MA Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge did not throw up his hands last year when the SCOTUS passed Citizens United by five to four. He proposed commonwealth and federal fixes to unlimited, undisclosed campaign and advertising contributions under the guise of corporate free speech.
You can head over to his website for the overview or the details. You can also click the player below for a half hour show in which he describes his two bills and his call for a U.S. Constitutional amendment.
Many of us were outraged by or despondent after learning the corporations-are-people and money-is-free-speech ruling. Eldridge apparently is high on the outrage but very low on being paralyzed by despair. He gave it a go last year here and reintroduced two bills to set up the rules for MA-chartered corporations. They are advancing through the hearing process and he’s working for quick acceptance.
They would require such acts as corporations including political donations in their quarterly reports and getting two-thirds shareholder approval for such donations over $5,000. They would at least take off the cloak of secrecy from local corporations. He said that other such resolutions and bills are beginning elsewhere in response to citizen anger.
He figures MA has the opportunity to enact this first and serve as a model for other states. He thinks this would be good for the citizens, the legislature and the governor. As he put it, it is both good public policy and good politics.
Toward the end of our show today, he admitted that legislators will likely weigh the cost and benefit here. Many get contributions from companies and after the ruling, this might be more. Yet, polls strongly indicate that voters strongly disapprove of hidden, unlimited campaign funding.
For the national effort to get an amendment in the works, Eldridge is pragmatic. He knows how long it takes and how elaborate amending the Constitution is. That is an additional reason he thinks that do what is possible on the state level is essential right now.
He gave a small example of nibbling away at the new reality. In the previous budget process, he inserted language that required at least one person from an organization paying for political ads to appear and speak at the end of the ad, saying he or she approved the ad. It’s a start at restoring openness. He’s working the top and bottom on this.
One of our MA legislators who decidedly has our backs is Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge. He is now fighting at state and national levels to overcome the awful effects of theCitizens United SCOTUS decision.
He joined us to explain why it’s not OK for corporations to be treated like flesh-and-blood human citizens with Constitutional rights. It’s not OK for unlimited money to be used for political advertising with no public disclosure of who’s funding it.
Rather than whine, he is working at both levels to overturn the effects of the ruling. In the commonwealth, he created and is working to pass two bills, detailed here. Among other things, these require that MA chartered corporations reveal such political expenditures in their quarterly reports and that they give two-third shareholder approval for such expenditures above $5,000.
On the national level, he is asking for Congress to pass and send to the states a Constitutional amendment “to correct the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. This resolution would clarify that Freedom of Speech is a right of citizens, not corporations. That bill is currently before the Judiciary committee.” He has begun working with MA’s Congressional delegation to advance this.
Listen in as describes what he’s done so far, where the bills, what the prospects are for both the bills and the amendment, and even what the conflicts are for legislators who would limit contributions that might come their way.