Election preview: Move to Amend issue on Mentor ballot

September 22, 2014
Betsy Scott

More than 33,000 Mentor residents can cast their vote on a Nov. 4 ballot issue that supports amending the U.S. Constitution.

Passage of Issue 5 — the result of a nonpartisan initiative petition — would create a city ordinance to accomplish the following:

• Beginning in February 2015, establishment of a “Democracy Day” on which the city manager and City Council sponsor a public hearing examining the impact of political contributions of corporations, unions, PACs and Super-PACs on the city; and public testimony on the topic from city officials and residents.

• Submission of a letter from the city manager to state and federal representatives informing them of the November 2014 initiative calling for a constitutional amendment declaring that: Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights; and money isn’t equivalent to speech and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

• Holding biennial public hearings for 10 years or until a constitutional amendment reflecting the proposed principles is ratified by the state legislature.

The entire text of the amendment can be found at movetoamend.org/amendment.

Move to Amend, a national coalition, launched the campaign following the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, in which some provisions of the Campaign Reform Act of 2002 were overturned, and corporate entities and labor unions were granted the same rights as individuals to unrestricted spending on political speech, the initiative petition said.

“In reaching its decision, a majority of the Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech as natural persons; and … the Court’s decision, in effect, allows unlimited corporate spending to influence campaigns, elections, lawmaking and public policy decisions; and … severely restricts the ability of federal, state and local governments to enact reasonable campaign finance reforms and regulations regarding corporate political activity …,” it said.

“This amendment does a lot more than just overturn Citizens United vs. FEC, 2010,” said Frank Hribar, a member of Move to Amend of Mentor. “This restores rights to where they belong, to humans. Entities without a belly button should never have been granted rights. Privileges are for artificially created entities; irrevocable rights are for humans only.”

He noted that MTA isn’t against such entities.

“Quite the contrary, we feel that the capitalist system of economics works well,” he said. “We are against these entities writing laws to their benefit and having these laws passed legislatively due to political favors owed to large contributors. The system currently favors large businesses and unions that can afford to contribute. Small businesses cannot afford such luxury and thus are forced to compete on an uneven playing field.”

Hribar said many not-for-profit organizations make political contributions in an effort to obtain taxpayer funding and other governmental favors.

“These organizations can better utilize this money for their altruistic purpose of existence,” he said.

More than 200 ballot initiatives with equivalent language have been passed nationwide, Hribar said. Similar measures were passed in Cleveland Heights and Defiance last November, and in Brecksville and Newburgh Heights in 2012.

The initiative also will be before Chagrin Falls and Lakewood voters this fall.

For more information, visit movetoamend.org or contact Hribar at 440-364-4970 or f.hribar [at] roadrunner.com.

Groups audience: