Senate Vote on Campaign Spending: Does it go Far Enough?

September 8, 2014
Mary Kuhlman

Public News Service - OH | September 2014 | Download audio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – What's being called an historic vote in the U.S. Senate today has created a divide within the movement to limit campaign spending.

Senate Joint Resolution 19 is a constitutional amendment allowing the states and Congress to regulate campaign spending.

It would offset the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that says money is a form of free speech. 

Greg Coleridge, coordinator of the Move to Amend Ohio network, says it is a step in the right direction, but it is insufficient.

"If it doesn't address the twin constitutional doctrine that corporations are persons, which this measure does not, then the powers to be and the people with money will simply find a way around any banishment or any limitation," he explains.

Coleridge says the measure needs to include the constitutional doctrine that corporations are not people and only human beings have inalienable rights. 

The resolution is not expected to pass given that it needs two-thirds support, but supporters say the vote itself is an important symbolic victory in what will likely be a long-term political effort to get big money out of politics.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is among the 48 co-sponsors of the resolution.

Nearly 600 communities around the country have passed ballot measures or amendment resolutions calling for an end to corporate personhood and money as speech. 

In Ohio, Mentor and Chagrin Falls both have similar measures on the November ballot. 

Coleridge maintains people feel they are left out of politics.

"The real energy is at the grass root and not simply something that is being advocated for inside the beltway,” she stresses. “To change public policy and to really change fundamental things you've got to really build a social movement and that can only happen when you build from the bottom up."

A June Gallup poll found eight in 10 Americans support limiting the amount of money that candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives can raise and spend for their campaigns.

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