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Virginia legislators back constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United

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Virginia is one of five states with no limits on campaign contributions. We’re the Wild West when it comes to campaign spending.

Several pieces of specific legislation aimed at slowing our roll have failed to get out of committee in the 2021 General Assembly session.

Legislators took a small step – a baby step – in the right direction this week.

Both the House of Delegates and Senate passed, by voice vote, a resolution supporting an amendment to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and monied individuals to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.

Voice votes.

Can’t even put their names to it.

Hey, right direction.

“Today, despite living in a state where there is almost no regulation on big money in elections, we as Virginians have joined countless other Americans in sending the resounding message that we will not tolerate big money in our politics,” said Ilana Beller, a Public Citizen organizer and a resident of Virginia.

“We must use this momentum to ensure that the United States Congress votes to enshrine this protection of our democracy in our Constitution,” Beller said.

We also got this today from People For the American Way President Ben Jealous.

“It is truly exciting to see Virginia become the latest state to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment to address the influence of big money in politics,” Jealous said. “It’s long past time to do away with the era of unlimited outside political spending by wealthy special interests that Citizens United and related court decisions have saddled us with for more than a decade.

“This action by Virginia lawmakers reaffirms the pro-democracy, people-centered policy direction that Virginians stand for, and we applaud the General Assembly for making Virginia the 22nd state to join the movement for this critical reform,” Jealous said.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans agree that big money is undermining our democracy, and three in four Americans back a constitutional amendment allowing Congress and the states to regulate campaign finance.

With these voice votes, Virginia joins 21 other states and over 800 municipalities in supporting an amendment to overturn Citizens United.

This move comes as the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced HJ Res 1, the federal joint resolution that proposes the constitutional amendment that will regulate election spending and overturn Citizens United.

You can say, never going to happen, but keep in mind, we just enacted nonpartisan redistricting, which also was never going to happen, until it did.

Baby step.

Right direction.

Story by Chris Graham


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