United Wisconsin Launches Petition Drive in Wauwatosa Calling for the Reversal of Citizens United

WANT TO SIGN THE PETITION? Visit the Wauwatosa Public Library (7735 W North Ave) between 9:30am-4:30pm Monday through Friday and visit our table right inside the main entrance!

Grassroots campaign underway to place referendum on Wauwatosa ballot

WAUWATOSA – Building upon the nationwide movement to get big money out of elections, United Wisconsin members kicked off a petition drive in the city of Wauwatosa this weekend to place a referendum on the ballot calling for the reversal of Citizens United.

The petition drive in Wauwatosa marks the latest city in Wisconsin to go on record in opposition to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which granted corporate entities the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, overturning nearly a century of settled law regarding the financing of electoral campaigns.

“This issue runs far deeper than any partisan issue,” said Wauwatosa Alderman Greg Walz-Chojnacki. “For me, it comes down to the question of whether democracy means ‘one person, one vote’ or ‘one dollar, one vote.’ This referendum is an important opportunity for the citizens of our city to pause and consider the meaning of democracy in America.”

On April 2, 2013, Chippewa County, along with the cities of Fort Atkinson and Whitewater all passed referendums by wide margins calling for the reversal of the Citizens United, joining the cities of West Allis, Monona and Madison, along with Dane and Eau Claire Counties who have taken similar action since 2010.

Petition circulators will have 60 days to collect the nearly3,800 signature goal set by organizers to place the referendum on the ballot in Wauwatosa for the next scheduled general election. According to state statute, placing a municipal referendum on the ballot requires 15% of the total votes from that municipally in the last gubernatorial general election.

Local grassroots community groups, including Grassroots Tosa and Move To Amend- Milwaukee, have joined United Wisconsin in the campaign.

“Spending on our elections is out of control, and has eroded trust in both our elected officials and the very foundation of our country,” said Alan Nichols, United Wisconsin volunteer leader and Grassroots Tosa activist. “When corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to buy our elections, how are we to trust that those sent to higher office are working for our best interests and not theirs?”

Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, special interest spending on elections has skyrocketed. According to a recent report released by the WISPIRG Foundation and Demos entitled “Billion Dollar Democracy”, total spending on the 2012 election cycle topped $5.2 billion, with over $1 billion coming from outside groups like Super PACS. Even more alarming, nearly 60% of the total Super PAC funding came from just 159 individuals making contributions of at least $1 million.

Currently, 13 states have already called for a constitutional amendment reversing Citizens United, with the state of Maine joining the list earlier this month.

“Unlimited election spending by corporations and wealthy special interests gives them a bullhorn that drowns out the voice of everyday citizens,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “This movement taking place in Wauwatosa and across our state is an example of the people taking direct action to ensure their voices are heard. We are calling on our legislature to stand up for the principles of democracy and join the growing list of states demanding an end to the corrupting influence of big money in politics.”

The full language of the proposed referendum follows:

Shall the City of Wauwatosa adopt the following resolution:

RESOLVED, the City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, calls for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:

1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and

2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we hereby instruct our state and federal representatives to enact resolutions and legislation to advance this effort

WANT TO SIGN THE PETITION? Visit the Wauwatosa Public Library (7735 W North Ave) between 9:30am-4:30pm Monday through Friday and visit our table right inside the main entrance!

Click here to get involved in the campaign!

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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(Photo courtesy of the Overpass Light Brigade)

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