Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service-OH
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(11/07/13) COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two Ohio communities are taking a stand against corporate political contributions.
Both Cleveland Heights and Defiance voters passed local ordinances on Tuesday informing their elected leaders that they want a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to curb corporate power, and ending the practice of political contributions being the equivalent of free speech.
Greg Coleridge, director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), says there is a huge disconnect between what people feel is needed and the public policies being enacted.
“That disconnect has to do with those we elect to public service being more responsive to the interests of wealthy political individual contributors, as well as major corporations,” he says.
The measure passed with about 77 percent of the vote in Cleveland Heights and 67 percent in Defiance. Both were the result of earlier petition campaigns organized by the national Move to Amend coalition.
It is working to reverse Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision giving corporations the right to make unlimited political contributions.
Coleridge says this issue has hit close to home for many Ohioans, with the influx of out-of-state gas and oil drillers that he says have trumped local laws protecting residents and the environment.
“We have a democracy problem of major proportions that have to do with these inalienable rights to corrupt and pervert public policy,” he says. “And the oil and gas fracking issue is just one many, many examples.”
More than 500 communities nationwide have enacted either resolutions or ballot initiatives with similar language, including ballot measures in Brecksville and Newburgh Heights, Ohio, last year.