Politics Blog

'Move to Amend' would take corporate money out of elections

Move to Amend has gained traction in Whatcom County.

MTA is a national movement to wipe out the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

As the group's website says, it wants an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would "firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights."

Ask Kevin Probasco, one of the founding members of the nascent Whatcom County chapter of Move to Amend, for local examples of the excessive influence of money in elections and he has some ready answers:

"The County Council races had a lot of outside money coming in, and the GMO statewide initiative. And the last cycle was the liquor initiative," Probasco said in a phone interview this afternoon. 

In 2011, Initiative 1183 privatizing liquor sales set a state record for the most money spent by a single campaign. The yes-to-private-liquor campaign spent $20.1 million that year, only to be eclipsed two years later by No on I-522 (GMO labeling), which spent $21.5 million. (I-1183/liquor kept the record for most money raised by both sides combined, $34.9 million to I-522's $30.4 million.)

When combining donations to each of the eight candidates, the Whatcom Democrats and Republicans, and outside groups running independent campaigns, the County Council races drew more than $1 million -- unprecedented for a county-level election.

The Whatcom chapter of Move to Amend may take on some of these state and local issues later, Probasco said. At first, the chapter will work on the organization's statewide effort to get an initiative on the November 2014 ballot that would put Washington on the list of states calling for a constitutional amendment.

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Here's the information Whatcom's Move to Amend group has released:

The last two major election cycles in Washington State have seen an obscene amount of money from both sides of the political aisle--each doing their best to buy an election. Seeing elections and legislation for sale has many citizens wondering how to fix a system that seems broken. The solution is at the same time simple and complex: we must amend the constitution to get money out of politics.

In 2012, the City of Bellingham passed a resolution in support of such a move, and in the fall of 2103, an enthusiastic crowd welcomed Move to Amend's Ashley Sanders, proving our community agrees that the time to amend is now. A group of local citizens have joined together and are in the process of forming a Whatcom County Affiliate of Move to Amend. Our main objective is to unite the community to organize in the fight against the influence of money in politics. We are not aligned with any political party, and we feel very strongly that the issue crosses all political lines. Concerned citizens from the Right and Left are encouraged to get involved. 

Our first community project will be to assist WAmend in their effort to pass a statewide initiative. Once passed, this initiative will add Washington to the growing list of states that support a constitutional amendment.

The amendment would clarify that:

The rights of people protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of human beings only.

All citizens should have equal voice in the political process, and no person or artificial legal entity should gain unequal influence over government as a result of financial resources. To meet this goal, federal, state, and local governments shall be fully empowered to regulate all political contributions and expenditures.

All political contributions and expenditures shall be publicly disclosed in a full and timely manner.

Beginning in January, we will begin collecting signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, and we are currently looking for volunteer signature gatherers. If you are interested in volunteering you can sign up with WAmend, and our local group will contact you once the time is right.

Sign up here: http://www.wamend.org/documents/

For more information on the local group or to see how you can get involved, please email us at mtaw@robamel.com