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WASHINGTON, DC - April 21: Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., during the Senate Finance Committee roundtable discussion on overhauling the U.S. health care system. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly) (Newscom TagID: cqphotos034123)     [Photo via Newscom]
I don't write a lot about Senator Max Baucus (D. MT) because he has no love with this community, especially after killing the public option.  But I wanted to highlight this:

(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus once again reintroduced his Constitutional amendment to put elections back in the hands of the people. One week ago marked the three-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, which left foreign corporations and big business free to pour unlimited amounts of money into American elections, and opened the door for challenges to Montana's century-old state laws regulating political contributions.

"The people of Montana have spoken out loud and clear: 'our elections aren't for sale,'" Baucus said. "We've seen firsthand just how ugly unlimited, secret, outside money can be. My amendment says: no more, elections belong to the people. I'm introducing it again this Congress and I will keep introducing it as many times as it takes."

"In the last election, an overwhelming majority of Montanans signaled that they believe people-not corporations-should decide our elections," said Montana Senator Jon Tester who is co-sponsoring Baucus' Amendment. "The Citizens United decision was a kick-in-the-teeth to our democracy and it undermines Montana values. I'll do whatever it takes to bring full transparency to our elections and to put people and their ideas back in charge." - Political News, 2/1/13

Here's what Baucus' amendment calls for:
Baucus' constitutional amendment would:

· Overturn Citizens United;

· Restore the authority to regulate corporate and union political expenditures; and

· Protect states' right to regulate contributions in the way that works best for them.

· The amendment does not modify the First Amendment, and the language specifies that it does not affect freedom of the press in any way. - Political News, 2/1/13

Now here's the text of the Amendment:
Baucus Amendment:

“Section 1. Congress shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, a Federal office, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.
“Section 2. A State shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, public office in the State, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.
“Section 3. Nothing contained in this Amendment shall be construed to allow Congress or a State to make any law abridging the freedom of the press.” -, 7/29/10

Baucus might be a lot of things but he has spoken out against the Citizens United decision since 2010.  However, overturning Citizens United is a popular issue in Montana.  The Montana Supreme Court ruled in rejecting the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United:

The Supreme Court has struck down a Montana ban on corporate political money, ruling 5 to 4 that the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling applies to state and local elections.

The court broke in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock along the same lines as in the original Citizens United case, when the court ruled that corporate money is speech and thus corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections.

“The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the majority wrote. “There can be no serious doubt that it does.”
No arguments were heard; it was a summary reversal.

“To the extent that there was any doubt from the original Citizens United decision broadly applies to state and local laws, that doubt is now gone,” said Marc Elias, a Democratic campaign lawyer. “To whatever extent that door was open a crack, that door is now closed.” - Washington Post, 6/25/12

Montana legislature passed a law in 1912 barring direct corporate contributions to political parties and candidates after "copper king" Senator William Clark (D. MT) used his copper mining fortune to pay off local legislatures and judges.  On January 22nd, Baucus released an op-ed piece to the Billings Gazette renewing the call to overturn Citizens United:

That is why in July of 2010, I introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and restore Montana’s right to regulate corporate and labor spending in our elections. I will introduce that constitutional amendment once again in the new Congress – and again and again in every Congress until our elections are back in the hands of the people, where they belong.

This past election cycle brought unprecedented amounts of special interest money into Montana, and plenty of ugliness with it. But Montanans also took democracy into their owns hands with a ballot initiative and won an important victory in the fight to restore the people’s voice in our democracy. Nearly 75 percent of Montanans supported a ballot initiative in favor of a constitutional amendment targeting the problems caused by Citizens United. Once again, the people of Montana rose up to say “We are not for sale.”

We still have a long fight ahead of us. Amending the Constitution is not an easy process. It shouldn’t be. As James Madison wrote in the Federalist papers amending the Constitution should be done only on “great and extraordinary occasions.” - Billings Gazette, 1/22/13

Now Baucus has joined his colleague, Senator Jon Tester (D. MT) along with Senators Al Franken (D. MN), Tom Udall (D. NM), Sherrod Brown (D. OH) and Mark Begich (D. AK) in leading the call to overturn Citizens United.  But with Baucus being Baucus, I don't know if he is serious about it or is using it as a campaign issue.  A part of me wants to believe that he's serious about it because of Montana's legislative history dealing with unlimited corporate campaign financing.  But Baucus is also the example of revolving door lobbyists influencing the laws that are passed.  I'll be interested to see where he's going with this but he at least knows he has a big election coming up and is already working to revamp his image since killing the public option.  He's already started doing just that:

A new third party group is going up with a significant ad buy to shore up Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in advance of his 2014 reelection campaign.

The ad, from the new “Stronger Montana Fund,” thanks Baucus for leading the effort to permanently exempt family farmers and ranchers from the estate tax earlier this month.

The total size of the buy is $275,000, according to the group, and it will run across the state. - Washington Post, 1/31/13

Here's the ad by the way:

Happy Friday!

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 06:33 PM PST.

Also republished by Montana Kossaks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Does the proposed amendment have a text (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Boppy, wader

    we might read?

  •  First good I've heard of Baucus in a long time ... (7+ / 0-)

    and very likely it's just campaign-posturing. Also unlikely it'll pass. But it will push the Overton window a little bit, so ... GOOD.

  •  States Have Powers Not Rights. People, and Evi- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    dently at the present time corporations, have rights.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 06:41:02 PM PST

  •  Wake me up I'm dreaming. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Make it bigger. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, No Exit

    I am not against this amendment, I am for it.

    But as long as the amendment vehicle is gassed up, it should be about comprehensive election reform. Maybe not as extreme as instituting a popular vote for president, but surely there are many more widely-supported election reforms on spending, voting rights, etc. that should be a part of an amendment like this?

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 06:53:36 PM PST

    •  That's the thing with amendments: they need to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazybum, NonnyO, unfangus

      be as brief as possible.

      The longer and more detailed they are, the more likely it is that there will be stuff that the state legislatures will find objectionable and thus fail to ratify.

      We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

      by Samer on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:38:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uuuuuh..., no - we need short, simple wording (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazybum, unfangus

      Adding too many words increases the likelihood of inserting loopholes - just as what happens with laws made by consensus in the House and Senate.  The senators and reps get together, and say "I'll vote for your cockamamie bill if you vote for mine."  Amendments, of necessity, need to be clearly worded in short, simple sentences - the fewer, the better - per the prime author of the US Constitution:

      Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.
       ~ Thomas Jefferson
      I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
       ~ Thomas Jefferson

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:59:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  redirect attn from the $500 million Amgen gift (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, NonnyO

    that taxpayers have to pay for in the Jan 1 fiscal cliff package.  Nice ...

    Wasn't that his doing along with Orrin Hatch and Mitch McConnell?

  •  Wait! Max Baucus did something decent?!?! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He's just cancelled a couple of his ugly chips here.
    There are several proposals to amend the Constitution to undo the damage of CitizensUnited. It would be great if they could all converge and form a large, unified front and that may eventually happen. It's important for us not to fall into one camp or another and start bushwhacking our potential allies (a tendency that the Left is far too susceptible to, historically). This proposed amendment is clear and clean. So is the one from Move to Amend.
    If it was up to me, I'd go a slightly different route:
    Call it the "Human Rights Amendment".
    "For the purposes of this document (the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), the words Man, Men, The People, Residents, Citizens and all of their synonyms, refer to ALL human beings and ONLY human beings."
    That's it. One simple sentence.
    And look at how it works: It immediately knocks corporations and other legal constructs out of the game. It also makes redundant amendments and laws that ensure that our rights extend to minorities and women, without having to fight an identity politics battle.
    That second part is dear to me as I was involved in the unsuccessful fight  for the ERA, that should have been a shoo in. Women are the majority! And some men, like me, were also out in support of the bill. But because it was perceived as a bill that favored women over men (which of course it wasn't) it was vulnerable to demagoguery. I still can't believe that women would turn out against it, but then, I can't believe Phyllis Schlafly exists (and dammit, she's STILL alive!).
    By tying all of our rights together against a common enemy (Corporations) and conveniently not mentioning the secondary benefits, we have a better chance of fixing one of the most glaring problems with our founding document: That it was written in a time when black people were slaves and women were only one step up (they couldn't be sold).

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 06:49:01 AM PST

    •  it wouldn't help. (0+ / 0-)

      Citizens United is about the powers of Congress, it has nothing to do with whether, or to what extent, corporations are "persons" under the law.

      You have to define the problem correctly if you want your solution to work.


      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:49:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The laws written after the decision are one thing (0+ / 0-)

        but the basic decision was based on First Amendment arguments, that the company has Constitutional Rights that were formerly only afforded to humans.
        The interpretation of Personhood flows from that.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:53:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not at all the case. (0+ / 0-)

          The decison says that Congress lacks the power to reguate political speech. That's it.

          The identity of the entity speaking is irrelevant. If frogs could talk politics, Congress couldn't shut them up, and a legal determination that talking frogs are people wouldnt be necessary. Lkewise, a legal determinaton that coporations are not wouldn't, by itself, be sufficient.

          Thaat's the basic problem with "overturn Citizens United"... the only way to do so is to expressly grant Congress the power to regulate political speech. A Congress composed of politicians who have to run for reelection... care to wager that they would use that new power against themselves as well as thier opponents?

          I don't.

          Some powers are simply too dangerous to give away.


          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 10:16:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well that is a minimal position for Mr. K Street (0+ / 0-)

    We need an amendment that strips corporations of the notion that they are "persons".  They are fictional legal entitities.  And that amendment should emphasize that a grant of limited liability is a quid pro quo with a government in exchange for certain types of public responsibilities.

    We also need an amendment that undoes the conflation of money with speech.  Freedom of the press should not be constrained by income.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:21:19 AM PST

  •  Right and Left can agree here.. (0+ / 0-)

    The Corporate takeover of democracy must be checked. It has been entrenched for so long, made so many mistakes, committed so many sins that it truly has no friends except for the people they pay to support their agenda.

    Corporate USA is like the Hapsburg Empire just before 1914; a paper empire with enormous amounts of gilt and frooferaw, and no loyalty.

    The trick will be to kick Corporate USA over the edge without it taking Democracy USA with it.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:25:03 AM PST

  •  this has got to be one of the ultimate (0+ / 0-)

    ironies ever. Max 'I just put a 200 mil giveaway to Amgen into a fiscal thrift bill' Baucus sponsors a law against big money in government?

    It must be the people of Montana pressuring the hell out of him.

    if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:32:08 AM PST

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