It’s time for Montanans to stand up for themselves.

More and more, our individual voices are getting drowned out by big money in politics. The recent Citizens United v. FEC decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has made the situation intolerable.

That’s why on Feb. 28, we filed a citizens’ initiative that we hope will appear on the 2012 ballot.

This initiative states clearly that corporations are not people. Corporations do not breathe, they do not have children, they do not die fighting in wars for our country, and they do not vote in elections.

We hope that you’ll stand with Montanans in this fight. This is one of the greatest challenges in our lifetime and we Montanans are in a critical position in this historic debate.

Here is what we’re up against: The Citizens United decision, supported by five of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, ruled that corporations have a First Amendment-protected right to free speech that allows them to spend unlimited corporate money in our elections.

Following this ruling, American Tradition Partnership (then called Western Tradition Partnership), sued our state, claiming that Montana’s visionary 100-year-old Corrupt Practices Act, which bans corporations from spending on candidate elections, is unconstitutional. On Dec. 30, 2011, the Montana Supreme Court stood up for our state and issued a ruling that upholds our century-old law.

On Feb. 17 this year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of that ruling and will soon decide whether to hear the case.

All this has eliminated Montana’s most vital election law, opening the floodgates for Big Money to drown our airwaves in negative political attack ads.

It’s clear that we can’t stand by any longer. We must take action to protect the voice of Montana voters and our elections.

Our proposed initiative calls for a Montana policy that clearly states corporations aren’t people and that money is not speech. It requires anyone holding an elected or appointed office to prohibit “whenever they can and by all means possible” corporations from making contributions to, or expenditures on, the campaigns of candidates or ballot issues. And it directs Montana’s congressional delegation to propose and work to pass a joint resolution offering an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that abolishes the Citizen’s United decision.

Montanans know firsthand how corporate money corrupts elections.

We saw how the Copper Kings paid their way to dominate our state for decades. We fought back by passing the Corrupt Practices act in 1912.

We applaud and support the efforts of Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock and the Montana Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, to defend this law against the American Traditions lawsuit. We hope this effort will succeed.

Let’s be clear: We do not advocate the trampling of anyone’s personal rights. If corporate executives want to use their own money for campaign ads, they can form political committees and contribute to them just as the people who fund environmental groups or gun rights organizations do.

But CEOs should not have the right to use money from their shareholders and customers to support political campaigns. We say emphatically once again, corporations are not people.

Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, such as the one we propose, can overrule the highest court in the land. When previous Supreme Courts ruled that slavery and poll taxes were legal, Americans responded by passing constitutional amendments. They did so again after the Court struck down voting rights for 18-year-olds. And Montanans used the initiative process in its first ballot election in 1912 to pass a measure calling for a constitutional amendment to provide direct election of U.S. senators.

Our effort is called Stand with Montanans: Corporations Aren’t People – Ban Corporate Campaign Spending. Our challenge is enormous, but winnable. Just like Montanans who fought against corporate control of elections 100 years ago, we now invite you to stand with us in this fight.

Learn more about our effort and join the fight, visit www.StandWithMontanans.org.

Verner Bertelseon of Helena is a former Montana secretary of state. Co-signed by C.B. Pearson, treasurer, Stand With Montanans: Corporations Aren‘t People – Ban Corporate Spending Missoula, MT; and Becky Douglas of Heritage Timber in Potomac.

(12) comments

Analicia
Analicia

Amen brothers and sisters! I stand with you in this historic fight. Thanks for providing a positive means.

Analicia
Analicia

I stand with you in this historic fight; thanks for providing a positive means.

PLG
PLG

Amen!
Note it was the so called conservatives that have supported this issue and the conservative members of the court that made this LAW! Remember to send your "CONSERVATIVE" candidate the message also when you vote them a vacation.

Purple
Purple

Where is the leftist call for a ban on campaign donations from UNIONS?

THE SOUND OF SILENCE is deafening from the left. Interesting isn't it that the left wants their major source of campaign donations left in tact while denying conservatives to have a major source of campaign financing.

Unions rank up there with corporations in political influence.

Where is the call for Sen Baucus to only accept campaign donations from WITHIN the bounderies of Montana. He HAS NOT represented Montana for well over a decade, especially since the percentage of OUTSIDE donations exceeded 80 percent.

catspaw
catspaw

Purp,

This includes your hated Unions in this discussion. Of course you already know this as the SOUNDS OF INTELLIGENCE on your end is deafening.

What is interesting from you is the length you will go to defend the right wing radicals for using corporate money to buy our elections so those elected will turn around and give out tax breaks at our expense. What is also interesting is that you bring Max Baucus into this discussion. Is he even running for election this year? What say to to those thoughts Purple?

BenDoubleCrossed
BenDoubleCrossed

"The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." -Alex Carey, Australian social scientist who pioneered the investigation of corporate propaganda

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms applied only to citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms.

In 1974 Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act which set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

But Congress exempted the corporate media and created the State approved press:
2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper's income... The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few...that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people Shall have in order that they vote...in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes. (E.W. Scripps).

It is normal for all large businesses to make serious efforts to influence the news, to avoid embarrassing publicity, and to maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policies. Now they own most of the news media that they wish to influence. - Excerpt from The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian

"Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it. To illustrate the absurdity of this special exemption the media enjoys, I frequently cite as an example the fact that if the RNC bought NBC from GE the FEC would regulate the evening news and, under the McCain-Feingold "reform" bill, Tom Brokaw could not mention a candidate 60 days before an election. This is patently absurd." – Senator McConnell

The press exemption is a restriction on participation by 99.9999% of the population and grants .0001% of the population immunity from campaign laws. I challenge the broadcast talking heads and print journalists to explain why their audiences should not enjoy the same exemption?

The NRA bought a radio station. But should citizens have to buy a radio station to speak or a newspaper to print their views? To restore equal protection under law the press exemption must be extended to citizens and groups!

Every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add... artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society the farmers, mechanics, and laborers who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. President Andrew Jackson.

Lovell v. City of Griffin SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 303 U.S. 444 Argued February 4, 1938 Decided March 28, 1938

The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion. What we have had recent occasion to say with respect to the vital importance of protecting this essential liberty from every sort of infringement need not be repeated. Near v. Minnesota, supra; Grosjean v. American Press Co., supra; De Jonge v. Oregon, supra.[note 2]

Whatever differences may exist about interpretations of the First Amendment, there is practically universal agreement that a major purpose of that Amendment was to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs. This of course includes discussions of candidates, structures and forms of government, the manner in which government is operated or should be operated, and all such [384 U.S. 214, 219] matters relating to political processes. The Constitution specifically selected the press, which includes not only newspapers, books, and magazines, but also humble leaflets and circulars, see Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 , to play an important role in the discussion of public affairs.

The press exemption magnifies the voice of corporations and muzzle the masses. America has fallen to 47th in press freedom worldwide.

Montana Constituion
Article II – Declaration of Rights

Section 4. Individual dignity. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person, firm, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas.

Section 6. Freedom of assembly. The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, petition for redress or peaceably protest governmental action.

Section 7. Freedom of speech, expression, and press. No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech or expression. Every person shall be free to speak or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty. In all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

BenDoubleCrossed
BenDoubleCrossed

"The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." -Alex Carey, Australian social scientist who pioneered the investigation of corporate propaganda

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms applied only to citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms.

In 1974 Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act which set limits on contributions by individuals, political paries and PACs.

But Congress exempted the corporate media and created the State approved press. 2 USC 431 (9)(B)(i) - The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical pubication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate; ...

A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish intersts of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper's income. The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few... that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people shall have in order that they vote... in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes. (E.W. Scripps).

It is normal for all large businesses to make serious efforts to influence the news, to avoid embarrassing publicity, and to maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policies. Now they own most of the news media that they wish to influence. - Excerpt from The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian

Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it.

The press exemption is a restriction on participation by 99.9999% of the population that grants .0001% of the population immunity from campaign laws. I challenge the broadcast talking heads and print journalists to explain why their audiences should not enjoy the same exemption?

Everyman is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society the farmers, mechanics, and laborers who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. - President Andrew Jackson

Lovell v. City of Griffin SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 303 U.S. 4444 Argued February 4, 1938 Decided March 28, 1938

The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been hitoric weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our hown history abundantly attest. The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion. What we have had recent occassion to say with respect to the vital importance of protecting this essential liberty from every sort of infringement need not be repeated. Near V. Minnesota, supra; Grosjean v. American Press Co., supra; De Jonge v. Oregon, Supra. [note 2]

Whatever differences may exist about interpretations of the First Amendment, there is practically universal agreement that a major purpose of that Amendment was to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs. This of course includes discussions of candidates, structures and forms of government, the manner in which government is operated or should be operated, and all such [384 U.S. 214, 219] matters relating to political processes. The Constitution specifically selected the press, which includes not only newspapers, books and magazines, but also humble leaflets and circulars, see Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, to play an important role in the discussion of public affairs.

The press exemption magnifies the voice of corporations and muzzles the voice of the masses. America has fallen to 47th in press freedom worldwide.

Montana Constitution
Article II - Declaration of Rights

Section 4. Individual dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person, fimr, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas.

Section 6. Freedom of assembly. The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, petition for redress or peaceably protest governmental action.

Section 7. Freedom of speech, expression, and press. No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech or expression. Every person shall be free to speak or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty. In all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

LegAdv
LegAdv

Mr. Bertelseon, this proposed statutory initiative, if passed, will invite yet, another round of multiple constitutional challenges that the Montana taxpayers can ill-afford to defend against, given the likelihood of the U.S. Supreme Court granting certiorari in the American Tradition Partnership case and reversing the Montana Supreme Court's decision in that case. In addition, unless CI-109 also qualifies for the November 2012 ballot and passes, the Montana Legislature may amend or repeal your statutory initiative. At the present time, there are at least four Joint Resolutions that have been introduced in Congress to respond to the Citizens United v. FEC decision and these resolutions appear to address most, if not all, of your concerns (H.J.Res. 8; H.J.Res. 86; S.J.Res. 29; and S.J.Res. 35). Your organization might want to consider lending its support to one or more of these resolutions and to allow the judicial process to play out in the American Tradition Partnership case, as the continued pursuit of your proposed initiative at this point will likely be nothing more than an exercise in futility.

a2phil
a2phil

I hope this goes NATIONWIDE by November 2013!!!

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Corporations are neither persons nor citizens.

Labor unions are neither persons nor citizens.

Fetuses are neither persons nor citizens.

Dogs, cats, horses and monkeys are neither persons nor citizens.

Constitutional rights belong only to persons and citizens.

Any questions?

Motorchild
Motorchild

Here's an easy way to deal with the mess: don't vote for anyone who they themselves or their political committee received even a cent of corporate money.

If those politicians were worth anything to us to begin with, would they need all that money to get our votes??

catspaw
catspaw


Curmudgeon said on: March 22, 2012, 12:57 pm

Corporations are neither persons nor citizens.

Labor unions are neither persons nor citizens.

Fetuses are neither persons nor citizens.

Dogs, cats, horses and monkeys are neither persons nor citizens.

Constitutional rights belong only to persons and citizens.

Any questions?

This is the best commentary I have seen in months.

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