Strong Support In Mashpee, Statewide For Campaign Spending Limits

Voters in Mashpee and across the state overwhelmingly approved a non-binding ballot measure that directs state lawmakers to reverse the impact of the US Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United.

The question was not on the ballot statewide, but it appeared in six state senate and 30 house districts in Massachusetts, including the Third Barnstable House district and the Cape & Islands Senate district. Nearly 900,000 votes were cast on the measure.

The question read, “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that (1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the States may place limits on political contributions and political spending?”

In Mashpee, 75 percent of voters who answered the question voted yes. In districts across the state, 79 percent of the 899,880 voters who answered the question approved the initiative, according to preliminary results published in The Boston Globe. To achieve that level of support, both Democrats and Republicans had to have voted in favor. It passed in every district, with the exception of one house district where results were not available.

“At issue is, who controls our political process and what kind of influence do people with the most amount of money have on that process?” said Seth Rolbein, a spokesman for Senator Daniel A. Wolf (D-Harwich).

Sen. Wolf co-sponsored legislation two years ago that called on Congress to draft an amendment to the US Constitution, Mr. Rolbein said. Legislatures in other states drafted similar bills, and Mr. Wolf wanted to add to the groundswell of public support, he said. According to the national organization Move to Amend, California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont have called on Congress to draft a constitutional amendment to undo the impact of Citizens United. Political observers have said that the deluge of money that flowed into campaigns this year was a direct result of the Supreme Court decision.

The bill co-sponsored by Sen. Wolf has not passed the Massachusetts legislature and Mr. Rolbein said he does not have any information about when it might be taken up again.

“The senator is going to continue to be very supportive of the initiative in whatever form it takes,” he said. “He will work very hard on this issue to try to peel back the implications of this Supreme Court decision.”

State Rep. David T. Vieira (R-Falmouth), whose district voted 75 percent in favor of the measure, did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.

Mashpee resident Peter A. White sponsored a petition article at Mashpee Town Meeting in May 2011 similar to Tuesday’s ballot measure. It directed Mashpee’s representatives in the state Legislature and US Congress to work for ratification of a federal Constitutional amendment to revoke corporate personhood. The petition passed Town Meeting.

Mr. White said this week’s vote represented movement in the right direction.

“I was very pleased to see that people are becoming informed and involved on that issue,” he said. “Our democracy is corrupted. Our politicians aren’t much more than corporate prostitutes. This is crucial to our democracy.”

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