Montana Becomes 1st State to Schedule Ballot Initiative that Advocates Ban on Corporate Money in Elections

HELENA, MT – The Montana Secretary of State on Wednesday officially qualified for the November ballot an initiative advocating for a ban on corporate money in elections.

The “Prohibition on Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections Act” would make it state policy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights and that money is not speech. It would also charge Montana’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the United States Constitution to nullify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

“Montana is leading the country in standing up to a wrongheaded Supreme Court ruling, and I think we’ll see other states and cities following close behind,” said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, which is helping to build a vigorous grassroots movement to reverse Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. Through a campaign called Amend 2012, Common Cause is pushing for ballot initiatives like Montana’s in other states and localities across the country.

In Citizens United and several other decisions, the Supreme Court has declared that corporations enjoy the same free speech rights as individuals and so can tap their treasuries to make “independent expenditures” supporting or opposing candidates. Gifts from companies directly to the candidates and their campaign committees remain illegal in federal elections but are allowed in some states.

Common Cause and Free Speech for People have been working with “Stand with Montanans,”a statewide campaign backed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger. The campaign gathered more than 40,000 signatures from state voters to get the initiative on the November ballot. .