State Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, announced last week he will again introduce legislation to address the effects of campaign spending in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United.
His proposal, which he also introduced in 2010 soon after the decision and again last session in 2011, initiates a federal constitutional amendment through the state process.
Specifically, his legislation is a concurrent resolution calling for a U.S. Congressional convention to amend the Constitution on the subject of election spending. Included in the amendment is the specific language for the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to specifically allow Congress and the states to pass laws limiting the amount of money that can be raised and or spent and further limit the amount of money any person or group can donate in federal or state elections.
Santarsiero said it is no coincidence that his call for reform falls on the three-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. In its decision, the Court found by a 5-4 vote that corporations and other groups could spend their money to support or oppose political candidates, and that denying them their right to do so was in violation on the First Amendment.
The decision effectively ended restrictions on corporate money in politics and placed too much power in the hands of special interest groups, Santarsiero said.
"Unfettered contributions from corporations, political action committees or individuals only serve to further undermine the public confidence in our government,” he said. “Large contributions can limit the debate to include only the select few, making government actions small."
According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, an amendment can be proposed to the Constitution if two thirds of both chambers of Congress deem it necessary, or if two thirds of the state legislatures apply to Congress.
“In the past, I have been disappointed by the political division on this issue,” Santarsiero said. “Hopefully by now, members on both sides of the aisle have realized that the prevailing corporate donations in recent elections have only driven our state’s and nation’s legislation away from our families and citizens and into the pockets of special-interest groups.”