House Rejects Move to Limit Money in Politics Through U.S. Constitution

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An attempt to limit corporate money in politics failed Monday at a meeting of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.

The measure (HJR 19) would have called for a national constitutional convention where all states would have debated campaign finance reform. Proponents of the resolution hoped that the convention would produce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting corporate donations in American politics. The amendment would have to be ratified by at least 38 states in order to change the constitution.

A motion to table the resolution passed 5-3.

Supporters of the proposal said they wanted to start a national conversation about money in politics and the concept of corporate personhood.

“I love the thought in here,” said Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, but he expressed concern about the convention. He said it could easily get off topic and fail to adequately address campaign finance reform.

Rep. Zachary Cook, R-Ruidoso, on the other hand didn’t like the idea.

“[The resolution] is clearly meant to limit the rights of the people,” Cook said, adding that he sees it as an attempt to curtail free speech.

Another concern, expressed by Rep. Kelly Farjado, R-Belen, was the resolution’s focus on corporations. Farjado pointed out that unions also contribute heavily to campaigns and should be regulated in the same way corporations are.

Supporters would be impacted by the decisions made at the constitutional convention even though unions are not directly mentioned in the resolution.

A number of states, including California, Colorado and Hawaii, have passed similar legislation calling for constitutional amendments to combat the Citizens United decision and limit corporate personhood.

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