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Ellison: Get Money Out of Politics

The Minnesota representative said lessons can be learned from the Wisconsin recall election.

Editor's Note: The following was written by Rep. Keith Ellison and first appeared on the Huffington Post, which is a partner of Patch.com.

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kept his job, but with a high price tag. In a state of only six million people, $60 million was poured into the race, $50 million of which went to Governor Walker. And almost half of that was spent by outside groups -- most of them not based in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was not an isolated event. Since 2010, Super PACs and corporations have spent record amounts of money in elections nationwide. Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 millionfour times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.

Most of this spending would not have been possible without the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision. Before Citizens United, individuals could not contribute more than $10,000 to Wisconsin candidates and political committees (PACs) -- corporate entities or groups of people that contribute to political campaigns. But this all changed when the Supreme Court allowed anyone to spend an unlimited amount on PACs and let corporations and wealthy individuals spend unlimited money on political campaign advertisements. Due to a loophole in state law, Walker could also raiseunlimited amounts from individual donors while his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, had a limiton the dollar amount of contributions.

So how do progressives move forward? The Wisconsin election shows that we will not have a government of, by and for the people as long as we have politicians who are bought and paid for by special interests. Powerful corporations and wealthy donors spent millions on the Wisconsin race because they benefit most from the system: tax loopholes for corporations, tax handouts for the rich, while America's heroes -- cops, firefighters, and teachers -- pay the tab.

We need to put power back in the hands of the people. That's why this week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which I Co-Chair with Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, is partnering with local governments across the country for Resolutions Week, a nationwide effort to get money out of politics. Throughout the week, local leaders will introduce resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I am proud to announce that in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the City Council will adopt its own resolution on Friday, June 15.

We are not the only ones -- more than 100 state and local governments have already introduced similar resolutions. In March, the Alaska Senate passed an amendment proposing that Congress and the president pass a constitutional amendment to stop limitless independent expenditures to influence elections, and the California State Assembly passed a similar resolution. Montana is acting to overturn Citizens United with a petition on their ballot in November.

Several members of Congress have introduced constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United. While protecting the freedom of the press, my own Get Corporate Money out of Politics Amendment clearly states that corporations are not people. They do not vote, they do not serve in office and they should not be able to buy our elections.

If we learned anything from Wisconsin, it's that money should not be able to drown out the voice of the people. But by working together, we can restore a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Follow Rep. Keith Ellison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/keithellison

Ivar H Awes June 13, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Ivar H Awes: ........ ."provided that a registered individual voter resident in and of the involved state,co signs and delivers the "contribution" Out of state gifts?
Chris Fields June 13, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Please read my response to this post here. Keith Ellison is trying the some old tactics of distraction and division. Let's take a look at what Keith actually does vs. what he says. http://fridley.patch.com/blog_posts/inside-the-million-dollar-keith-ellison-money-machine
David July 17, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Ellison is a hack. And like all good dictators he wants to control what the people hear and see. This is nothing new as Progressives like Ellison are nothing but statists like their political cousins the Socialists and Fascists. They, too, want to limit who can speak and where and when. As for the comment about corporations not being flesh and blood, tell that the thousands of people who make up a corporation. Somehow to a progressive faceless, for-profit organizations that advocate against their goals are evil, but faceless, for-profit organizations that support them are Vox Populi.
David July 17, 2012 at 07:03 AM
Kay thinks it's reprehensible that our laws are "determined by whichever party and/or candidate raises the most money" yet how is this any different than being made by the party that gets the most votes? Short answer, it isn't. This fantasy that there is 'too much money in politics' rests and false assumptions that should be insulting to us all. First, that we are all so stupid and gullible that bright, shiny things can make us pull a lever. I believe we all vote based on what we see as our best interests and sometimes those are mercenary, but that is the human condition. Second, that people don't have the right to use their own resources to promote their political beliefs. More is spent advertising antacids in a year than is spent in a presidential election. No one sees Pepto Bismol as evil using its resources to get us to buy their product. Yet, somehow, using our resources to persuade people about the most crucial decisions we make as citizens is beyond the pale. It is a variant on the Socialist concept that everyone must be forced to be 'equal' and that means equally poor. It's the same here. The DFL has a platform plank that says all Federal candidates should be required to take ONLY public funding. If oligarchs like Ellison get their way, we will have only the right he says we have when he is feeling generous. Thank God, he’s doesn’t represent me.
Jim Bendtsen July 22, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Ellison is quite simply, a LIAR. The UNIONS SPENT OVER 20 MILLION IN WISCONSIN and got their asses kicked even worse this time around, which means even more union workers voted for Scott Walker and his sensible policies. Ellison is an embarrassment, even to the ridiculous voters in the 5th district.

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