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" Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth. It is now official: Just as they have adorned our athletic stadiums and multiple places of public assembly with their logos, corporations can officially put their brand on the government of the United States as well as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the fifty states."
Jeff Clements, an attorney and author, is the co-founder of Free Speech for People, a national, non-partisan campaign to challenge the creation of Constitutional rights for corporations, overturn Citizens United v. FEC, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He is the author of the Corporations Are Not People (Berrett-Koehler, 2012). Mr. Clements also is the founder of Clements Law Office, LLC, and has represented and advocated for people, businesses and the public interest since 1988. Mr. Clements served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office from early 2007 to 2009. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 attorneys and staff in law enforcement and litigation in the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, healthcare, insurance and financial services, antitrust and consumer protection. Mr. Clements also served as an Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts from 1996 to 2000, where he worked on litigation against the tobacco industry and handled a wide range of other investigations and litigation to enforce unfair trade practice, consumer protection and antitrust laws. In private practice, Mr. Clements has been a partner in the Boston law firms of Clements & Clements, LLP and Mintz Levin. He also has practiced in Maine, where he has represented clients in a variety of appeals and litigation, and in investigations and prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney's Office and Maine Attorney General's Office. In the 1990s, Mr. Clements was elected as a Trustee and President of the Board of Trustees of the Portland Water District, a public agency responsible for protecting and delivering safe drinking water and ensuring proper treatment of wastewater for 160,000 people in Portland and South Portland, Maine and several surrounding communities. He was a co-founder, officer, and director of Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental advocacy organization focused on protection and stewardship of Maine's Casco Bay. He also has served as a Trustee and President of the Board of The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. Mr. Clements graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude with a concentration in Public Law from the Cornell Law School in 1988.
Rough-- (Very rough and incomplete and fudged) Interview Notes
state attorneys general are dealing a lot with corporate personhood.
Dred Scott decision; said that African Americans have no rights, in 1856-- helped trigger the civil war. Chief justice said African Americans have no rights...
When Dred Scott said those awful words about African
What he said was something that had been true-- we had slavery-- by saying it out lout, it triggered a reaction-- framing a question of what kind of country we're going to be.
Dred Scott is notorious as the dark side of what we could have been.
The court, in Citizens United, said out loud, what is true, that corporations are untouchable.
Anyone would be naive to think that all we have to do is introduce legislation and it will fix t hings.
What we're working on is a constitutional amendment.
Constitutional amendment campaigns are about fundamental principles.
Corporations are not people. We mean human beings.
Everywhere, people are passing resolutions calling for the end to citizens united.
We're seeing it picked up by the occupy movement, very importantly.
We're now seeing a dozen amendment bills in congress.
When women were seeking the
What you can do locally-- bring to the table everything you have to offer.
You dont' have to do it alone.
corporationsarenotpeople.com. tools, draft resolutions, etc.
In LA groups from local affiliates of movetoamend got LA city council to pass resolution that Citizens United is wrong and calls for constitutional amendment that says that corporations are not people and money is not speech.
We're also seeing state legislators beginning to pass these resolutions-- NM, WA, MA
Montana-- state law-- corrupt practices act has been corporate money for 100 years.
The Montana supreme court, 5-2 held that the MT corrupt practices act is fine, will stand, and will probably go to the Supreme court. Conventional wisdom will say that SCOTUS will overturn the decision... but... it only takes one person to overturn it. Justice Kennedy relied on disclosure...
To make the Supreme court say it again, when you have 80% of americans, including Republicans, including independents, will only invigorate the constitutional campaign.
In some ways it's win-win no matter what they decide.
Puss filled wound metaphor.
Is Citizens United good or bad for the American economy?
In the business world-- small, even medium sized business-- what Citizens United does is crony capitalism, favoring the largest transnational corporations.
What happens when corporations become is untouchable and can dominate our politicians, we don't get a market economy. It's not good for jobs or the economy at large.
Rob: It seems that Citizens United allowed, through transnational corporations, a literal flood of money from outside the US into US politics.
US Chamber of commerce gets money from corporations all over the world-- said they keep money separate--- as they went on to spend over $100 million on US elections.
What we have with the big transnational corporations-- there's no such thing as "an American corporation." The biggest corporations of the world-- Goldman Sachs, Monsantos-- operate in every country. For example-- UBS-- based in Switzerland, their largest shareholder is Singapore. Spent a lot on lobbying.
News Corporation funneled millions into US Chamber-- number two shareholder is Kingdom holding company.
Rob: Don't you think that these effing five SCOTUS traitors knew that they were opening the gates to international money coming in?
Jeff: Traitor is your word. I have to go before the Supreme court...
Lewis Powell, a lawyer for the Chamber, in the sixties, laid out a corporatist plan. Six months later, Richard Nixon appointed him to SCOTUS.
There's this sort of corporatist mentality--
Thom Hartmann talks about congress ceding power to Supreme court-- where does Supreme court declare what's constitutional and what's not? Has supreme court taken this power, as an undemocratic, unelected body...
Congress needs to be much more aggressive about its own views of the constitution and we the people need to be much more assertive.
Article 5 of constitution says that the American people get the last word.
Seven times we've reversed the supreme court.
The SCOTUS needs to be much more humble and less aggressive about striking down laws...
We the people need to be much more vigilant about picking up our.
Rob: What are the biggest impediments to overcoming Citizens United:
Corporate power-- the injustice that we're trying to overturn is corporations having unchecked power. The government is not regulating these corporations with incredible money.
Another big impediment is cynicism-- that corporations are too powerful, that we can't do it.
It wasn't easy for African Americans and it wasn't easy for women to keep on pushing....
Every step of progress is deciding that its improbable but I'm going to make it happen.
Steps that need to happen? Is there a time-frame to this?
I think we're going to be surprised at how fast this turns.
I give credit to the occupy movement. IT inspired the nation in a lot of ways. It got people off the couch. We have the amendment campaign really picking up steam.
Lawrence Tribe, Harvard, was saying that constitutional Amendment is not the way to go, now he's working with Donna Edwards...
American history has always worked this way-- we saw it in the progressive era, in the 40's 50's, 60's. These shifts happen, sometimes when it looks the darkest and we get remarkable progress.
freespeechforpeople.org has people's rights amendment-- Jim McGovern, People's rights amendment bi-partisan-- says corporations are not people.
Demand that this will not stand.
Bernie Sanders and Deutch says money is not speech and gets rid of business corporations are not people...
Essentially they break down into two approaches-- overturning corporate personhood and two saying that money is not speech.
corporationsarenotpeople.com scorecard of legislation.
Why is the church not opposing corporate personhood.
Unitarians passed resolution.
All religions should weigh in. Our bill of rights is for people with souls who are mortal.
Can religions use CItizens United to their benefit?
Some churches are incorporated...
How about PACs? And wealthy people?
Used to be that PACs could not get money directly from corporations-- had to come from employee donors. Now, superPACs corporations can launder money from corporations donating directly. For example GE can donate to 501C4 which then donates to a super PAC where the money is hidden.
Buckley vs Valeo focused on money as speech.
What corporate personhood has done is give Monsanto the right to give genetically modified Bovine hormone-- that produces more milk-- illegal in most of the world. Vermont tried to require labelling. Monsanto claimed free speech rights to block this.
I don't see how you can get Republicans, who are so owned and operated by corporations
Republican party is an uneasy conglomerate of corporatists, libertarians, religious--
Polling-- Republicans dislike Citizens United-- James Madison and founding fathers would never have allowed corporations to have rights.
If you beleive that we should go back to founding values--
If you start talking to libertarians, social conservatives and religious conservatives, there's an opportunity there.
If we focus on this constitutional Amendment campaign-- it will come-- the American people want this.
In the short term, the calculus is let's take corporate money. But in the long term, it will be disastrous.
Citizens United: Virtually unanimous sense corporations have too much power, CItizens united was absolutely wrong. 24% knew what CU did.
Poll read a neutral statement of what CU did-- government can't censor spending by corporations-- numbers responded that that's not right-- 68% of republicans 82% of independents, 87% of Dems.
Asked question for support of constitutional amendment 75% support
Wants to get on Stephen Colbert show-- corporations are people campaign.
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