SPRINGFIELD — A bipartisan group of state senators is calling on Congress to send states a constitutional amendment that would overrule the Citizens United decision and allow states to impose limits on campaign contributions, including from corporations. Yesterday dozens of grassroots activists rallied in support of Senate Joint Resolution 27 and lobbied their members for reforms they believe are needed to reduce the influence of money in politics and encourage ordinary citizens to participate in the electoral process.
“Most Illinoisans intuitively understand that when it comes to free speech, corporations and individuals aren’t created equal,” chief sponsor Sen. Heather Steans D-7th said. “But our hands are tied by a Supreme Court decision that severely limits our ability as lawmakers to take on a culture of corruption that saps our state’s democratic energies.”
“Last November, 74% of Kane County voters supported reversing the Citizens United ruling,” Sen. Karen McConnaughay R-Elgin said. “Today I’m proud to stand in agreement with my constituents. We need to tilt the balance of power back toward the people by limiting the overwhelming influence of corporate entities.”
“Self-government is not only a right but a responsibility, and we’re responsible for maintaining a system that encourages more citizens to participate rather than concentrating power in the hands of the few and the wealthy,” Sen. Daniel Biss D-Evanston said. “Turnout in municipal and off-year elections is already abysmal; people perceive the power of a single vote pales in comparison to the tremendous influence of corporate dollars.”
“I do not believe the current system is working in the best interest of the voters,” Sen. Pamela Althoff R-McHenry said. “Our electoral process is lacking in transparency and accountability at every level of government. The federal courts shouldn’t constrain state action on campaign financing at precisely the moment when we need so desperately to put our own house in order.”