Political Revolution

Controversy Inside the Anti-Corruption Movement

Anyone who is for anti-corruption, is a Good Guy in my book. Before we can restore American democracy and hammer out solutions to the problems in our nation, we must get money out of politics — otherwise, legislation overwhelmingly favors wealthy special interests (regardless of which political party is in power).

Unfortunately, even the Good Guys disagree. And sometimes they counteract one another’s progress. Wolf PAC co-founder Cenk Uygur has a rant:

Everyone Hates Citizens United. But How to Overturn?

Wolf PAC aims to overturn Citizens United by state convention calling for a constitutional amendment. Also known as Article V, the Constitution provids this pathway for states to make amendments, in case Congress fails in its duty. Think of it as Plan B; only to be used if Congress were corrupt or terribly misguided on an issue threatening our democracy.

“Wolf-PAC believes that we can no longer count on our Federal Government to do what is in the best interest of the American people due to the unfettered amount of money they receive from outside organizations to fund their campaigns.” ~ Wolf PAC

Common Cause also wants to overturn Citizens United, but they prefer Congress to amend the Constitution. They’re afraid that a state convention could be hijacked. That is, regardless of the goal or specific reason for implementing Article V, there are no legal limitations to what might be amended!

“Despite the claims of Article V convention advocates, there is not sufficient legal evidence to support the claim that a constitutional convention could be limited to one issue.” ~ Common Cause

Common Cause has written a helpful executive summary that plumbs the depths of Article V. It’s a “must-read” for background on the States vs Congress amendment debate:

The Dangerous Path | Common Cause

Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution

“There is a threat to our democracy so severe it is shocking it has gone unnoticed this long, or been dismissed as impossible by the few who know about it and should be sounding the alarm. Given the current hyper-partisan environment of U.S. politics, the power of special and corporate interests in the post-Citizens United era, the call for a convention poses a huge threat to the nation.” ~ Common Cause

Beyond Repealing Citizens United

Completely outside this debate, Represent.Us says we need not amend the Constitution at all. They help nonpartisan citizen groups get the American Anti-Corruption Act (a legislation model) on state and local election ballots. In addition, Citizens United or corporate personhood, is not the focus. Rather, the act covers lobbyists, the revolving door, gerrymandering, public-funded elections, and more!

“We’re going around Congress to put powerful reforms on the ballot, where the people can vote for them directly. (No politicians required.)” ~ Represent.Us

Standing Together to Stop Corruption

No matter which approach is used to beat political corruption, hurdles abound. Both amendment methods require getting two-thirds of states or two-thirds of Congress on board before the amendment process can proceed further. Represent.Us helped South Dakota pass a state-wide anti-corruption act last November — but almost immediately, the state’s GOP leadership managed to repeal it by calling a state-of-emergency. (You want to bet the SD Anti-Corruption Act will be on the next ballot?)

The only way we will stop political corruption is through persistence and by standing together. What are your thoughts on the conflicted anti-corruption movement? What are your recommendations for going forward?

Be aware. Be fair.

About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • Uygur, as usual, is correct. But, I believe the problem runs much deeper. There was a time in America when the public was generally aligned against institutional corruption. Today, I just don’t see that kind of principled resistance. Americans nowadays are much more interested in taking sides on any given issue, prioritizing the desired end result over the means of accomplishing it. The consequences of this ethical and moral decay are plain to see. When we lower ourselves to the level of that which we despise, we become that which we despise.

    • I agree with you, in general. The dissolution of the American Dream has something to do with it, too. Corrupt forces are crushing much of the workforce. If you can’t beat them…

      However, that’s why Bernie’s campaign was so important. It restored peoples’ confidence that they CAN do something about corruption — if we stand together, we have the power.

      People want to live with dignity. Lying and cheating for a few extra drops of trickle-down is essentially undignified.

  • I’m really disappointed in Common Cause for opposing grassroots democracy. To start off from the get-go by deny people at the local level a voice is a very bad sign and suggests their leadership is very alienated from the working class and working class interests. If there’s going to be genuine political change it will have to be led by the working class and not by organizations such as Common Cause that are supposedly acting in their interests.

    • I don’t know what to think. Did you have a chance to look at the Common Cause (CC) material on Article V? It seemed to me they may have a genuine fear that a state convention could be hijacked. In addition, Robert Reich is Board Chair of the CC National Governing Board.

      On the other hand, what stops Congress from hijacking a constitutional amendment? They load legislative bills with unrelated clauses… they change rules mid-stream, whenever it suits them…

  • Corporations are, by definition, legal fictions; the most they can hope for as regards “personhood” – with a firm basis in law – is cartoon characters.

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