Democracy Activists Challenge Parties to Take a Stand on Corporate Personhood

Friday, September 7, 2012

CONTACT: Beatriz Alvarado, press [at], (707) 269-0984

CHARLOTTE, NC – As the Democratic National Convention came to a close in Charlotte, N.C., Move to Amend, the national campaign to amend the Constitution to abolish Corporate Personhood, critiqued the Democratic Party’s weak and inconsistent position on corporate political influence.

Taking aim at the party’s platform, Move to Amend spokesperson Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap said that newly added language in support of a constitutional amendment to address campaign finance reform doesn’t go far enough.

“This proposal fails to address the illegitimate doctrines of Corporate Personhood and money as speech,” she said. “We appreciate that Democratic leaders are responding to public pressure on this issue, but their platform language is as weak as their promise not to finance their own convention with corporate cash.”

Despite an earlier vow to fund the convention entirely through contributions from individuals, corporate sponsorships figured prominently in Charlotte this week. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bank of America and Coca-Cola were among sixteen companies that collectively contributed at least $11 million toward convention-related festivities.

This inconsistency mirrors President Barack Obama’s own controversial approach to campaign financing. While critical of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, President Obama has nonetheless welcomed the support of Super PACs in his re-election campaign.

The issue of Corporate Personhood wasn’t totally missing from the convention however. U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren drew her biggest applause Wednesday night with a stinging retort to Mitt Romney's claim that “corporations are people.”

Commenting on Warren’s critique of Romney, Sopoci-Belknap pointed out that Romney’s position is in lockstep with the Republican platform, which defends the Citizens United ruling and explicitly declares that money is equivalent to speech.

A 2011 survey by Hart Research Associates found that 79% of voters are supportive of a constitutional amendment that would not only overturn Citizens United, but also state that corporations do not have the same rights as people. Broken down by party, 87% of Democrats were supportive, as were 82% of Independents and 68% of Republicans.

“Both major parties are out of touch with American values,” said Sopoci-Belknap. “Unlike Mitt Romney and Republican leaders, President Obama and the Democrats are beginning to listen, but their responses still leave a lot to be desired. That’s why Move to Amend is committed to building this grassroots movement and demanding an amendment that will actually reign in corporate power and big money in politics."

Move to Amend is a national coalition seeking to pass a constitutional amendment that states that Constitutional rights belong to human beings only, not to artificial legal entities such as corporations or labor unions; and that money is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

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