From the People Who Brought California Prop 59, The Overturn Citizens United Act
NOW IN THE CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY: AB 20, The Corporate-Free Elections Act
MOVI is the sponsor of Assembly Member Alex Lee's bill which would prohibit corporations from contributing to candidates running for state and local offices in California. 22 states do not permit for profit entities from contributing directly to candidates. California should join them.
The short version of what happened in the Assembly Elections Committee Thursday morning is that AB 20, The Corporate Free Elections Act did not receive a vote and became a two-year bill.
To understand what happened to the bill we probably should start the story here:
Against the backdrop of $2.3 million received from corporations, the committee members were not thrilled to be told that corporations "invest" in candidates and if they did not get a return on those investments corporations would not make them.
The Committee's plan had been to let the AB 20 proponents present (ASM Lee, me, and Ron Fein, Legal Director for Free Speech For People,) open the Public Comment dial-in line and after the comments subsided, ASM Evan Low would make a motion for support which no one would second, and that would be the end of it.
ASM Lee was expecting not even to get an opportunity for a closing statement. (He made a closing statement.)
The committee hoped to quietly bury AB 20.
That did not happen. The Public Comments shook them. For 15 minutes Californians, many from the Members' own districts, particularly ASM Bennett's constituents from Santa Barbara and ASM Rubio's constituents from the San Gabriel Valley gave "me toos" in support of AB 20.
They also had to listen to Democratic Central Committees and Clubs up and down California voicing support for AB 20, as well as organizations like Courage Campaign and Indivisible groups, and of course, MOVI.
As soon as the "me too" line was closed ASM Lee asked how many people remained in the queue.
He was told that the queue had been cleared and there was no count available!
Now, though, the Members who had hoped to stay silent had to respond.
ASM Bennett tried to paint himself as a longtime champion of Campaign Finance Reform. ASM Rubio fumbled on about "Mom and Pop" corporations in her district. ASM Seyarto took umbrage at the notion that corporate donations are investments. Even ASM Low, who would make the motion for support, tried to defend the good corporations, the tech giants in his district. (ASM Mullin, btw, did not show up to the hearing.)
But it was the committee chair, Marc Berman, who let his ire get the better of him. In widely noted intemperate remarks, he attacked ASM Lee in an unseemly combination of hubris, misstatements and accusations.
Longtime Sacramento observers had never seen anything like it.
(You can watch the FULL HEARING The AB 20 portion begins at 54:00)
Here's the write up which appeared yesterday in CAL MATTERS.
What are we to make of these events?
Clearly we have a lot of work to do to wrest our state government back from the corporate interests that have captured Sacramento.
Your willingness to act rewrote the script. With your support we will continue to rewrite the script.
If you were watching or listening you will have heard me quote the leader of the Maine Senate, Troy Jackson, who on April 22nd introduced Maine's version of AB 20, LB 1417, in an emotional Facebook video.
While I could not say outright that our state's government is bought, I could let Senator Jackson say that "for far too long large corporations have been able to buy state governments and regular people just don’t have the money to buy them back."
It's a remarkable video and worth a viewing. The portion I quoted is right up front. Click here to watch.
We have opened the AB 20 petition back up as we plan for the next time AB 20 is heard in the Assembly Elections Committee, probably in December or next January. If you have not signed, please click here to add your name.
To those of you who braved the oddities of the call-in system (can anyone explain why the numbers handed out are discontinuous?) and waited for ASM Lee to find ASM Low as AB 20 lost its place as the first agenda item, Holly and Jeff join me in extending our profound thanks.
JOIN MOVI’s Campaign to Make California Prop 59 Compliant
With the passage of Prop 59 California voters instructed our elected officials “to use all of their constitutional authority” to deliver to the people of California an amendment to the US Constitution which would remove Big Money from our elections.
Every member of California’s Congressional Delegation received this instruction. There are 55 members of the California Congressional Delegation, 53 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the US Senate.
Every one of them has received an instruction from the voters of California with Prop 59. Compliance with that instruction requires each of them to sign on as a co-author of the Constitutional Amendment to “Overturn Citizens United.”
Passage of a constitutional amendment will require 292 votes in the US Congress. California’s 53 votes is nearly 20% of that total.
Together we can make this happen.
Is your California Member of Congress Prop 59 compliant?
A constitutional amendment to restore the power in our democracy to the people of America is the only permanent and comprehensive solution to corporate dominance over US policies both foreign and domestic and the ever increasing, SCOTUS enabled amounts of money that will continue to be thrown at increasingly corruptible candidates.
We need an amendment! We often hear that achieving a Constitutional Amendment is hard. We don’t disagree. It’s supposed to be hard.
What we don't hear about is the progress that’s being made every day by Americans demanding an amendment to overturn Citizens United.
22 states have passed legislation instructing the US Congress to pass an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Virginia became the 22nd in January, 2021. When the Wyoming legislature introduced a 2017 bill to overturn Citizens United that left only 7 states in the entire country with no formal measures undertaken to overturn Citizens United.
Money Out Voters In, MOVI is an organization of democracy advocates dedicated to ending corporate rule and promoting civic engagement.
MOVI General Meetings are suspended due to COVID-19
Meeting Place: The Peace Center, 3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, 90230