The ability of corporations to influence elections took a hit on June 21, when Oregon’s House voted to urge Congress to clarify that money is not equivalent to free speech.
The vote, on House Joint Memorial 6, (HJM6,) joined political actions taken across the nation intended to turn the tide of massive corporate election spending.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling granted corporations all the same rights as citizens. The ruling has allowed corporations to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns.
Correcting this error is the responsibility of Congress, and HJM 6 expressed Oregon’s desire that Congress do just that; it asks Congress to limit political contributions made by individuals, corporations, and associations.
“The Citizens United case opened the floodgates for staggering corporate spending to influence elections at all levels of government. It’s wrong, and it shakes the foundation of our democracy,” said Rep. Brian Clem (D – Salem). “Corporations are spending millions to flood our publicly-owned airwaves with their messages and drown out average people who want a real dialogue.”
HJM 6 passed the Oregon House with a strong, bipartisan vote of 48 – 11 and now heads to the Senate.
The June 25 advance of the bill to an Oregon Senate Rules Committee means that citizen’s passion for campaign finance reform had been recognized officially in the state.