Activists overcame legal delays, media confusion and organized opposition
to place Overturn Citizens United Initiative on the November ballot.
Thanks to dedicated efforts by activists across California, millions of voters from the most populous state get a chance to go on record demanding that their elected representatives join the fight to overturn Citizens United by supporting Proposition 59 in the upcoming election. A strong Yes vote would be the most dramatic signal yet to politicians and media that the public backs calls for campaign finance reform demanded most recently by Bernie Sanders and boosted by Donald’s Trump’s admission that elected officials and public policies are all available for purchase by major campaign donors like himself.
It took three years of effort, two votes a year apart by the Legislature, a vote by the California Supreme Court that reversed its earlier ruling against the initiative, and a non-veto by Governor Jerry Brown, to get the hard-fought Proposition on the ballot. The victory energized the determined, people-powered movement that has swept California and which overcame an organized effort and legal battle by powerful and wealthy interests seeking to preserve a corrupted campaign finance system they largely control.
Faced with the threat of what was originally to be listed on the 2015 ballot as Prop 49, opponents turned to a familiar strategy of “confuse and delay” until voters lost interest. They created obstacles in court, found a willing ally in most corporate media (which profits heavily from campaign ads) to obfuscate issues and confuse voters by reporting their version of the alleged demerits of Prop 49, and backstage lobbied the Legislature to weaken or ignore reform. This time, however, they underestimated the voter passion for reform as reflected in polls and the determination of the Ballot movement.
Instead of becoming distracted or giving up, and angered at the attempt to muzzle their voices, voters and reform leaders united to demand even more change. Supporters made thousands of voter contacts to members of the Assembly and Senate. They also lobbied for additional Legislative measures to reduce the influence of money in politics, strengthened their relationships with legislative leaders, and pushed the reinvigorated Proposition though all of the legal and Legislative obstacles it faced.
Among the other reform measures activists have been supporting is passage of AB 700, the California Disclose Act, so voters are informed about who is funding specific political ads; also, SB 1107, which allow for a voter referendum on public financing of political campaigns.
Voters who want to to help Overturn Citizens United and clean up elections should sign up here!