This is the message that Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s, sent out to VPIRG members urging action on a bad bill to put more money in politics.
Why I’m asking for a veto of S.82
We might not agree on politics or religion, heck we might not agree on Chunky Monkey or Phish Food, but I bet we see eye-to-eye on one of the biggest threats to our democracy – Big Money in elections.
That’s why I’m writing today. Just hours ago, our state Senate voted to make it legal for corporations, PACs and wealthy individuals to throw even more money into Vermont elections.
Yup, you heard that right. A “reform” bill to raise contribution limits. And that’s why I’m proud to stand with VPIRG to call on Gov. Shumlin to veto this bill.
Listen, I’m not going to beat around the bush. It’s a whole new world since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision unleashed waves of special interest cash like never before. Remember the onslaught of negative ads purchased by Vermont’s first million-dollar Super PAC in the last election? I sure do, but I don’t think the answer to that problem is MORE special interest money in the system.
In fact, I kind of like VPIRG’s idea of requiring major funders of Super PACs (those giving more than 50% of the group’s money) to appear in every ad the Super PAC buys. Let’s make them take personal responsibility for the ads their money is buying.
The one thing we can’t afford to do is give corporations, PACs and very wealthy folks any more influence over how you and I elect our leaders in Montpelier. It’s not only unnecessary, it’s just wrong.
How do I know this bill (S.82) is worth stopping? Because it would:
• Double the amount of money that corporations, PACs and wealthy individuals can give to statewide candidates from $2,000 to $4,000
• Quintuple the amount that PACs, corporations and the rich can give to political parties from $2,000 to $10,000
• Allow unlimited contributions from political parties to candidates
• Fail to substantially improve disclosure requirements (adding just two new reports over a two-year period and filing to collect occupation or employer info)
• Do nothing to stop corporations from giving directly to candidates, and
• Fail to require fat cat funders of Super PACs to appear in their own ads
For the sake of Vermont’s democracy, this bill is worth fighting. If you’re like me, and you support curbing Big Money in politics, know this: real campaign finance reform starts with Gov. Shumlin vetoing S.82. Thanks for taking the time to consider this. I hope you’ll send that message right away!
Co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s
PS—Our system of democracy works if we’re able to elect leaders who are willing to rise above self-interest and work on behalf of the common good. But opening the door for the huge new campaign contributions from corporations, PACs and fat cats is only going to make Montpelier look more like Washington—and that’s something I just can’t support. I hope you’ll join VPIRG and me, and help flood Gov. Shumlin’s inbox with messages asking him to stand up for Vermont’s democracy and VETO S.82.