Here's what Baucus' amendment calls for:(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
Baucus' constitutional amendment would:Now here's the text of the Amendment:
· 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
Baucus Amendment: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:
“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.” - baucus.senate.gov, 7/29/10
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.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:
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
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: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
Here's the ad by the way: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