Senate Elections Committee Testimony on AJR 22

By Pedro Morillas
Legislative Director

This resolution is an important message and an important opportunity to get the public to coalesce behind a concrete solution to the problems created by the Supreme Court’s misstep in the Citizens United case two years ago.

Since that decision we have seen the amounts of money pouring into our elections increase dramatically and Super PACs have become a household term. Outside spending in elections increased from $3.4 million in 2006 to $58.4 million in 2010 and from $25 million in 2008 to $121.1 million so far in 2012.

The public is starting to take notice of the increase and are very uncomfortable with it. Resolutions like AJR 22 are springing up in cities all across California and the US. Shareholders of corporations are introducing resolutions calling on the companies they own to refrain from spending. Even large public pension funds are pushing companies to come clean about their political spending.

CalPERS and CalStrs both have adopted guidelines calling on companies they invest in to disclose the money they spend for political purposes. The SEC is considering similar disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies. And this week shareholders for 3M and Bank of America will vote on a resolutions to refrain from political spending.

Now that all these companies no longer have to wonder if they can spend in politics shareholders are being forced to ask, should they? And for a lot of them the answer is no.

Unfortunately getting companies to disclose or refrain from spending is only a partial solution. As long as there are no limits on political spending there will always be an uneven playing field. But as long as the Citizens United decision is the law of the land, limits on political spending are not on the table.

AJR 22 is an important step toward getting us back to a place where the conversation is about reasonable limits on spending as opposed to the flood of money that we are all drowning in right now.

Fixing this problem and overturning the Citizens United decision is going to take a long time, and today we can take one step closer to getting the job done.

We urge your support of AJR 22.

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