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American Promise – What Ohio Can Do About Citizens United

Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision, money in politics has been an increasing factor in shaping public policy, often against the will of the American people. The ruling meant that corporations have the same right to free speech as persons, and that campaign spending is a form of free speech, thereby making PACs legal to collect campaign/candidate funding without identification of donors.

Citizens United has often been considered difficult if not impossible to overcome. But an effort is underway to do just that. American Promise is a leader in the proposal for a constitutional amendment (28th Amendment) that would negate Citizens United. Its website, americanpromise.net, provides useful perspective.

 “On the first day of the 116th Congress, a cross-partisan group of House members introduced a Constitutional amendment to combat corruption, empower voters over donors, and secure the equal rights of Americans to effective representation and participation in self-government. Support for limiting the undue influence of big money has widespread support from Americans of every political persuasion, and the movement is also gaining traction in Congress with elected representatives on both sides of the aisle.”

As American Promise points out, the involvement of state governments is important to ratify the Amendment. Among the states that have passed related legislation is Montana. On overcoming the challenges in ratification of the Amendment, Montana governor and presidential candidate Steve Bullock told MSNBC in a July 27th program: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And “How do you drain a swamp? On bucket at a time.” So far, 20 states and more than 800 cities and towns have already passed similar resolutions, and citizen leaders in hundreds more communities across the country are organizing to grow these numbers, according to American Promise.

In Ohio, American Promise has spoken to several State Representatives to ensure their support, and requested sponsors for the Ohio bill.  Mindy Hedges, Hong Nguyen (volunteers from Delaware County for American Promise) and Jan Nishimura (volunteer from American Promise) had a meeting with State Representative Kris Jordan in late June to discuss this Amendment and to solicit his support at the State level.  Representative Jordan showed interest in the Amendment, and was willing to consider after reading more about this proposal. 

One of the most intriguing points to this Amendment is the restriction on campaign contributions, which, in return, would limit the time a candidate would have to solicit donations. For any candidate, this element of the Amendment makes it very appealing as most candidates and politicians find they spend, on the average, almost 60% of their time requesting donations.  Some statistics reveal that a Senator must raise $4,780 every day of the term and a Representative must bring in $2,340 per day, every day, including holidays and weekends.

Members of Congress gets Monday and Friday off every week for fundraising.  In addition, they spend every Saturday and Sunday, the entire month of August, and a few weeklong vacations for national holidays, and half of every Tuesday on fundraising. This fundraising situation leaves half of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every week for constituent services. On average, a Congressman spends 9 days a month in their office working.

Please contact Representative Jordan to let him know your support to bring this Amendment to the Ohio House floor by calling (614) 644-6711. For more information about American Promise, please go to their website by clicking on americanpromise.net