Move to Amend Salt Lake City Collects 11,400 Signatures to Qualify Ballot Measure

April 16, 2012
Cathy McKitrick

About 60 Move to Amend Salt Lake activists gathered on the steps of the Salt Lake City & County building Monday to savor a win fueled purely by people power.

They represented the 150 volunteers who spent the past 60 days gathering 11,251 signatures — far exceeding the required 7,141 names of registered voters to put a resolution on November’s Salt Lake City ballot aimed at eventually overturning a Supreme Court decision regarding unlimited corporate campaign contributions. 

Voters in Utah’s capital city will be asked to either endorse or reject the following:

1) Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights

2) Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

Ashley Sanders, co-coordinator of Move to Amend Salt Lake credited their success, so far, to everyday people who went door-to-door, store-to-store and park-to-park, seeking support for those statements.

"This is not just about money in politics," Sanders said. "This is a democracy movement … its a movement about everyday people declaring their independence from corporate rule."

The grass-roots organization is one of several advancing city council resolutions and ballot measures in 90 cities across the nation. Their ultimate goal is to persuade Congress or the states to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. By holding that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures, the ruling opened the door for unlimited amounts of corporate and union contributions to the powerful political action committees that are influencing the current election cycle.

Such an amendment would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the states before it could become part of the Constitution.

Pete Ashdown, an Internet entrepreneur and Democrat running for Utah’s U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Orrin Hatch, praised the effort Monday and said he personally is refusing to take any PAC money during his campaign.

Voters in Utah’s capital city will be asked to either endorse or reject the following:

1) Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights

2) Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

Ashley Sanders, co-coordinator of Move to Amend Salt Lake credited their success, so far, to everyday people who went door-to-door, store-to-store and park-to-park, seeking support for those statements.

"This is not just about money in politics," Sanders said. "This is a democracy movement … its a movement about everyday people declaring their independence from corporate rule."

The grass-roots organization is one of several advancing city council resolutions and ballot measures in 90 cities across the nation. Their ultimate goal is to persuade Congress or the states to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. By holding that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures, the ruling opened the door for unlimited amounts of corporate and union contributions to the powerful political action committees that are influencing the current election cycle.

Such an amendment would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the states before it could become part of the Constitution.

Pete Ashdown, an Internet entrepreneur and Democrat running for Utah’s U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Orrin Hatch, praised the effort Monday and said he personally is refusing to take any PAC money during his campaign.

"I’m advocating for not only this amendment but a public-financing amendment, as well," Ashdown said. "The Internet gives us great potential to expand democracy and do away with corruption."

After the morning petition announcement, some participants formed a bike brigade to pedal south and deliver the petitions to Salt Lake County’s elections office at 2001 S. State St.

County officials have until May 15 to check names against their database of registered voters, said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson. If a sufficient number are verified, the petitions go back to the Salt Lake City Recorder’s Office to determine if the resolution meets all of the necessary legal requirements to be on the November ballot.

Salt Lake City resident Howard Bartlett, 62, was among the cyclists delivering the petitions, and said he had personally gathered 500 of the 11,251 names.

It was Bartlett’s first petition drive.

"I’m not a political person," Bartlett said, acknowledging that he had protested the Vietnam War "a hundred years ago."

"This is very important because I worry about young people and what kind of world they’re going to have," Bartlett said. "This is just the first step."

 

 

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