California became the sixth state to take a stand against Citizens United, which has given corporations and individuals unlimited power to spend on federal and state of elections. The California Senate voted yesterday 24-11 to pass the resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass an amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling.
California’s Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 22 puts California in the company of Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maryland as states working to put an end to what amounts to legalized political bribery.
A coalition of groups including Public Citizen, Common Cause, California PIRG, CREDO Mobile, California Church IMPACT, Free Speech for People, California Labor Federation, California League of Conservation Voters, and many other organizations advanced the resolution and kept pressure on the legislature to pass AJR 22. The coalition worked with California Assembly members Bob Wieckowski and Michael Allen in introducing the resolution.
“Today’s vote sends a clear message that California rejects this misguided ruling made by the conservative activists on the Supreme Court,” Wieckowski said. “The Legislature’s action and the 50,000 Californians who quickly signed petitions in support of AJR 22, show that it is time to restore sanity to our campaign finance laws. If Congress doesn’t act, our electoral process will be more dominated by wealthy interests and their concerns will drown out the voice of common Americans. This resolution is designed to send a grassroots message to Washington about the urgent need to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling and restore fair elections to the people.”
California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg added: “I’m proud that the California State Senate passed AJR 22, memorializing our disagreement with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and calling upon the U.S. Congress to act to overturn the decision. Since the decision, large corporations and the wealthy have dominated campaign spending. We must tip the scales back to a balance that once again gives a strong voice to the people.”
“California, the nation’s largest state, has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and return fair elections and constitutional rights to the people,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “The voices of the 99% are growing stronger in demanding a government that is truly by and for the people. Together we will create a more democratic and more just nation.”
The GOP, with the help of the Citizens United-created super PAC mess, is aiming to raise $1 billion in outside money and could ultimately outspend the Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin according to officials in the budgeting of these groups on the right and left. A perfect example of this degree of campaign fundraising and spending was witnessed in the Wisconsin recall election, in which Governor Scott Walker out-raised his Democratic opponent by a 7-to-1 margin. Two-thirds of his $30.5 million in campaign contributions came from out-of-state donors.
“Unless we aim to turn over control of our elections to Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sheldon Adelson and a very few others, we need a constitutional amendment to reset our campaign finance system and to re-establish the principle that democracy means rule by the people, not giant corporations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.