Are you tired of the glut of negative political ads on TV these days? Thank the two court cases below. In 1996, the average race for a seat in the House of Representatives cost less than a million (in 2010 dollars). Just last week, a person running for the House in the suburbs north of Chicago got a million dollars in support from a Super Pac.

In the case Citizens United vs. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned the McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Law that prevented unions and corporations from making unlimited contributions to political campaigns. The SpeechNow.org vs. FEC case affirmed the right of groups that are not directly run by the candidate (those that spend independently) to raise and spend unlimited funds — thus the name Super Pacs (Political Action Committee), usually set up as LLCs (Limited Liabilities Company). In fact, “independently” isn’t very independent. Many are set up by former staffers of the candidate.

These court decisions are based on an 1886 ruling that gave corporations the rights of citizens under the 14th amendment, which was originally passed to give rights to the freed slaves.

Just over 57 percent of the $230 million raised by Super PACs from individuals came from just 47 people giving at least $1 million. Just over 1,000 donors giving $10,000 or more were responsible for 94 percent of this fundraising. Also, outside spending organizations reported $167.5 million in spending to the FEC. Of this, $12.7 million (7.6 percent of the total) was “secret money” that cannot be traced back to an original source. This info is from a study by USPIRG and DEMOS.

Many of the billionaires are now bragging about how many millions they will contribute to get their favorites elected. This seems to me to be a legalized form of bribery of our elected officials. Often these kinds of contributions do not have to be reported until after the election.

There will be a non-binding resolution on the ballot in November:

“Shall the people of Oak Park stand with communities across the country in requesting that our village, county, state, and federal representatives enact resolutions and legislation, including consideration for amending the Constitution of the United States to establish that:

a) Political money is not the same as speech, and therefore that money shall be regulated; and

b) The rights guaranteed by the Constitution were and are primarily intended for human beings, not corporations.

I urge you to vote YES.

Karla Chew

Oak Park

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