Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, appeared on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show yesterday to discuss a newly proposed amendment to the Constitution he introduced to reform campaign finance in the U.S.
The Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Amendment would “amend the U.S. Constitution to make clear that corporations are not people, that corporations cannot spend money in our elections, that Congress and the States can regulate corporations, and that Congress can limit and require full disclosure of all political contributions and expenditures by all individuals and private entities,” the website created for the bill says.
The name of the bill is a clear homage to the protests taking place around country in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is displaying clear dissatisfaction with the country’s economic situation and the political power of financial institutions. Among the long list of issues important to Occupy Wall Street has also been campaign financing in the U.S.
During his interview yesterday, Deutch discussed the impetus for his legislation.
“If you look at the protests taking place, not just on Wall Street, but across the country, there is a fundamental belief that Congress isn’t working for the American people … and there is evidence to back that up,” Deutch said on Ratigan’s show.
“People are frustrated at what they see, and again, this spans the political spectrum. From the Occupy movement, to the rest of the political spectrum, everyone would agree that for far too long corporations have really occupied our nation’s capital,” Deutch said. ”It makes it really difficult for the people to have control over their government.”
According to a website created to garner support for the amendment, “the OCCUPIED Amendment will end corporate influence in our elections by”:
- Overturning Citizens United and outright banning the ability of corporations to use their profits to influence our elections.
- Making clear that corporations, as well as entities formed to represent corporations — are not real, living people with rights protected by our Constitution. They are entities established under our laws and thus subject to our laws.
- Reasserting the authority of Congress and the States to crack down on anonymous third party groups flooding our elections with malicious attack ads and to limit campaign contributions and expenditures by individuals, candidates, and all types of private entities.
The amendment has four sections — each addressing one of the major aspects of the country’s campaign system that Deutch sees as corrupt.
Section one says that “corporations are not people.” According to the bill, “the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.”
Section two of the amendment says that “corporations can be regulated by people … [and] are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press,” according to the website.
Section three sets prohibitions in place for corporations in elections. According to the amendment, “such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or upon any ballot measure submitted to a vote of the people.
Lastly, section four would regulate “all electioneering, contributions, and expenditures by individuals and other entities,” the website says. This relaxed regulation of this type of political behavior has been one of the biggest complaints by groups advocating for campaign finance reform. The proposed amendment says: “Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.”
You can watch Deutch’s appearance here: