As a voter in the State of Washington, I enjoy the people-watching aspects of politics. I occasionally make a $25 campaign contribution to support a candidate who I like in some way and would like to see succeed. Unfortunately, since the U.S. Supreme Court decision called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, my occasional $25 campaign contribution is drowned out by the noise of significantly larger donations. Citizens United says that corporations and other legal entities have a First Amendment right to spend virtually limitless amounts of money from their treasuries on political campaigns and contributions to political super PACs, so long as they do not coordinate spending with a candidate. The decision rendered ineffective most of the existing campaign finance reform laws. Because of the dizzying array of exceptions that exist for funneling political money through super PACs, 501(c) and 527 political organizations, big corporations and unions could circumvent much of the remaining legislation.
The effect of Citizens United and other U.S. Supreme Court decisions is that the United States has become an oligarchy — a small group of people owning most or all of the candidates for elected offices. This means the oligarchy wins political power, without regard to which party or candidate is in power, because the oligarchy owns them all.
The only way I know to reverse this trend is through a constitutional amendment that requires a super majority — two-thirds in Congress and of three-fourths of the States. That’s why I support the statewide Initiative 735 to get big money out of elections. It is one step in the constitutional amendment process and will tell our Washington state congressional delegation, including our two U.S. senators, that we want them to pass a constitutional amendment that says constitutional rights belong to individuals, not corporations. Furthermore, this constitutional amendment should make clear that spending unlimited, unregulated campaign money is not a First Amendment free-speech right. Therefore, our elected representatives can return to legislating meaningful campaign finance-reform laws that prevent undue influence and require immediate public disclosure.
Initiative 735 is an initiative to the Washington State Legislature, and as such, gives our elected representatives a chance to pass it in the 2016 Washington State Legislative session. But if the legislature fails to approve this initiative, then I-735 automatically becomes “an initiative to the people” and will appear on the ballot in November of 2016. Passing this initiative will state in a public way that we want to overturn Citizens United via a constitutional amendment and allow us to join 16 other states that have already done so.