Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Amendment restricts free speech in the political process

Nathan Fisk Published: December 1, 2013

Supporters of Amendment 65 (which passed in 2012 advising lawmakers to restrict corporate political money) don't seem to have a problem reaping the economic and social benefits of corporations in Colorado, but they refuse to allow those same organizations a "seat at the table," when it comes to electing lawmakers and shaping public policy. Whether it's a local city councilor or a U.S. Senator, lawmakers play a significant and ongoing role in shaping the business climate throughout Colorado, including tax policy, infrastructure initiatives and commerce incentives.

While this is clearly a First Amendment free speech issue, it's also - fundamentally - a matter of fairness. Most people want corporations to prosper, hiring more people next year than the year before. The average citizen wants them to make donations to university libraries, homeless shelters, and local boy-scout troops, but then we apply a double standard by restricting them from having a voice in choosing who will best represent their interests in the political process.

Wasn't "Taxation without Representation!" the clarion cry from the lips of this country's founding fathers? When we tax corporations (which we do) and then restrict their right to speech about that very tax (which Amendment 65 advises we do), have we not compromised the values that embody our Constitutional Republic?

While my friends on the left busily protest the "evil greed of corporate America," many fail to properly account for the role of unions. According to a 2012 Wall Street Journal report, organized labor spent nearly $800 million in 2010 (to put that in context, Karl Rove's "huge" organization that was the subject of endless reporting and criticism spent a paltry $65 Million). The kicker? The campaign finance restrictions advised by Amendment 65 do not apply to organized labor and the unions.

It's a very good thing that Senator Mark Udall and his cronies have declined thus far to take up this battle. In the 2014 election, it's imperative that responsible candidates assure the voters that, whether on behalf of a business or an individual, they will protect 1st Amendment speech.

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Fisk is a business and political consultant and Managing Partner of Fisk Real Estate Group. Contact the author at nfisk@ideasforcolorado.com.

Response from Fornander:

Our First Amendment right to free speech is sacrosanct. Fisk writes about money, not speech. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had it right: "Money is property . not speech." Fisk is advocating for corporate rights, not people's rights. Fisk also has his facts wrong. Amendment 65 treats labor organizations and unions the same as corporations; Politico this week traced $325 million (not $65 million) to Rove's organizations; and Senator Mark Udall is sponsoring a constitutional amendment. Every county in Colorado - "red" and "blue"- wants a Constitutional Amendment. Without an amendment, unchecked money will continue to overwhelm peoples' voices. Doug Lamborn needs to listen to the people.

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