Janesville, Beloit pass campaign finance resolution

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Elliot Hughes
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Janesville and Beloit voters enthusiastically supported a referendum Tuesday calling on lawmakers to amend the U.S. Constitution to reform campaign finance laws.

The constitutional amendment referenced in the nonbinding referendum would overturn the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case that allowed corporations and other organizations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns in the form of advertisements and other means.

About three-fourths or more of voters in Janesville and Beloit supported the resolution— 83 percent of 17,650 voters in Janesville and 74 percent of 7,215 voters in Beloit.

The cities join several dozen Wisconsin communities who have passed the resolution, either by a common council vote or a referendum.

The 2010 ruling marked a new era in political campaigns with a flood of increased spending. It also set off enduring debates about whether organizations should have the same freedoms as individuals and whether financial contributions are tantamount to free speech.

In Janesville, the resolution made its way onto the ballot at the urging of the South Central Wisconsin United to Amend group, which lobbies communities across the state to pass the resolution.

A member of the group said in March that 10 other communities in Wisconsin would consider the resolution Tuesday.

The resolution states that only human beings—not organizations—are endowed with constitutional rights and that spending is not equivalent to speech.

The resolution also directs the clerks of Janesville and Beloit to forward copies of the 295-word resolution to state and federal representatives with instructions to enact legislation to advance its goals.

Last updated: 11:31 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

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