Following last year's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, money from large corporations poured onto airwaves and into print across the country trying to influence elections. The ruling allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections. The court determined that corporations were people and thus deserved the same free speech rights. Sen. Bernie Sanders calls it "an absolute disaster." To discuss this issue further, Sanders will hold a public forum at 2 p.m. Saturday in Montpelier and will welcome nationally-syndicated radio host Thom Hartmann, an expert on the issue of corporate personhood. Sanders has also invited the president of Public Citizen, a Vermont Law professor, and Vt. state Sen. Ginny Lyons who has sponsored a resolution urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not persons. "The reason we're holding this meeting is because this issue of 'Citizens United' has huge consequences in many areas. Certainly in terms of our democracy and the funding of elections. Let's be clear: campaign financing for many years has been a disaster in this country in the sense that candidates have had to run out to rich people in order to get the money they need to run campaigns. With Citizens United it has taken a giant step in the wrong direction.
"What it means now is that a handful of corporations and billionaires can sit in a room and determine where millions and millions of dollars are going to go in terms of advertising for campaigns. They can punish people who have stood up to them. They can support those people who are prepared to work with them on their corporate agenda. And they can do this in secret, without any disclosure whatsoever. In this next election, I can tell you that there will be an unprecedented amount of money coming into campaigns all across this country from the very richest people in this country. It is an absolute disaster."
For more details about the event, click here.
To hear Sen. Sanders discuss this on the Thom Hartman Program, click here.
To watch an excellent video explaining the impact of the case, click here.
To read an op-ed by Robert Weissman of Public Citizen on this issue, click here.