We the People, not We the Corporations
Published: November 17, 2011
In addition, employees and shareholders of some big corporations, along with other innovative citizens, have launched their own do-it-yourself disclosure campaigns. Using both inside tips and the occasional leak of secret corporate donations, they are publishing the information á la wikileaks and holding protests at corporate offices to expose publicity-shy executives who’re funneling shareholder funds into elections.
4. Impeach. At least two of the corporate-coddling Supremes – Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – had undisclosed ties to the Koch brothers and other secretive corporate plutocrats at the time the Supreme Court was considering the Citizens United case. Two national organizations have extensive information about the justices’ blatant disregard of basic ethics and are collecting petitions to hold them to account. Commoncause.org seeks a Justice Department investigation of the two and proposes that Supreme Court members be subjected to the Judicial Code of Conduct that applies to all other federal judges. Rootsaction.org goes farther, calling for impeachment proceedings against Thomas for accepting gifts from participants in cases before him and for filing false financial reports.
5. Connect. It’s not all bad news in Washington. Many members of Congress are pushing national policies to end or at least curtail the corrupting power of corporate political cash. It’s important to have an inside-outside strategy on these policies, linking grass-roots strength (ideas, courage, energy and numbers) to those fighting inside for real reform. One of the best points of connection is the Progressive Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minneapolis, and Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson. Find them at cpc.grijalva.house.gov.
6. Confront. The time to get the attention of Congress is now, when they’re running for office. Every candidate – incumbent, challenger, Republican, tea partier, Democrat, et al. – should be confronted politely, but insistently, on the corporate money issues: Citizens United, corporate personhood, public campaign funding, etc. Make appointments, attend their campaign events and town hall sessions, send queries and disseminate their responses as broadly as possible, even if all you get from them is gibberish.
7. Localize. All across the country, clean election coalitions have passed laws to give local and state candidates the alternative of using a public pool of money to finance their campaigns rather than having to kiss the ring of corporate interests. Learn about these successes and how you can launch a similar effort where you live by going to publi campaign.org.
Likewise, get information and inspiration from the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (poclad.org) and reclaimdemocracy.org about local communities that are restricting or outright rejecting the fiction of corporate personhood. From such small towns as Arcata, Calif., to cities like Pittsburgh, people are uniting to prohibit assertions of a corporate right to run over them. As Pittsburgh city council member Doug Shields said of a successful effort last November to ban natural gas fracking in his city, “It’s about our authority as a community to decide, not corporations deciding for us.”
> Email Jim Hightower