Advocates, Legislators Advocate for Reducing Corporate Money in Politics


ANNAPOLIS—Activists and Maryland lawmakers rallied in front of the state capitol Thursday to oppose the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and advocate for ways to pull corporate money out of campaign finance.

In its controversial Citizens United decision in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of granting corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts from their treasury funds to promote political candidates through independent television ads and political action committees.

Thursday’s “Rally to Fight Secret Spending in Our Democracy” drew about 60 people to Lawyer’s Mall in support of several legislative measures that would decrease the power of Super PACs and special interest groups, increase the influence of individual citizen donations, and foster more openness around campaign spending.

Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, led the rally, which included remarks by several state and federal legislators.

“The Supreme Court has now threatened to create government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations,” Raskin said.

One of the measures, The Grassroots Democracy Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., would increase the power of grassroots political campaigns through refundable tax credits and matching of donations.

“I call these Super PACs sometimes, super drones,” Sarbanes said at the rally. “You’re a candidate and you’re walking down the street, you hear a buzzing behind you, and the next thing you know a half-million dollars had been dropped on your head, and here’s the thing, you don’t know who’s operating that drone. Because there’s no disclosure, there’s no transparency. You don’t know where the money’s coming from.”

Raskin also presented a letter addressed to the U.S. Congress that demanded a constitutional amendment reversing the Citizens United decision. The letter was written last year and has now been signed by more than half of Maryland’s state senators and delegates, Raskin said. He said the letter was to be presented to Congress on Thursday.

To personify the rally’s message that corporations are not people, several activists dressed up as “corporate people” and took part in a guerilla-style performance mocking the idea that corporations have constitutional rights.

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