Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson Urges 28th Amendment Setting Limits on Election Spending
Retired Wyoming Senator Alan K. Simpson is part of a group supporting a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.
Simpson wrote a letter in favor of such an amendment, with the letter featured in a panel discussion called "How Big Money is Stealing Our Democracy (And What We Can Do About It)" Monday at the UW College of Law.
The panel discussion is one of three events in Laramie co-hosted by American Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to winning a 28th amendment. Simpson is a member of the group's advisory council.
Simpson's letter calls on Wyoming citizens to stand "firmly on the right side of this fight for the future of our democracy," according to a press release from the group.
The letter also urges Wyomingites to "support a 28th Amendment to the Constitution so we can have reasonable limits on election spending, reform pay-to-play politics, and secure human liberty and equal representation rather than turn our government over to a global corporate marketplace."
Simpson highlights money in politics as the chief problem the U.S. faces, according to the release. He also points out that corporations are not people, but creatures of the state that must be subject to its control, as stated in the Wyoming Constitution.
It's not Simpson's first effort on this front. In 2015, he sent a public letter to Republican state legislators calling on them to support a 28th amendment.
American Promise says 18 states and over 740 cities and towns have passed resolutions in favor of such an amendment, with cross-partisan support.
In Montana and Colorado, the group says, voters have approved 28th amendment ballot initiatives by margins of 50 percent.
Jeff Clements, the group's president, led Sunday's service at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Laramie and discussed the issue.
"The Supreme Court struck down the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act," Clements said in an interview. "That law was about keeping the money of corporations and unions and the wealthy from overwhelming our political system."
"The idea was that at election time, the people should be able to participate but you don't want the people drowned out or overwhelmed by the very loudest voices -- those with the most money," Clements explained. "So the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act limited the ability of money to be spent to influence the outcome of an election."
The Supreme Court struck that law down, saying that restricting the ability to spend money in an election would amount to restricting speech.
"Most Americans don't agree with that," Clements said. "If it is, then only those with money have free speech rights."
"It undermines the right of all of us to have equal representation in our political system," Clements added, saying the Court's decision has had severe repercussions for the nation.
"The 28th amendment will correct that and get us back on the path to an effective democracy that works for everybody," Clements concluded.