California Assembly Joins Growing Movement to Overturn Citizens United

Score one for REAL campaign finance reform.

Today the California State Assembly, with support from the California Labor Federation, Common Cause and many other labor and good government groups, joined the growing chorus nationwide to overturn the Citizens United decision.

By a vote of 48-22 the Assembly passed AJR 22, co-authored by Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Michael Allen (D-Sonoma County), which calls on Congress to overturn the outrageous Citizens United decision. Citizens United is fueling an unprecedented growth of corporate money in politics that, if allowed to continue, threatens the fabric of our democracy.


The Citizens United decision is judicial activism run amuck. For more than a century, Congress and the Supreme Court have recognized the need to differentiate between people and the vast amount of wealth at the disposal of large corporations.  The floodgates were opened by this ruling and now a small number of very wealthy interests are having a greater influence on our national politics than ever before.


Today the California Assembly took the first step towards correcting an egregious error in judgment by our federal Supreme Court. I was never taught in school that our democracy was founded ‘of the corporation, for the corporation, by the corporation.’  I’m proud of my colleagues who chose to stand up and send a clear message that California is ready to fight to return our democracy to the people.

The grassroots effort behind AJR 22 stands in stark contrast to the phony “reform” pushed by a group of ultra-wealthy conservatives who are attempting to give even more power to corporations through a deceptive ballot measure.

The measure, which will appear before voters in November, purports to be about getting “special interests” out of politics. In fact, it’s a giant smokescreen backed by the Lincoln Club of Orange County, the very group responsible for funding the attack movie on Hillary Clinton that ultimately led to the Citizens United decision, which undercut the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and declared that corporations were people.

Lance Williams in California Watch:

While Citizens United was litigated, club leaders argued that Congress’ efforts to limit corporate donations in federal elections violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. A divided U.S. Supreme Court endorsed that view in its 2010 decision.

“The Lincoln Club has a long history of spending big money in California politics and seeking to weaken the rules that prevent big money in politics,” said Derek Cressman, Western regional director of state operations for the good-government group Common Cause.

Common Cause hasn’t yet taken a position on the ballot measure, but he said the notion of the Lincoln Club advocating campaign finance reform was “laughable.”

While the Assembly’s support of AJR 22 is an important step in returning balance to our broken system that heavily favors corporate contributors, voters must beware of fake “reform” efforts that would actually make matters much worse.

The Lincoln Club’s so-called “Stop Special Interest Money Now” act is a perfect example of the lengths corporate interests will go to push their agenda on voters. It would silence the voices of workers like firefighters, plumbers and grocery clerks while a giant loophole would allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. That’s precisely the kind of corporate power grab that Californians roundly reject.

The labor movement stands behind real reform that will break the stranglehold of corporate influence. We stand with the Assembly and the growing movement nationwide to overturn Citizens United.

Join us in fighting fake, deceptive “reform” like the corporate power grab ballot measure. Learn more at www.ABetterCA.com.