When the Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations were people, it allowed businesses to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns as long as they remained independent from candidates and their parties.
The ruling opened the floodgates of big money in politics.
Tuesday, Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream fame, stopped at the Ben and Jerry’s in the Issaquah Highlands, which is owned by District 41 state Sen. Mark Mullet, to show support for state Initiative 1329. If approved, it would ask Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution in favor of limiting corporate campaign contributions.
The organization, wamend.org, has until the end of June to gather 240,000 signatures to get I-1329 on the November ballot. So far, 70,000 signatures have been obtained.
Although I-1329 is a state initiative, Linda Bock of Sammamish, who was gathering signatures at Ben and Jerry’s, said there are groups of citizens nationwide who want this issue to become the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution.
“Washington will join the growing number of states who have asked Congress to draft the amendment,” Bock said. “Sixteen other states have already asked Congress to draft the amendment. They need two-thirds of the 50 states (33) to ask Congress to draft the amendment.”
Cohen said Vermont, where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is headquartered, is the first state to declare a constitutional convention to get big money out of politics. Vermont is also the first state to pass mandatory GMO labeling on food, which didn’t pass in Washington state.
“If big money is going to keep GMOs from getting passed then we’ll get this (I-1329) passed,” Cohen said.
Cohen is the president and treasurer of People Power Initiative, a Vermont based nonprofit. The organization has created stamps that say either “Stamp money out of politics,” or “Not to be used for bribing politicians.” The stamps are applied to actual $1 bills that remain in circulation. It’s legal. Stampstampede.org says “Every dollar you stamp will reach 875 people, if you stamp 5 dollars a day for a year, that’s over a million. Together, we can create a stampede that Congress can’t ignore.”
You can order a stamp at www.stampstampede.org.
Cohen had what he called the “switchblade” of rubber stamps, “the executive model” he quipped. It opens just like a switchblade.
April Atwood of Sammamish found one of the stamped $1 bills in her wallet last fall, which led her to the website. When she saw that Cohen was coming to Issaquah she decided to stop in to meet him. After all, everyone who came got a free scoop of ice cream of the flavor of their choice. Cohen was enjoying Berry, Berry, Extraordinary.
Cohen will be at the Northwest Folklife Festival today with the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stamp Mobile! People can put a dollar bill in the machine, and after it goes through an amazing journey, it spits out of the mouth of a politician. Then they have the opportunity to buy a stamp for $10. Although Cohen will only be there on Friday, the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stamp Mobile! will be at the festival all weekend.
An actual dollar bill is stamped with the message not to give in to big money in politics. The stamps can be purchased at http://www.stampstampede.org. They are legal to use.
Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with Linda Bock of Sammamish, one of the best signature gatherers the campaign has, he said.