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WA "Citizens Unite" for Protest Rally

January 20, 2011

KENT, Wash. - This week in Washington state and elsewhere around the country, citizens will unite to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, made one year ago. It gives corporations the same standing as individuals in backing political candidates and donating to campaigns.

At a Friday rally in Kent, some Washington voters will lend their voices to a growing movement to overturn that decision by amending the U.S. Constitution. Organizer Brian Gunn says the "Citizens United" decision has equated money with free speech, paving the way for greater corporate influence on elections.

"The amount of money corporations invest to influence an election or to make sure they get a senator or representative elected, or even get a state initiative passed - the payback is much more than they would get if the taxes were reduced or any of these other things that might affect their decisions."

Those who agree with the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision say corporations are groups of individuals, and anyone can make large campaign donations, which could make the election process more competitive. But Gunn, a board member of the group Washington Public Campaigns, says corporate dollars in elections and less transparency for tracking where that money comes from are a dangerous combination.

"A huge multinational corporation - maybe even one owned 51 percent by an interest in Saudi Arabia - could be influencing elections. That's something that I think all Americans are truly concerned about."

Gunn says people of all political persuasions will attend what he's calling the "Rally to Legalize Democracy." It will be held Friday in front of the Maleng Regional Justice Center, 401 4th Ave. N., Kent, starting at 11:00 a.m.

A panel discussion about the issue is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St., Olympia. Similar gatherings are planned across the country. Many of them are listed on the website www.movetoamend.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA