Group works to ready ballot initiative to curb corporations

April 3, 2012
Cathy McKitrick

Move to Amend Salt Lake, a group seeking to get a citywide initiative on November’s ballot as part of a national effort to curb corporate power, hit a snag late Thursday and might not have petitions to sign until the end of the month.

Volunteers must gather 7,141 valid voter signatures by the April 15 deadline, and Move to Amend Salt Lake organizer Ashley Sanders voiced frustration over continued delays from the City Recorders Office.

"We’re trying to operate in good faith," Sanders said. "I don’t know if this is incompetence or obstruction of a democratic process."

About three months ago, the group began working with Salt Lake County to get the initiative process under way and were directed to the city recorder three weeks ago, Sanders said, where at one point they were erroneously told that their ballot initiative could not be done in a general election year. They sought legal advice and began making progress again.

About 120 people attended Move to Amend Salt Lake’s kick-off session at the Salt Lake City Main Library on Wednesday night, and expected to receive the printed petitions Thursday. But late in the day they were told they might not be available until Feb. 27.

The Tribune could not reach the city recorder for comment late Thursday, but earlier that afternoon Art Raymond, spokesman for Mayor Ralph Becker, responded to The Tribune’s request for information about the status of the group’s petitions by saying he had not heard back from the recorders office.

Supporters hope that Salt Lake City can join 50 cities nationwide to send the message that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

For well over a century, various U.S. Supreme Court rulings have been granting such rights to corporations, with the most recent decision — Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission — allowing corporations to infuse unlimited funding into election campaigns.

The ultimate goal of Move to Amend and other like-minded groups around the country is to amend the Constitution and overturn corporate personhood.

"Hopefully none of us have any delusions about the difficulty of this task," Sanders told supporters Wednesday. "This is not a walk in the park. We’re going to be doing things that profoundly threaten the corporate elite in this country, which includes the Democratic and Republican parties."


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