Massachusetts Voters to Weigh in on Campaign Finance and Corporate Rights this November

July 24, 2012
Lee Ketelson

(Boston, MA) – Many Massachusetts voters will see a question on the November ballot asking their
opinion on big money in politics and whether corporations should have the same constitutional rights as
people. That’s because activists of the Democracy Amendment Coalition of Massachusetts (DACMA)
this week submitted to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin nearly 20,000 signatures from
registered voters to place a question on the 2012 ballot. The ballot question instructs state legislators to pass
a state resolution calling on Congress to propose a Constitutional amendment affirming that (1) corporations
are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as human beings, and (2) Congress and the States may
place limits on political contributions and spending.

Since May, Common Cause Massachusetts, Move to Amend and other members of DACMA have collected
signatures throughout the Commonwealth. According to the coalition, voters in 33 state representative and
6 state senate districts, approximately thirty-five percent of the state’s voters, will have the opportunity to
vote on this question in the fall. The districts comprise 178 communities and are located in Essex County,
Metrowest, the Cape and Islands, Western Massachusetts, and parts of Boston. For a full list of districts and
municipalities, click here.

“Common Cause members and activists affiliated with many different organizations across the
state have worked very hard collecting all these signatures,” said Pam Wilmot of Common Cause
Massachusetts. “This is truly a grassroots effort by volunteers alarmed by the Citizens United decision and
fed up with big money in politics and an increasingly dysfunctional democracy. People from all across the
Commonwealth from all backgrounds have taken up the cause and brought it to their local officials, town
meetings, and now to the 2012 ballot. The community response has been terrific. Many people couldn’t
wait to sign our petition.”

Lee Ketelsen of Move to Amend said, "Voter instruction through ballot questions is one of the few forms
of real democracy not superseded by super PACS. Using a tradition dating back to the passage of the 17 th
Amendment, we can help restore our democracy, not just by limiting campaign spending, but by preventing
corporations from exercising rights intended solely for We the People."

The ballot question campaign is just one component of a much larger nationwide movement to rid elections
of special interest money and affirm that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as
human beings. Citizens have already qualified a similar measure for the statewide ballot in Montana drafted
by Common Cause and Free Speech for People and reformers are circulating petitions in Colorado to
qualify a statewide measure there as well.The movement started in response to the Court’s ruling in Citizens
United v FEC (2010), which extended constitutional protection to corporate entities and swept away a
century of legal precedent barring corporate money in elections.

To date, over 300 communities across the country have passed local resolutions calling for a constitutional
amendment, including major cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and New York. With 68 municipalities
having passed resolutions, Massachusetts is one of the states leading the effort.

“As the super-rich and giant corporations spend billions to dominate our elections, we know things will
only get worse unless we act now. The people are demanding an amendment state by state. Massachusetts
will join them.” said Davio Danielson, a DACMA activist in western Massachusetts.

Six states – California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont – have called for
Congress to propose a constitutional amendment redressing the kinds of problems Massachusetts voters are
now speaking up about. Resolutions at the state level are being considered in many other states, including
Massachusetts (S.772). Eleven state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha
Coakley, have written to Congress urging action. In addition, 22 state attorneys general urged the Supreme
Court to uphold a Montana law challenging Citizens United, which the Court declined to do in a decision
last month.

“The voice of the people is clear, and getting louder every day,” Avi Green, co-director of MassVOTE said,
Politics should be for people, not corporations. Our democracy should not be for sale. We must amend.”
 

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