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Paul Ryan's Choice: Constituents or Koch Brothers?

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Source: The Nation


How's this for irony:

When the City of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was preparing to formally petition Congress to take the necessary actions to get corporate money out of politics and to restore grassroots democracy, the congressman who represents the community was meeting secretly with the Koch brothers to plot election strategies and policy agendas.

Kenosha is the largest city in Wisconsin's first congressional district, which Congressman Paul Ryan has represented since 1999 -- thanks to gerrymandered district lines and heavy infusions of cash from out-of-state special interests. With Congress out of session for the August recess and Ryan expected to head home to meet with constituents, members of the Kenosha City Council decided to deliver a message. They voted overwhelmingly to ask Ryan and other Wisconsin representatives "to amend the Constitution to bar corporate wealth from unduly influencing elections."

That's not a particularly radical request.

Sixteen states and roughly 500 communities have petitioned Congress to support a constitutional amendment to restore the power of the people -- through their federal, state and local representatives -- to place limits on the influence of big money, especially corporate money, in American politics. The official calls from states across the country, and from cities such as Kenosha, come in response to the High Court's decision to remove restrictions on corporate spending to buy elections, which capped a series of rulings that undermined limits on the power of wealthy Americans to dominate the political and governing processes of the nation with unprecedented infusions of campaign money.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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