose. Do you know whether you’re spending your hard-earned dollars at businesses that support issues you religiously, economically or morally object to? Since most corporations operate and are owned globally, even foreign nationals with interests in U.S. corporations can donate to and influence an American election.
Put a stop to this selling of our democracy. It’s time to support legislation requiring greater disclosure of lobbying activities and identification of who supports lobbying. Support FENA (Fair Elections Now Act), which offers a new system for public financing. Support the DISCLOSE Act. This legislation requires disclosure of all political expenditures going to PACs, candidates and front groups. Support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It’s time for all of us to “Move to Amend” the local, state and federal constitutions and put the vote back in the power of “We the People.”
Join effort to change campaign financing
It’s that time again. Nonstop political ads, many funded by out-of-state lobbyists. This lasts for nine months every two years. Worse than how irritating these ads are is their impact on our representation in government.
In 2012, more than $10 billion was spent on political elections. This kind of outrageous spending can determine the outcome of elections. It can limit who’s willing to run for political office to those who have huge amounts of money or those who have special-interest groups, individuals or businesses willing to spend huge amounts of money for them.
Since most people don’t have the piles of cash needed for these elections, this means someone else is paying for it. So what do you think these financiers want in return for their investment?
While it may not legally be a bribe, this kind of spending provides at least influence on future decisions. These decisions may not be in the best interest of the voters. Our democracy is being sold to the highest bidder.
So what can we do to fix this problem? Since the Supreme Court has interpreted that spending on elections is the same as free speech, the only way it can be fixed is with an amendment to the Constitution.
Amending the Constitution has been done many times in the past. It requires support of two-thirds of our congressional representatives, followed by ratification by three-quarters of the states. Appleton, Neenah, Menasha and other communities across Wisconsin are taking the a first step by collecting signatures to have an advisory referendum placed on November’s ballot. This will communicate to our representatives the broad support behind this change. To get information or find out how you can support this effort, access Appleton Move to Amend on Facebook.
Vote ‘Yes’ on Move to Amend
As our democracy continues to grapple with 21st century issues, it’s time to serious consideration amending the US Constitution to realign a basic and fundamental tenant of our society, reestablishing local control. The people of the Waterloo Township have the chance on April 1 to vote “yes” to do exactly that. A “yes” vote to amend the Constitution says yes to removing money from the election process and restore local control.
In 2010, the Supreme Court gave monied interests extra leverage in our society to make decisions on how we are governed. Our democracy was founded on the free speech of natural citizens not corporations, not wealthy individuals, not unions, and not well funded special interests.
We the people, the people of the town of Waterloo and Jefferson County, must retain local control of our schools, our air quality, our water quality, our land use and the rules that govern our best interests. If the monied interests at the state and national level pass laws to strip our local control what kind of society will we have? Do not permit crusading billionaires the opportunity to push ideas which directly benefit them. Vote “yes “to amend the U.S. Constitution and take money out of politics.
/s/ Steve Bower
Citizens United decision made our political problems worse
I have frequently disagreed with the State Journal’s editorial positions, but I applaud your advocacy for nonpartisan redistricting. I hope you will also champion reducing the obscene amounts of money supporting political campaigns.
I was appalled at the brazen influence-peddling detailed in your report of Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, tailoring a bill to reduce child support paid by the wealthy.
I am also appalled at legislation, now law in Wisconsin, from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which supports the interests of corporations and the wealthy, most of whom are not even local.
With gerrymandered districts, politicians can abuse their power, ignore the majority of constituents and do the bidding of special interests. They are comfortable in the safety of their districts with financial support from deep-pocketed donors.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made the problem of money in politics worse, so we are unlikely to see a legislative remedy. We need a constitutional amendment asserting corporations do not have the constitutional rights of human beings, and money is property, not speech.
Champion nonpartisan redistricting and reducing the corrupting power of money in politics to return government to our citizens.
— Valerie Murphy, Madison
Debra Fairbanks’ Letter in The Monroe Times on January 22, 2013
Let’s Get Big Money Out of Politics
Monday, January 21 marks the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission decision. This ruling declared that for the purpose of campaign contributions, corporations are people and their money is free speech.
In polling, eighty percent of Americans from across the political spectrum have the common sense to know that this is patently absurd. It puts the average citizen at a distinct disadvantage in the process of choosing and electing a representative government. We see the result of this ruling in the circus that is the primary campaign season. We see it in the incessant and disagreeable campaign ads paid for by organizations that are not directly affiliated with the candidates, but instead push the agenda of corporations hiding behind innocent-sounding super-pac names.
We need to reclaim the campaign funding process, removing big money from electoral politics. We need for our own voices to be heard in the state and federal capitols, not the “voice” of those who would sway lawmaking with obscene amounts of money. We can achieve true, comprehensive campaign finance if we, as Americans, unite across party lines and work as one to kick big money out.
Many citizens across the country are pursuing this objective. In February, concerned people in Green County will come together to join them in making our government truly representative. I hope you will too. Look for flyers and community service ads with information on an upcoming county-wide informational meeting, or go to https://moneyout.wordpress.com to sign up for email updates.
Secretary, South Central WI Move To Amend
Jennifer Bleak’s Letter in Janesville Gazette on September 13, 2012 and the Beloit Daily News on September 17, 2012
The curse,“may you live in interesting times,” comes to mind as I look out at Congressman Ryan’s home, kitty corner to mine and the cement barricade, the silver secret service car in front of my house. I attribute these interesting times to the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizen’s United, which allows corporations and foreign countries to donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. Drastically unbalanced campaign funding has resulted. Politicians, who favor the wealthy and corporations are by far the most heavily funded. And politicians, who are more interested in helping the majority of Americans rather than corporations, are less vocal out fear of losing funding. The unprecedented amounts of corporate money donated to this year’s campaigns is spent on unrelenting attack ads to convince the people that their interests lie with candidates most allied with the interests of big oil, the pharmaceutical industry, the Koch brothers, Diane Hendricks, etc. With unlimited funds to run these ads, their frequency becomes more salient than truth. If candidates’ policies favor corporations and the wealthy rather than the majority of Americans, they must necessarily leave their true purposes unspoken and resort to smears and distortions to win popularity. I urge all good citizens to work towards ridding our nation of the corruption fostered by Citizen’s United. Join with Move to Amend, a nonpartisan organization that is working towards this end. You can refer to the website SCWMTA.org.
David Koene’s Letter to the Editor on August 4, 2012
I’m sick of the negative campaign ads already. But am I paying for them? Like many Americans, I own stock in corporations through the mutual funds in my 401k. The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, said these corporations are people and their money – my money – is protected free speech. Therefore, these corporations are free to give limitless campaign contributions but the court’s decision makes no requirement that these contributions be disclosed. So my money could be used against my will to pay for candidates and causes I oppose without my knowledge.
In fact this is already happening. I didn’t put money into my retirement fund to subsidize hatred on the public airwaves. Since the court recently reaffirmed its decision by striking down a century-old Montana law banning corporate campaign contributions, the only alternative is a constitutional amendment stating that corporations are not people and their money is not speech.
David Koene’s Letter to the Editor on August 4, 2012
Freedom of expression does not give my neighbor the right to crank his stereo at bar-time. Freedom of speech does not give anyone the prerogative to drown out opposing viewpoints with a bullhorn. Nor does it include the “right” of corporations to buy our political leaders with blank checks for negative campaign ads. That corporations are not people is common sense. That money isn’t speech is equally obvious, except to those with unlimited quantities of it. Freedom of speech is perhaps the most treasured right guaranteed by our Constitution precisely because it’s an equal right. Each of us has a voice; we each have a point of view; we each have an interest in having our right to speak respected and protected.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision makes a mockery of this right by equating our precious individual right to speak with an invented corporate right to buy politicians. Since the Supreme Court justices hold life-long appointments and are unlikely to reverse their decision anytime soon, the only alternative is to amend the Constitution. For two hundred years the Bill of Rights needed no clarification. Everyone knew it applied to people, not corporations. But if the court doesn’t understand what everyone else knows we’ll need to spell it out for them.
– David Koene
Jane Robert’s Letter to the Editor on July 9, 2012
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited spending by corporations is accelerating the transformation of our democracy into a corporate state.
A few powerful people and huge corporations control the message. In the 2012 elections, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have vowed to raise and spend $700 million. Secret money will fund vicious attack ads against anyone opposing their corporate agenda. That agenda hurts consumers, workers, the environment and the public’s health and safety.
Corporate money and power dominate in Washington. We can dismantle secret campaign money, stop corrupt lobbying, and make regulatory agencies accountable to the public, not corporate profits. Support legislation requiring greater disclosure of lobbying activities and identification of who supports lobbying. Support FENA (Fair Elections Now Act) which offers a new system for public financing. Support the DISCLOSE Act. This legislation requires disclosure of ALL political expenditures going to candidates and front groups. Support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
California, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico have called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
A Move to Amend group meets on the second and fourth Wednesday each month at 7:00 p.m. in Fort Atkinson at the Dwight Foster Public Library Community Room. Everyone is welcome to join this effort.
Bill Reichertz’s Letter to the Editor on June 28, 2012
Editor, Daily Union:
On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Montana state challenge to limit corporate political contributions. This continued regressive‑reactionary, judicial activist, federalist, anti‑states’ rights position, was taken in support of the ludicrous notion of corporate personhood.
This court decision is exactly what we fought against for our independence in 1776. This corporate court is supporting the monarchy of old ‑ today’s corporatocracy. This court’s support for the oxymoron of “corporate personhood” provides common ground for true conservatives and progressives. This federalist decision directly conflicts with anti‑federalist positions of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
Those liberal founding fathers were “liberal” because of their beliefs regarding personal liberty AND economic liberty. When too-big‑to‑fail monopolies exist to bribe politicians of all parties, neither Adam Smith’s free market capitalism, nor our republican form of representative democracy can survive.
This Supreme Court today mentality expects us to believe that speech equals money and that unaccountable corporate entities have the same unalienable rights as persons. They correctly argue that my speech is equal to your speech. They absurdly add that your money is equal to that of unions, unaccountable multinational corporations, and the super rich.
Today 400 Americans have amassed more wealth than 155 million Americans combined. Therefore if speech equals money and we can’t regulate money, it becomes obvious ‑ we have a payola democracy.
When you and I can’t compete, we lose our equal opportunity for the pursuit of happiness and policy is written to protect the paymaster. You and I can’t take a congressperson to Jamaica on a “fact‑finding” mission or pay for her television advertising.
We can’t hire lobbyists to write legislation or pay $1,000 for rubber chicken fundraisers. The best ideas cannot compete. Any politician from any party must now constantly have a nose to the wind to discern the stench from fat cats and their greedy self‑interest.
This SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] decision allows extorted political payback to big money benefactors. Massive majorities from all parties want to strip corporate personhood. We must work together to cut out this cancer. Watch for and support a Move To Amend in your community.
Let’s work together on this essential problem that prevents good public policy based upon the best liberal and conservative ideals necessary for healthy capitalism and healthy democracy.
William J. Reichertz, Watertown.
Jane Fary’s Letter to the Editor on June 25, 2012
MOVE TO AMEND
Editor, Daily Union:
With the presidential elections coming up in November, I am bracing myself for an onslaught of attack ads and phone calls, mostly paid for by Super‑PACS, large corporations, unions and wealthy donors.
Ever since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United versus Federal Election Cornmission,” which in effect said corporations are “people” and can use their almost unlimited amounts of money as “speech,” vast amounts of union and corporate funds have flooded campaigns with endless TV ads supporting or attacking political candidates, drowning out the speech of ordinary citizens. We need to get money out of politics!
The only sure way to correct this situation is to amend the Constitution, which has been done 27 times before. Move To Amend is a non‑partisan grass‑roots movement working to establish a Constitutional Amendment stating “Corporations are not people and money is not speech.” This movement is supported by people with a broad spectrum of political views, working together with mutual respect for each other, whether Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal or conservative.
I am an independent voter who votes in every election, with conservative views on the pro‑life issue but liberal views on a number of social justice issues. Several of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution that established our country, and I am committed to support the “principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.” (The American’s Creed by William Tyier Page.)
Madison, Dane County, West AIlis and Westport have already passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment. Over 250 towns, cities and other organizations across the U.S. have done the same, including five state legislatures. Once enough states press Congress on this, they will be forced to act. For more information, visit the national website MoveToAmend.org and the South Central Wisconsin affiliate website at scwmta.org.
Volunteers from communities in Jefferson and Walworth County are organizing educational events and petition campaigns to place referendums on local ballots, focusing their initial efforts on Fort Atkinson, Watertown, and Whitewater.
Please join us at our next meeting on Wednesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. in the community room of the Dwigbt Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin or contact me at (920) 563‑3072.
Jane Fary, Fort Atkinson.
Bill Reichertz’s Letter to the Editor on May 17, 2012
So many complexities of America’s and Wisconsin’s current political status have been both pulling me to, and preventing me from, attempting to write an understanding and persuasive Letter To the Editor.
The understanding lies in the belief, (which has been reinforced with almost all personal conversation), that we have so many essential beliefs in common. We all agree with phrases such as “equal opportunity,” “consent of the governed,” “promote the general welfare,” and the “pursuit of happiness.” Polls indicate a sizeable majority agree that corporations are not people; that they have become economically and politically unaccountable, and that we are stuck in a trap, unable to see a way out from our political dysfunction. It is also safe to say that most of us want “efficient government” servants accountable to our consent. That is a core principle of democracy. Where we become divided is when wedge issues are used by moneyed benefactors of political parties to rile up the base to eke out razor thin margins in elections where only half the people vote so that donors can be repaid with favorable legislation.
Both major parties lack persuasive ability because one sometimes manipulates often to fear based emotion, while the other tends to ignore genuine fear, and insists only on the logic of its position. I recently took part in a Reach Out Wisconsin event designed to provide a safe format for political conversation. More of this type of effort is necessary. Here is a WKOW News summary: https://www.wkow.com/story/18427489/conservatives-liberals-converge-at-reach-out-wis-meetings
William J. Reichertz, Watertown
Dan Fary’s Letter to the Editor sent to Daily Jefferson County Union Newspaper on April 27, 2012
The control of politics by huge money interests is the defining issue of our time in this country. I would like to strongly encourage citizens to support AMove To Amend, (MoveToAmend.org) for a constitutional amendment stating that ACorporations are not people, and money is not speech.
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that for profit corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution, to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. This permits corporations to buy elections and run our government, by being allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend the Constitution of the United States.
The City of Madison, and the County of Dane in Wisconsin (through Wisconsin State Representatives Mark Pocan and Chris Taylor), the city of West Allis, many other large cities, as well as the states of New Mexico and Hawaii have already passed resolutions calling on the United States Congress to produce an amendment to the Constitution to state clearly that corporations are not people and money is not free speech, overturning the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
This spring, Move To Amend is planning a push to pass 100 new local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment. We are starting a Fort Atkinson affiliate of the national Move To Amend organization, and invite all interested citizens to our first grass-roots presentation and organizational meeting.
Daniel Fary, M.D., Fort Atkinson
Dan Fary’s Letter to the Editor on April 16, 2012
The control of politics by huge money interests is the defining issue of our time in this country. I would like to strongly encourage citizens to support Move To Amend, (MoveToAmend.org) for a constitutional amendment stating that Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. To learn more about how money in politics has been affecting us, watch Bill Moyers & Company on Wisconsin Pubic Televison, WHA-TV Channel 21, at 6 p.m. on Sunday evenings. The especially pertinent first two programs Winner Takes All Politics and Crony Capitalism can be viewed in full at BillMoyers.com, under Video. The first program explains how corporations and wealthy individuals have mutually worked together to advance their own wealth and power, to the loss of the middle class of citizens. Government has been favoring inequality for the last 30 years, causing the tax rate on the very wealthy to come down dramatically. Step by step and debate by debate, our public officials have re-written the rules that govern the economy in ways that favor the few at the expense of the many. This has proven that President Reagan’s Trickle-Down Economics has failed.
The deepest pockets of American business, groups representing business and wealth, Wallstreet, and idealogically conservative organizations pushing for free market policies, have become much more powerful in our politics, while representatives of the middle class, including labor unions, civic organizations, and social movements have all lost enormous ground. Financial inequality has overwhelmed political inequality. The unequal distribution of income looks more like that of a third-world oligarchy…our economy looks more like that of Mexico, Brazil, or Russia, while statistics suggest that financial inequality is greater now in the US than in Egypt. In financial and social mobility, the United States is far behind Australia, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Spain, and Canada.
For the last 30 years there has been massive erosion of our government organizations, which are now in serious disrepair. Government isn’t working well for most Americans. Bill Moyers states: The system isn’t broken, it is fixed (rigged). Politicians need to wake up, inequality really matters. Politics got us into this mess, and politics has to get us out. Enough is enough. This is a movement of our time. It gathers force until the powers that be can no longer sustain the inequality, injustice, and the immorality of winner-takes-all politics.
Daniel Fary, M.D.