Katie Steinmuller, Lakewood Move to Amend, deadspzzt [at] gmail.com, 440-799-5560
Carla Rautenberg, Cleveland Heights Move to Amend, rcarla [at] aol.com, 216-932-5618
David Lima, Mentor Move to Amend, dlima [at] sbcglobal.net, 440-255-4516
Greg Coleridge, Ohio Move to Amend, gcoleridge [at] afsc.org, 216-255-2184
For Immediate Release -- Monday July 1, 2013
NE OHIO CITIZENS DECLARE INDEPENDENCE FROM CORPORATE RULE AND BIG MONEY IN POLITICS
Call for Constitutional Amendment Declaring Corporations Are Not People and Money is Not Speech – 3 Communities Work To Place on Ballot and Let Voters Decide
While many area residents and communities prepare for the July 4th Holiday with picnics and parades, citizens in Lakewood, Cleveland Heights and Mentor are celebrating Independence Day by launching or completing citizen initiative petition campaigns.
The three citizen initiatives are part of the national Move to Amend campaign (http://movetoamend.org), a national coalition that has coordinated the passage of more than 450 municipal resolutions and citizen initiatives. Move to Amend formed in response to the 2010 Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision, which expanded never-intended constitutional rights for corporations. That decision resulted in record sums of spending on political advertising by corporations and wealthy individuals in 2012 through SuperPACs and 501, c-4 social welfare organizations – structures that shielded the sources of much of the political contributions.
Lakewood citizens submited 664 signatures to their City on June 26. A total of 486 valid signatures are required for council to take up the issue.
Cleveland Heights citizens will submit more than 3000 signatures to their City on July 1. Residents believe 1547 valid signatures are required for council to address the issue.
Mentor citizens will launch their citizen initiative campaign on July 4. Approximately 1776 (a very appropriate number) valid signatures are needed for their initiative to gain ballot access for the November, 2014 election.
These initiatives, if passed at the municipal level, require local officials to write letters to their federal and state representatives stating that citizens in those communities have voted for a Constitutional Amendment declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess constitutional rights and that money is not equivalent to political speech. The letters further point out to members of Congress that the passage of these ballot issues shall be considered an instruction, from those citizens, to their elected representatives.
All three citizen initiatives also call for an annual public hearing sponsored by their respective cities to explore the meaning of democracy and the impact of political money from all sources on their communities.
"The combination of corporations being declared 'persons' and money defined as 'speech' by the Supreme Court has inhibited the ability of the vast majority of We the People to govern ourselves," said Katie Steinmuller of Lakewood Move to Amend. "On issue after issue, corporations and the wealthy few shape the laws and regulations in their own interests at the expense of ours. We need to amend the Constitution to affirm that people, especially those without money, have our voices heard and our communities helped."
“In a way, Citizens United was simply the logical result of the increasing power of all kinds of corporate entities (including unions) in our electoral system. It made blindingly obvious and substantially worse, what had already been taking place for decades, “ stated Carla Rautenberg of Cleveland Heights Move to Amend.
"We look forward to our amendment restoring the ability of the people to regulate money in political campaigns,” said David Lima of Mentor Move to Amend. “We strongly believe this amendment will result in a more just and stronger democracy."
There is plenty of action on this issue statewide. Voters in Brecksville and Newburgh Heights passed Move to Amend ballot measures in November 2012. Citizens in Defiance will vote on a similar proposal this November.
City council resolutions consistent with the Move to Amend principles have passed in Athens, Oberlin, Fremont and Barberton. Additionally, Move to Amend leaders in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Oxford, Summit County, and Newark are working on passing council resolutions.
“Ohioans are doing our part to support this growing national movement to end the bizarre legal doctrines that corporations are protected by the Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights and that political money is equivalent to political speech,” states Greg Coleridge, coordinator of the Ohio Move to Amend network (http://movetoamend.org-ohio) and Director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. "Most of the political and economic problems we face are at their root problems of corporations and/or the wealthy few having greater power and rights than the vast majority of We the People."
The Ohio Move to Amend network is composed on 16 affiliate and partner groups across Ohio -- all working to end corporate personhood and money as speech.
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