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MA Legislators: “We the People” - Not We the Corporations

June 22, 2010

BOSTON - The U.S. Constitution begins: "We the people" - and a group of lawmakers in Massachusetts would like to keep it that way. In response to the Supreme Court ruling in January that now allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money for political ads, Massachusetts state Senator Jamie Eldridge, along with other lawmakers, filed legislation which would require transparency. He says if the current law is left unchallenged, corporate lobbyists and special interest groups will be allowed to dominate the electoral process.

"Any day now, corporations could spend literally millions of dollars on a federal election, a state election, a local election, and really alter negatively the quality of our democracy and what kind of public policy gets passed."

The legislation filed Monday would require new levels of disclosure and transparency for corporate political spending and prohibit foreign corporations from influencing elections in Massachusetts. State Representatives Cory Atkins and William Straus also backed the legislation.

Eldridge acknowledges that to really change the law, a national constitutional amendment is needed. However, if this legislation passes in Massachusetts, he says, at least the public would be kept in the loop in terms of who is paying for which ads.

"Let's have disclosure. Let's make sure that if a corporation decides to spend money in Massachusetts, that that information is publicly disclosed to the state political campaign finance agency."

The majority in the Supreme Court have made statements in support of the law, viewing corporate spending as an issue of the First Amendment - the right to free speech.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA