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Dem lawmakers call for end to outsized corporate influence on Democracy

Support constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate personhood, end dark money campaigns
September 14, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid), Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and state Sen. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) joined local advocates and elected officials today in South Euclid, Ohio to highlight pending legislation that calls for amending the U.S. Constitution and eliminate First Amendment protections for corporate personhood, abolishing the notion that money is equated to speech. The lawmakers are introducing a statewide resolution in the Ohio legislature to support the proposed federal amendment.

“It goes without saying that when the founding fathers wrote the First Amendment they were concerned with the rights of John Doe the individual, not John Doe’s private investment company,” said Smith. “When money is considered speech, those who have the most money have the most speech. This contradicts the basic cornerstone philosophy of American democracy of one person, one vote.”

The lawmakers are joining the national pushback against Citizens United to amend the U.S. Constitution and abolish corporate personhood and the legal doctrine of unlimited, undisclosed money being equated with political speech. According to Move To Amend Ohio affiliates, 17 states and over 600 municipalities in the United States, including 20 in Ohio, have already approved resolutions or voted for ballot initiatives calling for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to affirm only human beings have constitutional rights while defining money as property, not speech.

“Our democracy has been pushed out of balance by allowing a very small group of extremely wealthy individuals to essentially take control of our political system to speak for the general public,” said Antonio. “Our country was founded on a government created of the people, by the people, for the people. It’s time to make the people’s voice just as strong and forceful as private corporations in the election process.”

The Brennan Center for Justice found that campaign spending for the 2014 Senate races more than doubled since the campaign-finance rule change in 2010. Additionally, outside groups surpassed candidate’s spending by funding 47 percent of the Senate campaigns, compared to 41 percent funded by the candidates themselves. 

“The Citizens United decision has created an unprecedented role of money in politics and has established an alarming imbalance in the playing field for ordinary citizens to participate in the political process,” said Sen. Skindell, a primary sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate. “Our proposed resolution can help reverse this dangerous political path that has been paved with unlimited, unaccountable corporate campaign cash.”

South Euclid and Lakewood City Council have already passed a resolution in support of the Move To Amend amendment and the city has collected enough signatures to place the local supportive amendment on the November 2016 ballot.