Campaign finance issue gains spot on Kane ballot
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org September 24, 2012 6:16PM
The following referendum question will be on the Nov. 6 ballot in Kane County:
Should the United States Constitution be amended to limit the use of corporate, special interest and private money in any political activity, including influencing the election of any candidate for public office.
Updated: October 26, 2012 6:02AM
The efforts of about 50 concerned citizens who collected more than 14,000 signatures have resulted in an advisory measure on campaign finances being placed on the November ballot in Kane County.
The referendum asks voters if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to limit the use of corporate, special interest and private money in any political activity, including influencing the election of any candidate for public office.
According to Kaye Gamble of Sleepy Hollow, the volunteers needed to collect at least 12,000 signatures to get the matter before local voters, and wound up gathering 14,386 signatures, with petitions turned in last month.
Gamble said she came to the initiative through her involvement with Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice.
Move to Amend
The local effort is part of the broader Move to Amend, a nationwide group that came about after the January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have rights akin to those of people, including free speech.
This has given way to the present political environment in which seemingly endless streams of money are flooding into races, with this election cycle shaping up to be the most expensive ever.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the race for the White House will cost about $2.5 billion counting money from the candidates’ campaign war chests, Democratic and Republican party committees and outside spending groups. Another $3.3 billion or so is expected to be spent across the nation on races for Congress and the U.S. Senate.
Thus, Move to Amend is seeking support for a constitutional amendment, which in part states, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.” The amendment also would call for federal, state and local government to “regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures” and “require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.”
A check of the organization’s website shows that there are eight Move to Amend groups listed in Illinois, five of them in the Chicago metro area.
The next steps
Gamble said if advisory measures of the sort posited in Kane County can be passed in about half the state, activists will ask state legislators to take action.
Amending the U.S. Constitution is a complicated process, however.
In the typical route, the proposed amendment would have to pass both the U.S. House and Senate by a two-thirds majority in each. From there it would go to the states to be ratified, needing approval by at least three-fourths of the states.
Gamble claims Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberals and even tea party supporters signed the petition sheets seeking the referendum.
“This is not a Democratic or Progressive issue but a nonpartisan matter,” Gamble said, noting such prominent Republicans as John Huntsman and John McCain have spoken out against the Citizens United ruling.
Still, while Move to Amend says the cause is nonpartisan, from what is listed on its own website it appears support thus far overwhelmingly is coming from left, progressive or Democratic-leaning groups, including some Occupy, Green Party and Sierra Club chapters.
Additional information about the resolution can be had by contacting Gamble at email@example.com or through the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area website, www.lwvelginarea.org.