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Montana Advocates of Fair Elections Mobilize Against "Dark Money"

Clean-elections advocates meet in Missoula on Thursday to promote an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.(cohdra/morguefile)
Clean-elections advocates meet in Missoula on Thursday to promote an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.(cohdra/morguefile)
June 22, 2016

MISSOULA, Mont. -- Advocates for clean elections are gathering in Missoula Thursday night to strategize on how to get big money out of politics as part of a campaign promoting a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment would declare that corporations are not people and therefore their campaign contributions cannot be considered protected speech. Such an amendment would undo the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision.

Jeff Clements, president the group American Promise said that since that decision, more than $30 billion in untraceable funds - so-called "dark money" - has poured into American elections.

"Most of the money comes literally from a few hundred families and the largest corporations," said Clements. "And you know, if we saw that in another country, we'd say, 'It's obvious what it is - it's an oligarchy. It's not democracy.'"

Amending the U.S. Constitution would require that two-thirds of state legislatures pass resolutions supporting the move. The meeting will be held Thursday evening at the University of Montana Law School.

Retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson said that Citizens United has already been used to nullify most of Montana's Corrupt Practices Act which passed in 2012. It made the last race for the Montana Supreme Court the costliest in state history, he said.

"In fact, the 2014 election cycle, it was the most expensive race, period, for any statewide office," said Nelson. "There was about $1.6 million poured into that race."

The coalition advocating for the amendment includes Common Cause, MontPIRG, Move to Amend, the Montana Trial Lawyers Association and Stand With Montanans.

For more information on this meeting, visit standwithmontanans.org

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT