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By Matthew Flyr, U.S. PIRG Democracy Intern
Two state legislators have introduced a legislative resolution that, when passed, will bring a question to the 2014 ballot on overturning Citizens United and eliminating big money in elections.
The Money Out, Voters In coalition (a collection of 32 groups, including WISPIRG, United Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Move to Amend, and the Wisconsin Business Alliance) joined with State Representative Chris Taylor and State Senator Dave Hansen to introduce the landmark legislation. The resolution was introduced with the bipartisan support of 35 legislators and vast public support (the bill introduction is pictured below). In Wisconsin, voter initiatives must first be approved by the legislature before they are allowed on the ballot.
The Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts on campaigns. In the 2010 and 2012 elections, we saw the consequences of this decision, with corporate and large spending far surpassing donations by average citizens. In the 2012 presidential election, for example, the top 32 Super PAC donors—giving an average of $9.9 million each—matched the $313 million that President Obama and Mitt Romney raised from all of their small donors combined.
Voters across the nation have decided that the time has come to take their elections back. Similar resolutions or referendums to overturn Citizens United have passed in 16 states as well as in 500 local governments. Voters in Wisconsin have shown the same desire to reclaim their democracy, with more than 20,000 already signing the petition in support of the resolution.
More than 75 activists who had helped to gather those signatures attended the press event to introduce the resolution at the state Capitol (pictured above). The coalition, along with legislative leaders, is planning a continued grassroots push to pass the resolution before the end of the legislative session in March.
WISPIRG is building a grassroots momentum to let the people decide whether a democracy drenched with special interest - and often dark - money is the democracy they want in Wisconsin.
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