By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Windsor this week joined a growing list of local and state governments urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to limit political spending by corporations.
On a 3-1 vote, the Town Council approved a resolution that aims to undo a U.S. Supreme Court decision that conferred “personhood” status to corporations on issues of free speech and campaign contributions.
“In my mind, corporations have too much influence,” Mayor Debora Fudge said Friday. “Corporations can have more say in what goes on in the United States than citizens can.”
Fudge, who voted in favor of the resolution, acknowledged that a constitutional amendment is a long shot, but “if you don’t take action you never get change.”
She was joined by councilmembers Sam Salmon and Cheryl Scholar in supporting a constitutional amendment.
Councilwoman Robin Goble voted against it, saying the council should stick to local issues.
“It wasn’t the content of the measure,” she said Friday. “I had a problem taking action with something on a national level.”
Councilman Steve Allen declined to vote.
The resolution approved by the council aims to counter the rollback of legal limits to corporate spending that resulted from the high court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Candidates typically are governed by contribution limits. In the case of presidential candidates, they can accept no more than $2,500 from an individual or $5,000 from a political action committee.
No such limit applies to individuals. They can spend as much as they want — as long as they operate independently of the candidates.
In its landmark 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that labor unions and corporations also have a right to unlimited independent expenditures in federal elections.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 last month to urge Congress to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would reverse the Supreme Court decision.
The California Assembly, on a 42-22 vote, urged Congress to undo the court’s decision.
Opposing Republican lawmakers argued that corporations have a right to influence elections because they are subject to government regulations.
“What is a corporation? It’s an assembly of people,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks.
According to Move to Amend, a national coalition pushing for a constitutional amendment, 59 municipalities, including New York City and Los Angeles, and 28 states, have passed resolutions supporting an amendment. Another 11 state resolutions are in process, according to the organization.