,

Other98 at Citizens United 5th Anniversary Rally

On the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United vs FEC ruling, The Other 98%’s Communications Director Alexis Goldstein spoke out against money in politics at a snowy Public Citizen rally outside the White House, and in the shadow of the conservative Chamber of Commerce trade group.

Goldstein spoke alongside U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, The Rev. William Lamar IV, senior pastor, Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., Fatmata Jabbie, Wal-Mart employee and activist, Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs With Justice, and Rhana Bazzini – an 82-year old grandmother who recently walked 400 miles across Florida to raise awareness of money in politics.

Here are the text of Goldstein’s prepared remarks:

“Hello! My name is Alexis Goldstein, and I’m with Other98.org. And I have a couple of questions for all of you here today.

Who here has an extra $6.2 million lying around that you can donate to help elect candidates of choice? Raise your hand high and proud if you do.

$6.2 million is how much David Koch personally contributed toward the 2014 midterms.

Thanks to Citizens United vs FEC, and to the federal ruling in SpeechNow.org vs FEC, which laid the groundwork for Super PACs, we have descended into a nightmare perhaps even George Orwell would not have anticipated. A future where all people are equal, but some people–corporate people–are more equal than others.

Perhaps even more disconcerting that the numbers I just gave you, are the numbers we don’t even know about.

Open Secrets reported that in the 2014 midterms, over $169 million dollars was spent by groups that did not reveal any details about their funders. This was the largest amount of dark money expenditures EVER.

We have entered into a shadowy, opaque world of campaign financing, where more than half of the time we don’t even know who corporations are donating to.

This is in stark contrast to a prediction made by Justice Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion in the Citizens United case. Kennedy wrote, “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions.”

Unfortunately for We, The People, Justice Kennedy could not have been more wrong. The idea that corporations would voluntarily disclose their donations has proven to be as false as Alan Greenspan’s assertion that the markets will self-regulate.

Unequal enforcement of the law in the United States is receiving unprecedented levels of attention, as the movement against police violence in the United States mobilizes and grows. But the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a highly scrutinized and surveilled.

Where is that same sort of scrutiny on corporations? When individuals break the law, or when people of color in this country are even PERCEIVED to be breaking the law, it’s arrests, jail–or worse. But when corporations break regulations, they pay fines. And then they spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress to rewrite the regulations so they need not even pay those fines. If only life were so easy for We, The People.

But we are all here today to say NO: no to the idea that it’s ok for political power to flow from wealth. And we’re here to say NO to having two sets of rules, one for the rich and powerful, and one set for the rest of us. If we stand united together in this fight, a fairer, more just society awaits us.”

LEAVE A REPLY