Published March 8, 2012 in the Rutland Herald
Final count: 64 Vt. towns call for political-funding limits
The final results are in: Vermonters in 64 communities voiced support this town meeting season for a constitutional amendment to limit federal campaign spending.
Nearly 70 communities considered a nonbinding resolution seeking to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision — Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission — that ruled 5-4 that corporations share the same First Amendment rights as individuals to donate freely to causes.
The advisory article asked local voters to urge state and federal officials to promote a constitutional amendment that “provides that money is not speech, and that corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”
As of Wednesday, cities and towns approving the item included:
Albany, Barnet, Bolton, Brandon, Brattleboro, Bristol, Burlington, Calais, Charlotte, Chester, Chittenden, Craftsbury, East Montpelier, Fayston, Fletcher, Granville, Greensboro, Hardwick, Hartland, Hinesburg, Huntington, Jericho, Lincoln, Marlboro, Marshfield, Middletown Springs, Monkton, Montgomery, Montpelier, Moretown, Mount Holly, Newfane, Norwich, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Randolph, Richmond, Ripton, Rochester, Roxbury, Rutland City, Rutland Town, Sharon, Shelburne, Shrewsbury, South Burlington, Starksboro, Sudbury, Thetford, Tunbridge, Underhill, Waitsfield, Walden, Waltham, Warren, West Haven, Williamstown, Williston, Windsor, Winooski, Woodbury, Woodstock and Worcester.
At least two municipalities turned down the resolution. Mendon said no in part because town meeting attendees didn’t consider the issue a local one, while Pittsfield declined after one speaker worried the measure would inhibit unions and liberal voices such as billionaire George Soros.
(Individual town vote totals are available at www.citizen.org/Towns.)
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has proposed a “Saving American Democracy” constitutional amendment to overturn the court action and restore the power of Congress and state lawmakers to enact political-funding limits.
“The people of Vermont and across America are totally disgusted with the huge amounts of money that billionaires and corporations are throwing into the political process,” Sanders said Wednesday. “We have to overturn this disastrous Citizens United decision. I hope the message coming out of the town meetings will spark a grassroots movement across the United States.”