Group addressed City Club on Measure 02-81
Proponents of Measure 02-81 took their message to the City Club on Monday, saying that corporations are not entitled to the same free speech as individual citizens.
Members of the local Move to Amend group are in sympathy with a national effort by the same name that supports amending the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court decision in the 2010 Citizens United case.
But this local measure is advisory only and does not require any action if it passes.
In the controversial Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission decision, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.
The decision has led to the creation of “super PACs,” groups which may not make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties, but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns.
Super PACs spent more during this year’s Republican primaries than the candidates themselves, adding millions of dollars in election spending.
“Considering all of the money flooding into politics at this time it’s a good time to be putting on a campaign like this,” said local organizer Rachel Ozretich.
Ozretich and her backers have specifically targeted two pieces of the Citizens United case: that corporations have the same rights as people and that money is the equivalent of free speech.
“Corporations are not people and money is not speech,” said Ozretich. “These are two legal fictions. The only way to address this is to amend the Constitution.”
After presentations by Ozretich, her husband Bob and small-business organizer Lee Mercer, City Club members and visitors discussed the issue at their tables before directing questions of the panelists.
One came from Ward 3 councilor Richard Hervey, who asked why the group chose the route of a ballot measure rather than a City Council resolution.
“In order for this to have any chance at all it had to be from the grass roots up,” said Bob Ozretich. “The City Council is just nine individuals.”
Move to Amend resolutions have passed municipal legislatures in Portland, Eugene, Newport and Coos Bay, Mercer said. Ballot measures also will be decided Nov. 6 in Lincoln County, Ashland, Silverton Baker City and Yachats.
The Oregon Legislature is scheduled to take up the matter next year.
Move to Amend
WHAT: An advisory measure on the Corvallis ballot in November that calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court decision on campaign.financing.
ABOUT THE PROCESS: The main mechanism for amending the Constitution is for a bill to pass both houses of Congress on a two-thirds vote and be ratified by three-quarters of the states
Contact reporter James Day at jim.day [at] gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day