The Saratoga Sun -

Letter to the Editor

Group looks to limit campaign spending

 


Wyoming Promise volunteers are collecting signatures across the state for a bipartisan citizens’ initiative to restore free and fair elections.

Wyoming Promise is a citizens’ grassroots effort to get big money out of politics by calling on Congress to pass a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is working with several national organizations, including American Promise, which are coordinating similar efforts in many states, but Wyoming Promise is an independent group comprised solely of Wyoming residents.

“The Wyoming Constitution guarantees equal rights to ‘members of the human race,’” says retired U.S. Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming. “Corporations are not people, and therefore should not have any right to spend an unlimited glut of money to influence our elections. We must get this dark money out of our political system by amending our Constitution.”

The goal of the amendment is to roll back Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act on the basis that corporations are people and money is speech. This ruling opened the floodgates for unlimited dark money from corporations, unions, and super-PACs to flow into politics. The non-partisan group Center for Responsive Politics estimates that a record $1.4 billion was spent by dark money groups during the 2016 national election cycle. (The Center’s estimate is based upon FEC filings which do not track spending in local and state races, so the total amount spent nationwide is certainly much higher than $1.4 billion.)

So far, 19 states have called on Congress to propose a 28th Amendment to overturn that case, in order to pave the way for meaningful legislation to get unaccountable money out of politics. Wyoming Promise hopes to make Wyoming the 20th state to do so.

By gathering signatures statewide, Wyoming Promise hopes to place a citizens’ initiative on the November 2018 ballot so Wyoming voters can step up and call for the 28th Amendment. In May, the Wyoming Secretary of State verified that the group had sufficient support to begin this statewide petition drive.

For the initiative to appear on the November, 2018 ballot, sponsors of the measure must gather 38,818 valid signatures from registered Wyoming voters before February, 2018. The signatures must be collected from at least 16 of Wyoming’s 23 counties.

“This is going to take a major statewide effort,” says Ken Chestek, chair of Wyoming Promise. “We have already contacted many people all over the state who want this amendment, and many volunteers around the state are already circulating petitions. We hope to establish working groups in every county of the state within the next few weeks.”

According to nationwide polls, 8 out of 10 Americans on all sides of politics agree that our political system is out of control. A large majority of citizens from all political parties and independent voters believe this is a real threat to our democracy and ultimately to the future of our nation.

In 2012, voters in both Montana and Colorado approved ballot measures calling for the 28th Amendment. In both states, 75% of the voters approved of the measure. Nevada recently became the 19th state to call for the 28th Amendment, by a vote of the Nevada legislature.

Wyoming Promise believes campaign finance reform is the only way to restore fairness in our government and to put the rights of the people first, where they belong. To learn more or to sign up as a volunteer, please visit http://www.wyomingpromise.org.

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