Opponents would like to keep the debate over I-166 in the courtroom, but Montana voters deserve better. In Montana, our politics are face-to-face, person-to-person, and the issue of corporate money in elections warrants a vigorous public debate.
That's why I sent a letter on Wednesday challenging our opponents to a series of debates.
The letter went to:
- Lorna Kuney (treasurer for Montanans Opposed to I-166)
- Chris Gallus (attorney for Montanans Opposed to I-166)
- James Brown (attorney for Montanans Opposed to I-166 and American Tradition Partnership)
- Donny Ferguson (executive director, American Tradition Partnership)
- Sen. Dave Lewis (plaintiff in the Montana Supreme Court challenge to I-166)
- Phil Lilleberg (plaintiff in the Montana Supreme Court challenge to I-166).
We are waiting on their response.
Read the letter for yourself...
The people of Montana deserve the opportunity to hear a real debate on the merits of Initiative 166, the “Prohibition on Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections Act.” To that end, we are requesting a series of debates this fall and are extending this debate request to a number of people and groups associated with efforts to undermine Montana’s strong system of fair elections.
We believe there is a concerted effort to hide who is funding the opposition campaign and who is leading this opposition effort. We hope that during the debates you will inform Montanans who is funding your campaign, as that is currently unclear. We also hope that you will illuminate who are the leading opponents to this measure, as few have so far come forward.
This November, Montana voters will have the opportunity to cast their votes on one of the most important issues of our time. The issue of corporate money in elections warrants a vigorous public debate; therefore, we challenge you to a series of debates to be held during the last two weeks of September. During week one, we will debate in communities throughout the western part of the state; during week two, we’ll debate in the eastern part of the state.
We invite you to join us in taking this debate over I-166 out of the courtroom and to the people.
To date, your opposition to I-166 has focused on legal challenges aimed at blocking a vote by Montanans on this citizens’ initiative in November. Just last week, in the wake of the Montana Supreme Court decision rejecting your first lawsuit, you filed yet another frivolous lawsuit. We fully anticipate any number of future attempts to block the people’s right to vote on this issue through a series of legal challenges.
Montana voters expect and deserve more; our politics are face-to-face, person-to-person. Using faceless and expensive legal actions – funded by out-of-state groups with deep pockets who won’t disclose their funders – is not the Montana way.
So, at the end of September we ask you to debate, before the people, the questions at hand: Should corporations be entitled to the same constitutional rights as human beings? Should campaign donations and spending equate to constitutionally protected free speech? Should corporations and wealthy individuals, therefore, be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money buying elections? Should Montana be forced to give up its system of fair elections?
In light of last week’s decision by the Montana Supreme Court, I-166 will indeed appear on the November 2012 ballot. The people of Montana will have their say on this issue. It is time for us to debate the merits of this initiative in a public forum.
Therefore, Stand with Montanans cordially invites you, each individual and organization named, to a series of ten debates throughout Montana. Each side will be allowed one speaker to represent their side. Please respond to indicate that you accept this challenge and who will be representing the opposition.
Montanans expect issues to be decided with vigorous debate, not with faceless, nameless opponents with hidden money and certainly not through a series of frivolous lawsuits.
What is the harm of debating your position before the people of this state?
This is a sincere challenge, one we expect you to respond to so that Montanans will have an informed decision this November.
C.B. Pearson, Treasurer
Stand with Montanans