Speaker Favors Amendment To End "Dark Money" Campaigns

May 8, 2018

Credit Wikimedia Commons Jericho

A coordinator is coming to Rhinelander Saturday to talk about an effort to pass a constitutional clarification to change campaign finance.

In a landmark 2010 ruling, the United States Supreme Court held that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations. It opened the floodgates of cash into campaigns, mostly behind secretive doors. It's known as the Citizens United ruling.

Wisconsin United To Amend's George Penn of says momentum is building to amend the constitution to change the ruling... 

"...United To Amend was an organization started in 2010 with the express goal of getting a constitutional amendment that says two things: a corporation is not a person and money is not speech...."

Penn says the ruling changed America, and in his view, for the worse.... 

".....Today, I personally believe and many also do, that we don't have a democracy. What we have is a system where big money pays for the campaigns and is then able to write the laws that are passed. Those laws are written for them, and not for us...."

Penn says they would like to clarify that only individuals are protected by the Constitution and not corporations and the spending of money is not free speech. Penn says the issue is bipartisan as members of both major political parties have signed onto the effort.

Penn says more than 775 communities across the U.S. have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, including 130 governments in Wisconsin and 19 state legislatures.

Penn will speak Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the Oneida County Senior Center next to the Trig's shopping center in downtown Rhinelander.