Montana is now officially ground zero in the organized attack being waged on clean, fair elections. Yesterday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Lovell throwing out Montana’s 20-year-old contribution limits caps off what has been an ugly year for Montana election laws.
Throughout 2012, American Tradition Partnership – a shadowy, secretive Washington, D.C.-based group notorious for its attacks ads and campaign finance violations – has used the courts to gut Montana’s campaign finance laws. ATP’s victories come at the expense of Montana voters and of our “tradition” of fair, competitive elections.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court’s decision on American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock and ended 100 years of Montana policy prohibiting corporate money in Montana elections. Yesterday, ATP dealt another blow to democracy in Montana, with a court decision that eliminates our state’s contribution limits.
Both the Montana Corrupt Practices Act and Montana’s contribution limits were made law by Montana voters who approved the measures as ballot initiatives. ATP is not only rolling back our election laws, laws that have served Montana well and allowed for clean and fair elections, but it is also working to undermine the will of Montana voters.
I am proud to have worked on the campaign to pass those contribution limits in 1994. Naturally, I am offended by ATP’s attack on Montana’s contribution limits. But all Montana voters should be offended too.
These guys have contempt for Montana voters and the entire democratic process. They live in a world where corporations are people with constitutional rights, where money is speech, and where public offices should be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
That’s not the world we live in, and it’s not the reality that Montanans want.
Let’s get a few things clear.
Corporations are not people, the Bill of Rights was written to protect human beings not corporations, and corporations should not be allowed to buy our elections because of some distorted interpretation of the Bill of Rights.
Money is not speech and the First Amendment was never intended to allow corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited money in elections.
We saw what happened when the Copper Barons ruled Montana politics back in early 20th century, and we certainly don’t want to go back to those days. But that is ATP’s agenda, to return us to the days when Montana elections resembled auctions for the super-rich.
Thankfully, we have a way to fight back against ATP and their agenda because Montana voters have placed I-166 on the November ballot. Montanans are taking stand in support of clean and fair elections, and against the big money takeover of our democracy. Stand with Montanans and Vote FOR I-166.