Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of the misguided, destructive Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs FEC, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections at all levels of government, and to set the political agenda through multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.
As a public servant and representative of the people, I hold the following truth to be self-evident: that democracy should not be bought or sold. As the only Clean Elections candidate elected to public office in Massachusetts history in November 2002, I understand the critical need to reduce the influence of special interest money on elections, and in my time as a legislator, I have continued to fight the influence of money in our political system because it breeds corruption and drowns out the voices of ordinary citizens.
Earlier this week, I was joined by a courageous group of state legislators and advocacy groups in support of a resolution – S722: A Resolution Restoring Free Speech — I’ve filed calling upon the U.S. Congress to send to the states a constitutional amendment that would overturn the decision reached in Citizens United and restore our ability to regulate corporate political spending.
You can watch video of the press conference here:
We are already seeing the effects of the Citizens United decision on our elections. Just a few days ago, Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson cut a $5 million check to support Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid. Super PACs have already spent $28.5 million on advertising in the Republican presidential campaign—and we are nearly a year away from the election!
If we are to live up to our ideal of a democracy of the people, for the people, and by the people, we must end the system of politics-to–the-highest-bidder.
In the short-term, I have proposed S304: An Act Relative to Disclosure of Political Spending, which would require corporations to disclose their political spending and to identify themselves in advertisements that they fund. Additionally, I have filed S305: An Act Relative to Accountability for Corporate Political Spending, which would require corporations to receive prior approval from the board of directors before committing funds for political purposes, and to notify shareholders of those expenditures.
The only long-term solution, however, is to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the decision.
Massachusetts has been a pioneer in progressive causes, from universal health care to gay marriage. Let’s make Massachusetts a first again—this time in calling upon Congress to pass this critical amendment.
If you support these bills and want to see them become law, please be sure to contact your representatives and let them know. You can look up your State Representative and State Senators and find contact information here.
The bill will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 28th at 1pm.
By enacting these reforms we can ensure that elections are truly decided by “we the people,” and not corporate special interests