Activists with a coalition of groups will lobby Wisconsin lawmakers on the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United decision under the banner "Money Out, Voters In — Wisconsin." The action will take place on Jan. 21 at the state Capitol in Madison.
In Citizens United vs. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations, unions and other associations could give unlimited amounts of money to try to elect candidates of their choice so long as they don’t coordinate their activities with their chosen candidates.
“The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, opened the floodgates, and our democracy is drowning,” Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said in a news release issued this week. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen the consequences, as the Koch Brothers and Gogebic Taconite, and the school privatizers are throwing their weight around as never before.”
Peter Skopec of WISPIRG added, “Five years after Citizens United, big money is speaking louder than ever before — but the good news is that our leaders can take immediate steps to reduce its influence and empower ordinary voters. State lawmakers should lower, not increase campaign contribution limits, and make coordination between outside groups and candidates explicitly illegal. They should empower small donors by matching small contributions with limited public funds. And they should maintain the Government Accountability Board's independent oversight powers, rather than take us back to the days of ineffective, partisan-appointed monitoring that failed Wisconsin in the past.”
The lobby day will begin with a press conference at the Capitol and coincide with the introduction of state Assemblywoman Lisa Subek's bill to place an advisory referendum on the November 2016 ballot asking whether Wisconsin’s congressional delegation should support, and the Wisconsin Legislature should ratify, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would state: “1. Only human beings — not corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations, or similar associations—are endowed with constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to restricting political speech.”
Subek planned to attend the press conference.
The coalition's membership includes the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, WISPIRG, People For the American Way, United Wisconsin, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Center for Media and Democracy, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, Citizen Action Wisconsin, AFT- Wisconsin, National Association of Social Workers – Wisconsin Chapter, United Council of UW Students, Midwest Environmental Advocates, 9 to 5, Madison Teachers Inc., Move to Amend of Southeast Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley Move to Amend, Move to Amend Rock River, Lake Mills Move to Amend, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens, Wisconsin Grassroots Network, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Madison MoveOn, Peace Action Wisconsin, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Door County Environmental Council, SouthWest Wisconsin Area Progressives, One Wisconsin Now, Progressive Dane, South Central Federation of Labor, Teaching Assistants’ Association and Wisconsin Wave.