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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Combating Big Dollar Politics


You are no doubt aware of big money in politics this year. PACS and SuperPACS are spending tens of millions of dollars in political campaigns. They are having an effect on election results.

One of the causes of this year’s exponential increase in available money is the Supreme Court decision two years ago, Citizens United vs the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in which the court ruled that corporations were people and money was speech and any limit on spending would be violating their First Amendment Rights.

That opened the floodgates and has allowed the corporations and the wealthy to basically buy the election. See Money Throws Democracy Overboard for an example.

There is a nationwide movement to overturn the results of the Supreme Court decision. There is also a movement here in Colorado to have candidates pledge not to take special interest campaign contributions. One of Colorado’s most outspoken critics of money in politics is former Colorado Majority Leader Ken Gordon.

The League of Women Voters of Larimer County will be hosting Gordon speaking about his nonprofit organization Clean Slate Now. Gordon’s topic, “Money and Politics,” takes place on Saturday, Feb. 25, 1 p.m., at All Saints Episcopal Church in Loveland.

Gordon states, “There was once a time when people thought money and politics were two separate things. But it turns out that our Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, has decided it does not believe in the separation of money and politics.”

Hear what Ken Gordon has to say about money and politics — and what we can do about it by joining him and others in this conversation.

The event is free and open to the public. LWV has made campaign finance reform a priority issue in this election year. It is in the spirit of education about this important topic that we offer the chance for public dialogue and increased understanding of the issue as it applies to the current state of our democracy.

If Gordon speaks as well as he writes, we will be spellbound. Here is Gordon’s latest letter to the media on the subject.


Last week, I was in a debate on money in politics. A friend asked how someone could take the other side. “What do they say?”

“They say it is a freedom issue,” I told him. “I worked hard and made money, and I should be able to spend it how I want. If I support a candidate who will be good for my values and my business, why should the government tell me that I can only give that candidate $2000?”

It got me thinking. Those who favor limits on campaign spending need to acknowledge that there is another side. We are reducing the freedom of those who want to spend more. This doesn’t resolve the issue though. We limit freedom when there is another value we want to protect. You can’t drive through a red light. You have to pay taxes. You may be drafted during a time of war. In most states, gay people can’t get married.

So what is the value that we are protecting when we say there should be limits on campaign spending?

It is political equality. The democratic theory is that each citizen should have roughly the same say in how the country is run. It is what Jefferson meant when he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ….”

Then the question arises whether this equality is sufficient to interfere with someone’s freedom.

It is a good question. Not everyone would answer it in the same way. The Supreme Court seems to split 5-4 when it comes up.

How would you decide this? In 1776 when Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, we were a ruled by a King. This idea that “men were created equal” was considered absurd in most of the world. Political equality was revolutionary. But it motivated men to die at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and Yorktown.

You may have heard that “your freedom to swing your arm stops at the end of my nose.” That means that your freedom exists so long as it doesn’t harm me.

Does it harm me when a billionaire or a billion dollar corporation spends extravagantly on political campaigns?

Well, yes it does. It takes away my proportional political equality. It means that the billionaire gets more than his share of political power, and I get less.

This is why we started to support candidates who don’t take special interest campaign contributions. With the horribly mistaken decisions by the Supreme Court saying that “money is speech” and that “corporations and unions are people,” supporting candidates who refuse to be influenced by big money contributions is the way to fight for democracy.

As a candidate in eight elections I saw how obsessed candidates are with money. I saw the lengths they would go to please big contributors. However, there are a few courageous candidates who refuse to be influenced by the money.

On our website is a list of those candidates. Please forward this to your list. And if you get this forwarded to you, please forward this again, to create an un-ending chain of forwarding that will help change the world…

If you get this sent to you, go to our website and sign up for email updates regarding the candidates who don’t take special interest money.

In terms of taking action for democracy, forwarding an email is easier than fighting a revolution. Given the power of the internet to assist in communication and organizing, it may end up being as effective.

Thanks for your help.

Ken Gordon

Come listen and discuss the issues of campaign financing with Ken Gordon on Saturday, February 25, 1 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 3448 Taft Avenue in Loveland.

Read also the Recorder article “Government for Sale?.” Learn how you can become involved.

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