Here’s Something Your State Can Do to Fight Corporate Money in Politics

Demonstrators with the #NHRebellion march earlier this year in which activists walked across the state to kick off a campaign to get big money out of politics.Demonstrators with the #NHRebellion march earlier this year in which activists walked across the state to kick off a campaign to get big money out of politics. (Photo: Bruce Skarin)

Nation Action is the political action blog at The Nation magazine website. The editors post initiatives that their readers can get involved with if they want to become more active on a particular issue. This week, the editors pointed to a campaign that RootsAction, Free Speech for America and The Nation are working on to make corporate campaign donations public information.

Here are some of the details.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans think that there is too much corporate money in politics. With numbers like that, you would think it would be easy to pass legislation to roll back Citizens United and end the flood of out-of-control corporate spending that has poisoned our elections. That has been far from the case. Just this fall, Senate Republicans blocked an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens decision.

In the face of this federal inaction, Maryland could pass an exemplary bill next year that would make a real difference. This January, State Senator Jamie Raskin will introduce the Shareholders United Act, legislation that would require corporations to post all political contributions on their websites within 48 hours and would forbid corporations from spending on political campaigns and candidates unless they are able to prove that the contribution reflects the “majority will” of their shareholders. Crucially, if the majority of the corporation’s shares are held by institutional investors that cannot take political positions — this includes pension and retirement funds, insurance companies, universities and nonprofits — that corporation would be forbidden from donating to political campaigns. Because the majority of shares of Fortune 500 companies are owned by institutional investors, this provision would seriously hamper the ability of corporations to disproportionately influence popular elections.

Visit the Nation Action blog to learn more about this action »

To Read
In The Washington Post, Raskin breaks down his reasoning for introducing the Shareholders United Act and explains his plans for the bill in Maryland.

Get Involved
Interested in finding out more about the legislation? Campaign organizers are running a petition calling on legislators in other states to pass their own Shareholders United Act.

Watch Video
In 2012, Raskin and The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel joined Bill to talk about how the uncontested power of the Supreme Court is changing our elections, our country and our lives. Watch now: