Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A citizen's response to Citizens United: Send this Letter now

Friends, as you know I am not a fan of the SCOTUS and their recent Citizens United decision. So today I ran across a post on Barry Sussman's blog at Neiman Watchdog that got me thinking . . . which then got me writing my Congressman, and both Senators. I've pasted the text of my letter below, and I urge you to take that text add to it, and send it in to your own Congressional delegation. If enough of us do so, we may just see some change.

Mr. {Congressman Name HERE},

I am writing to ask you to introduce legislation in this Congress to answer the recent Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. As you are no doubt aware, the SCOTUS handed down a ruling that removed decades of prior precedent, and now allows corporations (as legal "persons") to engage in political speech.

As it stands now, corporations will be able to engage in all sorts of political advertising and "speech" at economies of scale that will give them an unfair advantage in the political arena when compared to average citizens. To address this issue, I am asking you to draft and introduce legislation that meets the outline proposed by Barry Sussman ( in his recent blog:

“Because the Court ruled that a corporation’s free speech is so important in being able to present its position, we need legislation to make sure that such expenditures do represent the views of the board of directors by requiring a public vote of the board on any such expenditures. It will be hard for the Republicans to oppose such legislation, although they will. But that should be part of a concerted effort to show how the Republicans are for the rich and powerful and why they are opposing every reform that is brought before Congress.

“Boards are supposed to represent the interests of the shareholders, not just management. If they oppose the provision, it’s clear whom they represent. I would also focus on the intellectual bankruptcy of the Court’s decision. For example, Antonin Scalia divined the founding fathers’ original intent as protecting corporate free speech, even though they didn’t have modern corporations in those days and Jefferson warned against such concentrations of power.”

This legislation need not be complicated - the general outline is presented above. By adding this to the federal regulations governing corporate existence and practice, you and your colleagues can ensure that American Corporations are held to a high standard of conduct in the corporate arena.

Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation.

Philip L. H


jg said...

This will be interesting for me. I agree with you and am interested in this decision. Four years ago I was a significant part of a grassroots campaign to replace the majority of our local water board over a failed Enron project to convert a lake and nearby canyon into a pumped storage energy facility. Ignoring the environmental and NIMBY issues, the numbers were wrong in that it would lose $124 million a year (FERC's analysis) and only return 80% of the energy it stored. The only winners would be the investors who would be guaranteed a 14.5% return on investment out of rate payer's transmission access fees and the private corporation that (or should I say "who") was using this to build and own a portion of the transmission grid. Our grassroots campaign got stomped on (out spent 3 to 1) by this private corporation's saturation bombing with slander ads (ironically, this corporation had no form of income other than their ongoing, expenses-paid contract with the water board). Their money was laundered through a "tax payers protection group" whose name was on the ads.

Corporations have the means of funding political speach as is, but the interesting part for me is that the house representative I get to write is the strongest proponent of the project and assisted the candidate who benefitted from the slander campaign.

I was most eager for refrom before the recent Court decision; all the more now.

Philip H. said...

Yours is, sadly, a prime example of the lop-sidded playing field already. SCOTUS didn't need to rule as they did - you point out exactly why.