For Immediate Release
March 28, 2013
Voters Want to Weigh in on Controversial Supreme Court Ruling
MADISON – In just the early stages of a coalition drive to get a statewide referendum on Citizens United for the people of Wisconsin, over 18,000 Wisconsinites have signed a petition calling for a citizen’s vote on putting Wisconsin on record against Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to special interest money in the 2012 election. The petition requests a statewide referendum, which must be approved by legislators and the Governor. If the proposed ballot initiative passes, Wisconsin would join 11 states that have already gone on record for a constitutional amendment to limit election spending.
“Voters from Colorado to Montana have had their opportunity to vote on Citizens United; the people of Wisconsin want to have a say in the future of their democracy as well,” said WISPIRG Program Associate Joe Rasmussen. “The Citizens United ruling undermines our democracy. An issue this profound shouldn’t be decided by a vote of 9 judges, but rather by the millions of citizens who our government is supposed
to represent. Our state legislature should listen to the thousands of their constituent petition-signers, and approve a people’s vote.”
A broad coalition of 26 Wisconsin organizations, working with local volunteers across the state, have come together to collect 18,070 petitions calling for a statewide vote on the issue. Communities, including Eau Claire County, Dane County and West Allis have already held similar referendums. Referendums will appear on the April 2013 ballot in Chippewa County and Whitewater.
“Unlimited election spending by corporations and special interest groups has drowned out the voice of the people in our elections, and urgent action is needed to restore our democracy,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Wisconsin citizens will continue raising their voices against this hijacking of our democracy until fundamental reforms are enacted, starting with the reversal of Citizens United.”
The Citizens United ruling, along with a series of other court cases, opened the floodgates for unlimited spending by corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals to funnel their money into Super PACs and dark money groups running attack ads. The gubernatorial recall election, the state Supreme Court elections, and the November 2012 presidential and senate elections all attracted major spending by outside special interest groups, mostly from out-of-state, trying to influence election results. For example, $30 million in out-of-state money poured into the Baldwin-Thompson Senate race, as corporate CEOs and wealthy individuals from across the country unleashed a torrent of money to
influence this race.
The 26 Wisconsin organizations calling for a statewide referendum are: WISPIRG, People For the American Way, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Center for Media and Democracy, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend, United Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of Teachers – WI, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Citizen Action Wisconsin, Madison Area Urban Ministry, National Association of Social Workers – WI Chapter, United Council of UW Students, Madison Teachers Inc., WI Network for Peace and Justice, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Peace Action WI, WI Farmers Union, Sierra Club – Wisconsin John Muir Chapter, Door County Environmental Council, South West Wisconsin Area Progressives, Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens, One Wisconsin Now, 9 to 5, Progressive Dane, and Move to Amend of Southeast WI.