For Immediate Release - December 08, 2011

AG Coakley Supports Constitutional Amendment to Limit Unlimited, Undisclosed Corporate Spending in Elections

In Letter to State Judiciary Chairs, Urges Passage Of Resolution Supporting Federal Constitutional Amendment To Reverse Citizens United Decision

BOSTON – Stating that individual voters are being increasingly disenfranchised by the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of undisclosed contributions by corporations, Attorney General Martha Coakley today voiced her support for a federal constitutional amendment to make clear that corporate spending is not free speech.

AG Coakley expressed her support in a letter to the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Eugene O’Flaherty. In the letter, she supports passage of Senate Bill 772, “Restoring Free Speech,” which is a resolution that calls for a federal Constitutional Amendment to reverse the United States Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The federal amendment has been proposed with bipartisan support by Congressman James P. McGovern. The state Resolution was introduced by Senator James Eldridge and Representative Cory Atkins.

“As we have seen, average citizens are feeling increasingly disenfranchised and believe that our current political system favors the wealthy few instead of the public good,” AG Coakley said in her letter. “Individual people’s voices will continue to be steadily drowned out if corporations are allowed to spend billions in unreported and unaccounted funds to influence elections. The passage of the Resolution would send a strong message that it is time to put the electoral process back in the hands of the people, not corporations.”

In January 2010, the United States Supreme court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on corporate political campaign advertisements violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections, thereby allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.

That decision has resulted in a torrent of undisclosed corporate and special interest money into the electoral process through 501(c) non-profit organizations which are not required to disclose their donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the amount of money spent by non-party committees during the 2010 Congressional elections was more than $300 million, more than four times the amount spent during the 2006 Congressional elections.  The 2012 election will be the first presidential race since the Citizens United ruling.

A copy of the Attorney General’s letter can be found here.

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