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Signatures in support of the 'People Govern, Not Money' ballot initiative were delivered Tuesday to the office of Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin. Photo courtesy American Promise

‘People Govern, Not Money’ initiative qualifies for 2018 ballot

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By Thursday, Jul 5, 2018 News 5

Volunteer-led ‘People Govern, Not Money’ initiative qualifies for 2018 Mass. ballot

Boston — On Tuesday (July 3), Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin received more than 20,000 certified signatures for the “People Govern, Not Money” initiative petition, putting the initiative on track to appear on the 2018 ballot. The initiative asks voters to establish a nonpartisan Citizens Commission to advance the writing of a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to address the undue influence of concentrated money on elections and government policy. The constitutional amendment would overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and other campaign finance laws under a theory that corporations, unions and the wealthy have a free speech right to spend unlimited money to influence elections and that corporations have the same inalienable rights as human beings. The petition clarifies that, “inalienable Constitutional rights are the rights of individual living human beings and not of artificial entities or aggregations of people..”

Supporters of the ‘People Govern, Not Money’ ballot initiative. Photo courtesy American Promise

American Promise, the group responsible for creating the petition, is a national, nonprofit grassroots organization which advocates for the 28thamendment to the U.S. constitution to overturn Citizen’s United employing a 50-state strategy to lobby members of Congress and the public on both sides of the aisle. Last month, American Promise hosted the National Leadership Conference in Washington DC with speakers like Bill Moyers and Nina Turner from Our Revolution to engage young voters, political candidates, and members of congress into a discussion about how to achieve campaign finance reform.

In 2012 and again in 2014, the Massachusetts Legislature passed cross-partisan resolutions supporting the writing of a 28th Amendment and calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the amendment and send it to the states for ratification. More than 150 cities and towns in Massachusetts have likewise passed such resolutions. Versions of the 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United have more than 40 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and 150 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The “People Govern, Not Money” initiative will create the first-in-the-nation nonpartisan 15-member Citizens Commission, which will research, take testimony, provide reports and make recommendations to assist in the drafting, promoting, proposing and ratifying of a 28th Amendment. The Citizens Commission will provide accurate information about the influence of money in Massachusetts politics, recommend language for a constitutional amendment and prepare Massachusetts to ratify the amendment when it is passed by Congress. By utilizing volunteers to serve on the Citizens Commission, there will be no cost to taxpayers.

Nineteen states and over 800 cities and towns have passed 28th Amendment resolutions with cross-partisan support. In Montana and Colorado, voters have approved 28th Amendment ballot initiatives by 75–25 percent.

Volunteer-led signature gathering efforts are also underway in Wyoming to place an initiative calling for the 28th Amendment on the 2018 ballot in 2018.

There are two ways to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and by design, Article V of the Constitution makes the process as long and arduous as possible. An amendment may be proposed to Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a Constitution Convention which must be called for by two-thirds of state legislatures. Interestingly, the president is not given a constitutional role in the amendment process.

The call for the 28thamendment comes as the Koch Brother’s announce their plans to spend $400 million dollars on the midterms election while a recent survey by the University of Maryland shows that 49 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of all voters believe that “reducing the influence of big campaign donors” is “very important.”

Despite strong support from the public, the road ahead for advocates of campaign finance reform has already proven to be riddled with obstacles, perhaps proving the thesis of American Promise: that money influences politics more than public opinion. If the People Govern, Not Money Petition appears on the ballot this year, it will ask voters to establish a non-partisan Citizens Commission to advance the 28th Amendment to curtail unlimited spending in U.S. elections. For a law to be passed, the petition will need at least 30 percent of the ballots cast to vote the affirmative as well as the majority of ballots cast on that question.

The midterm elections are nearly five months away, and a record number of people, and the highest number of women are running for Congress and spending on House and Senate races is projected to reach $800 million dollars. The volunteers, activists, and community leaders behind The People Govern, Not Money petition envision a different way of running elections with a fraction of the money spent, but first, people have to vote for it.

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5 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Steve Farina says:

    This sounds like a worthwhile endeavor, Victor. I am curious though… you bring up the Koch bros, is George Soros sitting out the mid-terms? What was all that about the “cross-partisan” thing….
    C’mon man

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    …and not a mention of the $$$$$$$$$$$ that the many UNIONS donate to the Democrats… Last time it was checked about 98% went to Democrats…

  3. Jim Balfanz says:

    Time to celebrate –
    If you can’t be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape.
    Today is Nacho Day #515 – 515 days that Hillary is nacho president.

  4. Richard Allen says:

    The proponents of this sort of restriction on speech always ignore the part of the First Amendment that protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” If you believe that it’s wrong to restrict political advocacy by an individual, how can you believe it’s okay to restrict political advocacy by a group?

    1. Sherry says:

      Richard, to answer your question you may be interested in a challenging, but worthwhile, article in the “Harvard Law & Policy Review.” http://harvardlpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/5.1_7_Youn.pdf Here’s an excerpt that gives an overview:

      The Citizens United majority opinion posits a radically simplistic vision of the First Amendment as applied to money in politics. In the Court’s view, all speech commodities are of equivalent First Amendment value—whether they represent the political conviction of an individual or the profit-maximizing impetus of a business corporation. Thus, a court need not grapple with difficult questions of relative First Amendment value—the quality of the speech at issue. Instead, the court’s only determination is a mechanical assessment of quantity. The majority’s reasoning takes the following form:
      1. Political speech is a First Amendment good.
      2. Therefore, more speech is better than less speech.
      3. Therefore, any law restricting speech is a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

      Money enters into the equation only as it pertains to speech quantity:

      1. Money, in the form of political spending, can lead to the creation of speech.

      Therefore, more money results in more speech.

      Therefore, any law restricting political spending is a prima facie vio-

      lation of the First Amendment.

      Under this source-blind vision, whether a campaign advertisement is funded by an individual, a group of individuals, or a corporation makes no differ- ence to the First Amendment value of such an advertisement—each such advertisement is a presumptively equal input into the marketplace of politi- cal ideas. Indeed, for the state to distinguish among such advertisements based on source is to engage in impermissible discrimination.

      One can readily understand the surface appeal of such a source-blind approach—it holds out the illusion of neutrality to judges to whom inquiries into First Amendment value seem uncomfortably close to content- or even viewpoint-based discrimination. But the source-blind approach is highly troubling because its veneer of neutrality conceals a deeper and more funda- mental inequality. As the Supreme Court remarked in Buckley, “[s]ometimes the grossest discrimination can lie in treating things that are different as though they were exactly alike.”90 Just as there would be noth- ing neutral about a race event that pitted a human runner against a race car, there is nothing neutral about a free market of ideas that requires individuals to outspend corporate treasuries in order to make their ideas available to the electorate.

      The difference between individual and corporate election spending does not merely inhere in the aggregate amounts of money available to each—nor even in the relative advantages each enjoys in terms of the ability to amass and spend capital. Instead the difference inheres most fundamentally, and irreducibly, in the First Amendment value of the political spending of each. The volitional approach taken by the Buckley Court and by subsequent generations of courts was one effort to account for quality as well as quantity in confronting the vexed question of First Amendment value. Grappling with this question, as this Article has tracked, embroiled the Court in fine distinc- tions and in doctrinal quandaries. But to abandon the question of First Amendment value is no solution—it is to put our politics and our constitutional values on the auction block.

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