Group Working To Get Corporate Money Out Of Politics

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A Wyoming group is attempting to ban corporate and union donations from political causes.

Wyoming Promise hopes to have a question on the ballot for the 2018 election aimed at overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court confirmed that political speech by businesses, trade unions and other organizations is protected speech. The ruling led to a sharp rise in so-called "dark money" in election campaigns.

If the initiative appears on the ballot and is accepted, Wyoming would become the 20th state to call for the adoption of a constitutional amendment to prohibit corporate and union donations to political causes. American Promise is a national organization working across the country to promote similar initiatives.

Ken Chestek, the chair of Wyoming Promise, noted that many of the activists in the campaign are Democrats.

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"We're absolutely looking for voters from not just both parties, I'd say all parties," he said. "We have significant numbers of Republicans who have signed."

Former Republican Sen. Al Simpson of Wyoming is another backer of the campaign.

"What right and privilege could be more important than one person-one vote: Being able to stand up as an equal citizen to have your say in our political system, knowing that the game is not rigged?" wrote Simpson in an opinion piece for the Casper Star-Tribune. "We should place Wyoming on the right side of this fight for the future of our democracy."

The News Tribune reported that the 2018 midterm elections are expected to be the most expensive in history, partly due to the impact of Citizens United. Around $3.84 billion was spent during the 2014 midterms.

"You can be pretty sure that, except for extraordinary circumstances, if you don't have money, you will lose," said Michael Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute, according to The News Tribune.

Wyoming Promise intends to do its bit to change this, provided it can collect around 39,000 signatures from registered voters by February. If it fails to do so, the group will have another 10 months to reach the signature goal, which would result in the initiative appearing on the 2020 ballot.

"The main struggle has been getting enough circulators on the street with petitions," added Chestek.

Wyoming Promise has approximately 200 volunteers campaigning across the state.

"When the circulators are out there with petitions talking to people, eight out of 10 people sign," he said.

Sources: Casper Star-Tribune, The News Tribune / Featured Image: Cliff/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Pete Souza/The White House/Wikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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