Tuesday, January 31, 2012
NM State House of Representatives Calls for Amendment to U.S. Constitution to Reverse Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision
House Memorial 4, sponsored by State Representative Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, was approved by a 38-29 vote in the New Mexico State House of Representatives today. HM4 puts the House on record calling for the Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission -- a ruling that has resulted in an explosion of unlimited, and often undisclosed, Super PAC spending in the current Republican presidential nominating process.
"Today, the New Mexico State House of Representatives took a stand for our nation's democracy and the intent of our Constitution, which values the voices of individuals over the voice of money," said Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico. "This legislation is significant because it puts New Mexico on record in support of a Constitutional amendment that will eventually require ratification by 38 states."
Representative Don Tripp of Socorro was the lone Republican to vote in favor of the bill. Three other Republicans -- Paul Bandy, David Chavez, and Bob Wooley -- were recorded as absent for the vote on HM4. All House Democrats and independent Andy Nunez of Hatch voted in favor.
In her opening remarks about the legislation, Rep. Stewart noted that largely due to the Citizens United ruling, more than $20 million had been spent by Super PACs in Florida in the last week alone.
Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D, Bernalillo) discussed the long tradition of popularly-supported campaign finance regulation in the United States that has held that corporate spending in elections should be either prohibited or strictly regulated.
As a House Memorial, the legislation needs no further approval or signatures, although similar expressions of opposition to Citizens United are contained in at least three other memorials.
The current impact of Super PAC spending has already been evident in the Republican presidential primaries. Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul, contributed two $5 million checks to a SuperPAC supporting Newt Gingrich.
Senator John McCain recently called the Citizens United decision the worst Supreme Court decision in history.
A vast majority of small businesses across the nation are also concerned about the impact of the decision. In a recent survey, 66% said the ruling was "bad for business." http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_money_in_politics.html. In an opinion editorial in the Albuquerque Journal last weekend, Albuquerque small business owner Joshua Fristoe of Kosh Solutions noted that "when I make decisions about where to invest in our business, I prefer to do so in innovation and business development. Increasingly, the assumption seems to be that underwriting political campaigns should just be accepted as just another cost of doing business."