Montana ‘Prarie Populism’ and I-66: ‘Corporations aren’t people, my friend’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Stand_Logo_MinusPaidInfoOne of the ballot measures we are following here at Blog for Arizona is a Montana initiative, I-66, that declares corporations are not human beings and bans corporate money in politics.

It is "Prarie Populism" supported by the Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer; the Republican lieutenant governor, John Bohlinger, and various citizens’ groups; its opponents include various Republican lawmakers and the American Tradition Partnership, the right-wing advocacy group responsible for the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Montana's century old ban on corporate money in politics.

Kathleen Geier writes at the Political Animal blog, This year’s most intriguing ballot referendum: Montana’s corporate personhood initiative:

The one poll I was able to find about the measure showed it leading by a whopping 29 points: 53% in favor, 24% opposed. It looks like a shoe-in to pass.

There are however, a few wrinkles. The initiative is has been described
as “nonbinding;” it is simply a policy statement that would direct the
behavior of Montana’s congressional delegation. Moreover, according to
constitutional law experts, it wouldn’t be enforceable, because it conflicts with federal law.

So why, then, could I-66 be important? First, some background:
earlier this year, the Supreme Court reversed Montana’s 100-year old
law, the visionary Corrupt Practices Act, which banned political
contributions by corporations. That case followed on the heels of a
landmark Supreme Court ruling, the infamous Citizens United decision,
which held that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend
unlimited corporate money in elections. By opening the floodgates of
corporate funding and essentially giving our elected officials license
to sell themselves to the highest bidder, Citizens United poses a grave
threat to our democracy. Ordinary people need to take their country back
from the one percenters and corporate oligarchs, and I-66 gives them a
weapon in the fight.

Supporters believe that I-66, if passed, could, in Governor Brian Schweitzer’s words, “start a prairie fire”
that spreads across the nation. They say it could be the first step in
mounting a test case to challenge Citizens United, or perhaps in
building a movement to pass “an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that abolishes the Citizen’s United decision”.

Governor Schweitzer points out that

It was Montana in 1912 that banned corporate money from
our elections. We don’t mind leading and we believe it has to start
somewhere. This business of allowing corporations to bribe their way
into government has got to stop. [Snip] Once Americans understand that’s
what’s going on here they’ll stand up, they’ll stand with Montana.

It will be fascinating to see what happens with this.

I have spoken to some Arizona politicians about putting this measure on the Arizona ballot in 2014. We'll see what develops.