Better World Club

Monday, January 31, 2011

Stop Unlimited Corporate Campaign Donations

Better World Club joins Ben & Jerry's, Seventh Generation, Calvert Investments, and other Companies to Speak Out Against Citizens United

US Supreme Court Says Money Is Speech, Congress Says Talk All You Want As Long As We Get the Money

BWC President Mitch Rofsky joined Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Wayne Silby of Calvert Investments, Jeff Holender, the founder of Seventh Generation, and a number of other corporate executives in Washington DC on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United.

In Citizens United, the Court struck down traditional restrictions on corporate political contributions with a 5-4 vote. Subsequently, legislation requiring "disclosure" of corporate contributions passed the House of Representatives, but Senators in support of the bill fell short of ending a filibuster against it.

Ben and Jerry started the event by declaring: "I'm Ben Cohen and I'm a person." "I'm Jerry Greenfield and I'm a person." "Together, we're Ben & Jerry's, which is not a person." In so doing, they were confronting the Court's ruling that corporations have the same Constitutional rights as individuals.

Mitch referred to his testimony before the House Administration Committee on Campaign Finance Reform in 1979: He proposed that corporations recognize that corporate contributions involve more than "buying influence." "There are two sides to the same coin: there may be bribery, but let's not forget that pressure can run both ways -- which means that extortion can be involved as well." He was recently told that corporations are expected to pay $25,000 for meetings with Senators.

Mitch asked the press to encourage retired Congresspeople to disclose just how much time they spent raising money (purportedly as much as half their time as elections approach) and how they were pressured by businesses. Using former Aetna executive Wendell Potter as an example, he also encouraged the press to identify retired corporate executives that would speak on the role of business on political fundraising. Potter has become an effective advocate for health insurance reform, and Rofsky suggested that there are many retired executives who might be willing to disclose how their corporations used money to influence policy.

Better World Club encourages all business leaders to get involved on this issue. They can start by going to Business for Democracy(www.businessfordemocracy.com). If you are not a business executive, check out Public Citizen's "Don't Get Rolled" campaign.)

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