Local push to stop corporate campaign funding

On primary election day a number north of a dozen and south of two dozen showed up at state Sen. Tim Sheldon’s office in Shelton to encourage action for a future election. They plan to be at state Sen. Jan Angel’s office on Wednesday.

What they’re asking for is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that corporations are not people and that money does not equal speech.

money

This comes within days after former President Jimmy Carter told an interviewer that the United States has become an oligarchy with bribery the prime way of getting things done.

“So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over.” — Former President Jimmy Carter

A House Bill, HJR 34, supporting a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision,  was introduced in 2013 and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer signed on as a co-sponsor. There were 75 co-sponsors on that bill. Every one was a Democrat, which for now probably gives you an idea of what the chances are of the amendment having any chance at all. We do not live in bipartisan times.

This year’s bill, HJR 22, has 136 co-sponsors, including Kilmer and one Republican. A Senate version, SJR 5, has 39 co-sponsors. Sen. Patty Murray is one. Sen. Maria Cantwell is not. No Republicans have signed onto the Senate version. (These sentences were added after this post was originally published.)

There is a separate bill, HJR 48, that only had eight co-sponsors. Kilmer is not among them.

The amendment will surely be proposed in future sessions until it passes or the appetite for the argument goes away. That there could be a national incident that influences the electorate to get Congress’ attention is one way sentiment behind this idea could change.

The local effort takes a different tack, getting voters to back the idea and hoping that reluctant members of Congress from this state take notice.

WAmend, the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution is the group behind the local petitioning effort, and the move to get signatures for a 2016 ballot initiative that would urge our members of Congress to get the Amendment process and our legislators to vote for the Amendment when it’s our turn to vote.

The group has a letter from legislators to members of Congress, a letter that has 24 signatures. They come from 23 Democrats (Every one except Sheldon) and one Republican, Mark Miloscia, who used to be a Democrat. One more signature and they have a majority.

On Aug. 17, David Cobb, who is the founding member of the national organization Move to Amend, will be speaking locally. The event runs 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, 105 Winslow Way West on Bainbridge Island.

The video that follows recalls a visit by the “Ben” of the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream company, Ben Cohen, when he visited Kitsap a year ago to drum up support for the effort.

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