Vermont first state to call for constitutional convention to get money out of politics

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, January 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Public Citizen.

Activists rally for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Public Citizen

On Friday Vermont became the first state to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which precipitated a flood of cash into politics.

Mike Monetta, 37, drove from Boston with a colleague and spent more than 10 hours Thursday in the House gallery waiting for the lower chamber to vote on the Senate-passed resolution, which — as lawmakers race to wrap things up before the end of the biennium — was taken up at the end of a marathon floor session.

He was back in the gallery Friday morning to see Vermont’s resolution get final approval from the House. Monetta is the organizing director for Wolf PAC, which he described as a political action committee to end all political action committees.

“We exist for only one purpose and that’s to get a 28th amendment to get all money out of politics,” he explained.

Wolf PAC was founded by Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks online newscast.

“(Uygur) has this thing where in almost every story he keeps coming back to ‘whoever has more money wins,’” Monetta said. “But he didn’t want to just be negative, he wanted there to be a way to fix it.”

Legal challenges are an unlikely solution, as the Supreme Court has set precedent in a number of cases that equates money with free speech, Monetta said.

There are only two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution, either through an act of Congress ratified by the states or by a convention of states acting on their own.

Wolf PAC concluded that the federal government is too awash in campaign cash from outside groups to take action, so the organization is launching campaigns to push state legislatures to call for an end to corporate personhood and public financing of all elections, according to the organization’s website.

There are 10 states currently considering similar resolutions to the one passed by Vermont, according to Monetta. It would take 34 states to trigger a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, and 38 to approve an amendment.

States could appoint delegates that are local or statewide officeholders, or a state could choose to elect its delegates. Forty-nine states have passed resolutions calling for a convention to propose some 700 different amendments.

Earlier in the session it appeared there was no appetite in Montpelier for such a resolution, but a call to Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, from one of his constituents got the ball rolling, he said.

“Dr. Steven Berry is a minister in Manchester,” Sears said. “He contacted me, and I’ve known him for several years, and we talked about it, and the more I heard, it made sense to me.”

Sears said he decided to put the resolution back on the “fast track” by holding hearings on the topic and eventually bringing it to the Senate floor for a vote where it passed 25-2.

“I think it’s an important resolution,” Sears said. “Congress isn’t going to act, and we’ve got to do something to get this country back under control.”

When the resolution crossed over to the House side and a hearing was held in the Government Operations Committee, S. Burlington farmer Benjamin Brown made an emotional plea to lawmakers to be the first state to call for a convention.

“What am I going to tell my children, what am I going to be able to say to them about this democracy?” Brown asked lawmakers.

“Vermont has an opportunity to lead right now … it’s not left and right, it’s an issue of democracy,” he said. “Please allow the conversations to happen.”

Days later, the House followed the Senate and passed JRS 27, becoming the first state to call for a convention to amend the Constitution by reversing the Citizens United decision.

Several lawmakers raised concerns that the scope of a convention could not be limited and participating states could bring forward amendments for discussion that many would find unpalatable, such as outlawing abortion.

But those concerns did not dampen the House’s enthusiasm and the resolution passed 95-43.

“I see this resolution as an opportunity to kick-start a movement that I hope will spread throughout the country and let people become aware of the real problems we have with the influence of money on elections and on our public policy,” said Rep. Mike Yantachka, D-Charlotte.

Correction: The spelling of Dr. Steven Berry’s last name was corrected May 6 at 12:03 p.m.

Morgan True

Comments

  1. Chris Roy :

    The corporations aren’t people meme makes for a pithy refrain at populist rallies, but do folks realize that this means corporations or other non-human entities that own newspapers would have no First Amendment rights of free speech, or that a small business could have its property taken by eminent domain without fair compensation under the Fifth Amendment, or that taxes could be imposed against companies without due process of law. Is that the kind of nation we want to live in?

    • Joshua Comden :

      Only humans get human rights. Non-human entities need not apply.

      • Humans have a First Amendment right to assemble and to petition government. When they do so, they necessarily become “entities.” What this resolution does is eliminate citizens’ rights to organize. It’s is an incumbent protection measure that puts the rules for participating in politics in the hands of incumbent politicians. It is a tremendously bad idea.

        • Joshua Comden :

          To your first point: Point taken.

          To your second point: No where in the resolution language does it eliminate the citizens’ right to organize.

        • Walter Carpenter :

          ” What this resolution does is eliminate citizens’ rights to organize. It’s is an incumbent protection measure that puts the rules for participating in politics in the hands of incumbent politicians. ”

          It does not eliminate the citizens right to organize. What it does say, though not explicitly, is that citizens also have a right to a government not bought by the wealthy for the wealthy such as the conservative supreme court has made it with citizens united.

    • Anthony Cahill :

      That’s ignorant of the fact that the press has freedom as per the first amendment. We’re asking corporations and unions to get out of the political process and to set up publicly financed, fair and open elections. We’re banning extortion and not speech. Our goal has nothing to do with taxes or opinion. We just want the peoples opinion and vote to count rather than to be bought by the highest bidder.

      • Joshua Comden :

        I agree!

      • I’m curious Anthony and Joshua. Can you tell me which office holders in Vermont are holding their seats because they were “bought by the highest bidder?”

        • Joshua Comden :

          Well, us average citizens are not privileged to that information. But an office holder that was “bought by the highest bidder” would satisfy any of the following categories:

          -gives more access (time and attention) to those who contribute the most to their campaign
          -gives more access to those who give gifts
          -benefits from PAC spending
          -changed a political position because of possible PAC spending against them

          If any of the office holders in Vermont fit into any of those categories above, then they were “bought by the highest bidder”.

          An officer holder should only have one special interest and that is of their constituents. An office holder should give equal access to any of their constituents regardless of campaign contributions and voting record.

          • Speculation is not fact, Joshua. If you read the Citizen’s United case, you would know the issue turned on lack of evidence (facts) that corporate financing had resulted in corrupt politicians being elected. Point me to one person in Vermont who, in your opinion (hopefully based on fact) that was elected “by the highest bidder.” Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Peter Welch, Peter Shumlin, Phil Scott, Jim Condos, Beth Pearce, Doug Hoffer? Which one(s)? Seems to me there will always be a rich person, whether in a corporation or not, using money to influence politics. That will not change with this constitutional amendment.

          • Joshua Comden :

            I agree that speculation is not fact. It very well could be that none of the office holders fit into any of the categories I listed above.

            Now as to finding the evidence to whom was elected “by the highest bidder” is a very difficult task. We would have to compare constituent opinion to the opinion of the campaign contributors (weighted based on amount contributed to the campaign) and compare all of this to the voting record of the elected office holder. Money spent in a campaign by a PAC would also need to be taken into account towards whatever issues the PAC is fighting for. All of this together to see which had the strongest correlation. Although correlation does not mean causation, it would make you question the integrity of the office holder (assuming the voting record went in favor of the money).

            A study was already done in this manner, but not for a specific office holder. It was done in the aggregate. http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf
            They showed for their sample that Policy Outcomes could be predicted by the interests of the Economic Elite 76% of the time, predicted by the interests of the Interest Groups 56%, but being predicted by the interests of the Average Citizen only 3% of the time. (Page 27)

            In 2008, the 93% of the candidates who spent the most money won their election.
            http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/11/money-wins-white-house-and.html
            (I realize that the argument against this would be that the most popular candidate attracts the most money. But I would surmise that the candidate that supports the interests of the Economic Elite and Interest Groups would attract the most money.)

            As to your point that there will always be a rich person using money to influence politics; I would say maybe. But the idea of this amendment would be to limit their avenues of influence. Actually, the resolution doesn’t give any language that should be in the amendment, only what the goal should be. The specific language and manner to limit or stop the influence of money would be for the convention to decide.

          • “Well, us average citizens are not privileged to that information.”

            Actually… We kind of do. This is a great start at transparency, though I’m not sure why more citizens aren’t clued into this site and others like it:
            http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator

            It shows who voted for what, and how much they got paid.

          • Joshua Comden :

            Wow! That website is amazing! I never knew about it. Now all we need to know is the spending of the PACs and which candidate they support and who funds them.

          • William Tomlinson :

            Sen. Joe Benning makes an important point: the wealthy will always use their money to influence politics. We can use this amendment to make that more difficult, but the fact remains. We can’t lose sight of that fact. We must go further than amending the constitution: we must redistribute wealth away from the billionaires to truly live in a democracy.

        • Jamie Carter :

          You can’t ever know, although cozy relationships can be telling. Let’s look at Peter Shumlin as an example and his relationship with Mr. Blittersdorf.

          Not only does Blittersdorf contribute the max allowed to Shumlin but he went so far as to start a super PAC to help out. In return his company is awarded the majority of clean energy development grants, was rewarded with the closure of VY, and routinely influences the governor who then directs his minions in the Legislature.

          Lets take a look at some newsworthy points :
          “Companies founded by, and linked to, Burlington renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf received $4.3 million in tax credits for solar projects across Vermont. The total pool of available tax credits was about $7 million.”- Rutland Herald

          “The press had done a good job shedding some light on the $8000 donation to Peter Shumlin by big time donor David Bilttersdorf, Shumlin’s appointment of Bilttersdorf to the Clean Energy Development Board,…”- True North Radio Host Rob Roper

          So is their a politician that has been bought by the highest bidder? Tough to say but Shumlin and Blittersdorf very clearly “exchange” favors.

      • Chip Bresett :

        Publicly funded campaigns means I have to donate money to a candidate I don’t support. Leave it to socialist Vermont to start this idiocy. If money buys elections, explain why the Kochs couldn’t keep Obama from re-election. This is a smoke screen and class warfare. Who do you think owns and runs corporations? PEOPLE.

        • Joshua Comden :

          In the resolution there is no language about publicly funded campaigns.

          Money did buy the Obama re-election; the Kochs just happened to not be the highest bidder.

          Yes, people run corporations but not all of them are US citizens.

        • David Glotfelty :

          A minority of people run companies. No minority should not have an advantage like the one assigning business personhood. My company does not speak for me. Businesses only exist in our mind. Business laws protects their rights. Unlike real people, some businesses are exempt from federal laws unless they accept federal monies. Unlike REAL people. Anyone claiming money doesn’t run politics is naïve or a liar. Politicians spend most of their time begging for money. I’ve never received a political call that was about issues, but I get them all the time looking for money.

    • evan neumann :

      Red Herring argument. Before Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad corporations had these rights. In fact, many court rulings in favor of free press occurred before the corporation personhood verbiage was added by that railroad baron.

    • Once we amend our Constitution to put it back to what the Framers intended, corporations, including unions would have privileges, rather than human rights. Things would go on much the same, except Hobby Lobby won’t be able to refuse birth control to it’s employees based on it’s religious beliefs. This baloney about businesses not having a say, eminent domain, unfair taxes is all a smoke screen put up by those that are getting rich by milking the government. We need to get off the couch and get out in the streets. We need to end this political system of legalized bribery. The country in in peril. We need to act now, before it gets worse.

      • Jason Wells :

        If you don’t like Hobby Lobby’s health care plan here is an idea. Don’t work for them. Problem solved no new legislation needed.

        • Kathy Nelson :

          As usual, you have it backward, Jason. If Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to respect the legal rights of all employees then they should be put out of business.

          • Jason Wells :

            Wow Kathy just when did we get the right to tell our employers just what type of coverage they must supply? Just what legal rights are you even referring to? This case has nothing to do with the rights of employes it was between the Fed. Govt. and Hobby Lobby over their claimed right not to provide certain types of contraceptives as mandated by Obamacare.

            As an employee of any business large or small you have no right by law to any type of health care plan whatsoever that is provided by that company. During the recent Supreme Court arguments on this the Hobby Lobby Atty. received a suggestion from the court that Hobby Lobby should just stop providing coverage and let the employees get it on an exchange. Meaning employees do not have a right to specific health care plans from their employers. Otherwise dropping coverage would not have been an option.

            Employees/Americans are now mandated to have health care enforced by levy of higher taxes. Tax Laws, Civil Mandates and Codes do not grant rights period. However just in case I got it backward again I rechecked the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution and just couldn’t find where rights to healthcare were enumerated.

            If as I do you want healthcare to be a “right” medicaid for all or what have you for all legal citizens then perhaps you should look into getting involved in the push for an Article V Convention where we very well could push for an amendment to have this “right”. Passing some bogus health care bill that is in the thousands pages long written by corporations and a corrupt govt. is gonna get us nowhere closer to getting that “right”.

    • Daniel Hicks :

      Under your reasoning, why doesn’t everyone just form their own personal corporation, and get all the advantages at no expense? Limited liability, tax deductions, etc.

      People retain their personal rights when they incorporate, but the corporations *must* have limited rights because of the advantages they gain.

    • VERMONT HAS ALREADY DONE THIS, IN APRIL 2012. IT WAS THE THIRD STATE TO DO IT. My state, IL, was 14th. 16 states, plus D.C. have passed these resolutions so far.

      • Joshua Comden :

        Really! I would be really interested to see it! Do you happen to remember what it was called? :)

      • Peggi Erickson :

        Yes, and we are trying to get it on the Nov ballot in Washington State. We will be the 17th state… or since Vermont did this… maybe the 18th state to ask for a constitutional amendment to say “corporations are not people”, “money is not free speech” and the government does have the right to regulate the $$$ going into politics.

    • Drue Mathies :

      Actually, this would give individuals a voice beyond what they now enjoy. With the corporate buying of elections, the voices of the individuals are not heard. This in no way concerns laws of imminent domain. Who told you that was an issue? Newspapers would always be free to editorialize. This concerns funding. Do corporations have the right to fund editorials? I think not.

    • Mike Morales :

      Chris are you saying that because a corporation can’t give money to a political canidate they lose their right to free speech? I fail to see the corralation.

  2. Timothy Corcoran :

    Read Seven Days about money and PACs.
    I have made many copies & they are going
    like hot cakes.

  3. Jason Wells :

    A good start however we need a convention for much more than this one issue. How about term limits for all federal politicians and judges for a start.

    • Laura Prezio :

      Knowing that Senators like Wellston, Sanders, Grayson , Andrews, etc are there says that term limits put greater power in the hands of the clerical unelected staff…That still goes on now…Making the consequences for wrong doing a must for everyone in the nation without loosing any baseline Civil Rights like voting but which limits the ability to financially impact anyone through service or collection of donation. Such a limit makes the gamble less dramatic both in potential benefits or consequences for whistle blowers.

  4. I am a little nervous about a constitutional convention because it could get out of control. I am, however, in favor of ending the legal fiction of corporate personhood.

    I feel that VT legislators are being disingenuous in passing this resolution. VSA 1 sec 128 states “”Person” shall include any natural person, corporation, municipality, the state of Vermont or any department, agency or subdivision of the state, and any partnership, unincorporated association or other legal entity.” If the legislature is serious about ending corporate personhood, maybe they should start right here at home. I have written to several legislators about this and brought it to Bernie Sanders attention but so far all I have heard in response is the proverbial crickets chirping.

    • Joshua Comden :

      To your first point: There have already been 233 Conventions to amend individual State Constitutions with zero runaways. Also even if an amendment came out that was unpopular/polarizing/controversial , it would still need to be ratified by 38 states.

      To your second point: I agree.

      • Jason Wells :

        Joshua, although I am in full support of an article 5 convention there on now way have been 233 I think it is more like only a handful. But yes you are right any amendments would need 38 or 34 states to ratify I cant recall the exact number at the moment.

        • Joshua Comden :

          I found an old document giving a list of state constitutional conventions from 1776 – 1916
          http://www.article-5.org/file.php/1/Articles/StateConstitutionalConventions.pdf
          There seems to be a large number.

          • Jason Wells :

            Best I can tell the document you linked is mostly related to state conventions. To the best of my knowledge a true Article V Convention requested by the States has never been done before in our history. The founders gave us this provision as an all else fails device as an end run around Congress I call it the “break seal and pull in case of tyranny” lever. Congress has no say in the matter if enough States apply for a convention thankfully as it could be the end of their ways and they would/will go kicking and screaming when they hear the words term limits!

          • Joshua Comden :

            Correct. There has never been an Article V Convention before. I was just pointing out that states have had their own constitutional conventions to amend their constitutions with no runaways.

        • Peggi Erickson :

          34 to get it considered, 38 to ratify it

    • David Dickert :

      Is there not a way to summons that request to a court ?

      • Peggi Erickson :

        The supreme court already ruled on Citizens United and McCutcheon. There is no higher court, which is why an amendment is needed to over ride the Supreme Court decisions.

    • Harry Sherman :

      Good, Gary. If this is true, then VT needs to clean up its’ own house first, if it is to have a credible stance for a national amendment proposal.

    • Elsie Gilmore :

      Wow! I did not know that about our constitution! Doh!

  5. Peter Everett :

    How about calling for :
    1.Balanced budget amendment
    2.Term limit amendment (would be nice at the state level also)
    These two may help bring back some semblance of sanity to this country. Then again, maybe not.

    • Tom Haviland :

      If we’d had a balanced budget requirement in the 1940s we would have lost WW2

      • Peter Everett :

        In a balanced budget amendment there would be a clause stipulating deficit spending ONLY in times of declared war. That is in the amendment already proposed. There is no other means or way to allow for deficit spending, unless a Constitutional Ammendment is passed. You know, like the repeal of prohibition.

    • Laura Prezio :

      No they wouldn’t…With all due respect. They just add power to those behind the scene in clerical capacity.

      How about eliminating the FED…and setting stricter rules on banks like a super new “Glass. Steegle”. How about making changes to banking and accounting rules and laws impossible and subject to transpartent discussion such that every citizen is educated how the system works and explaining exactly how it may be corrupted. Knowing the temptations, consequences, of banks that can enslave our rights as they currently do is thus a must for our citizens who are the most essential in a representative leadership.

      • David Dear :

        It’s a self-perpetuating system that makes it difficult to correct. The political “leaders” are not compelled to enact strict regulations on the banks as long as the banks send lobbyists to pad their finance campaigns.
        As for citizens, most cast their votes based on a) political ideological or party alignment or b) sound bites fed through the media. The more money dumped into a campaign, the more sound bites can be purchased to bludgeon the ears of citizens that don’t want to think too hard about who they’re voting for.
        Lastly, if citizens are educated on the shenanigans of the smoke-and-mirror system of the banking “industry” they will still ask “But can I still borrow a bunch of money I have not yet earned so I can buy something I don’t need?” If the answer is yes, the transparency presented might as well be opaque.

  6. Very dangerous ground here. At these Conventions anything can be tacked on to these Bills. Altho I would like to see Citizens United shut down, I fear the possible loss of individual Citizen Rights.

    Has this risen out of the extreme Left, constantly trying to diminish the power of the people? Anything could be tacked on to these amendments, the Feds work in strange ways.

    This sounds like “grass roots” but is it?

    • Joshua Comden :

      To your first point: Sure anything could be tacked on. But any amendment suggested by the convention would need to be ratified by 38 states.

      To your second point: There is nothing in this resolution about diminishing the power of the people.

  7. Here’s what Uygur thinks about Benghazi:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/02/young-turks-cenk-uygur-blasts-gop-and-fox-over-benghazi-fck-you-move-the-fck-on/

    I think we need to learn what really happened in Benghazi, being that Hillary said, “at this point, what difference does it make”. Also, why was back-up ordered to “stand down”?

    Uygur seems to be a bit confused about in what order issues need to be addressed. And to think the Dems want this issue to disappear.

    Exactly who is he working for/with?

    • Kathy Nelson :

      I have absolutely no use for Cenk Uygur, he fell into the the bottomless pit of left-hand corruption long ago and is nothing more than a propaganda tool and a political mobster.

      Why is Vermont again hooting that it’s being the “first” at something again? The call for a constitutional convention is old news:

      http://preservefreedom.org/article-v-constitutional-convention-guaranteed/

      With Vermont’s present flock of legislators the only thing we can hope for is more stupid regulations on how long you can idle your car.

      VT can’t grow up and get past Dillon’s Rule and can’t even elect a governor who doesn’t put their own self interest above personal gain. VT has already sold out it’s energy infrastructure to Canada, it’s a wonder we aren’t even now being surrounded by heavily armed language police out of Quebec.

    • Joshua Comden :

      There is nothing in this resolution about Uygur’s opinion about Benghazi.

      • But, but, but he’s coming into our State, an outsider pushing for something we don’t completely understand, at least I don’t and many others included. It sounds good but who is this guy? You can’t put toothpaste back into the tube, it would be good to know the back ground of who is lurking in our State and what is the real intention.

        Sure this article is not about Benghazi but did you see how he is trying to deflect the bullet for those under investigation in the Benghazi debacle? Ambassador Stevens deserves better.

        • Joshua Comden :

          I understand your fear of outsiders coming into your state and pushing their agenda.

          But this has already happened. Any liberal elitist from anywhere in the world can come into any state, any district, and any municipality and spend as much as they want through PACs. This resolution is meant to be a way for you, the constituent, to get equal access to your elected legislator without having to share that access with outside groups/people. That legislator is supposed to represent his/her constituents and not his/her campaign contributors.

          • But, but, but our Leaders just made it legal, in this session, to bring outside sources into our State. WHAT! Now their going to vote for a Constitutional Convention to ban it? WHAT!

          • Joshua Comden :

            Oh, i didn’t know that. Do you happen to remember what the bill’s name or number was that allowed that allowed for outside sources to come in?

    • Peter Liston :

      Sure. And let’s keep investigating the birth certificate. And what Hillary had for dinner last night. Lets keep Daryl Issa busy investigating all of the Clinton conspiracy theories.

      • Jon Culligan :

        You forgot the ‘Sure, dude – that was, like, over two years ago’.

      • Jim Barrett :

        We know the Clintons were really good, honest people and only comitted perjury while IN OFFICE! Why the birth issue was hidden by Obama I will never understand ,and his past records were never to be seen……amazing.

  8. Wendy wilton :

    If you want money out of politics it needs to be all money. Remember more than $100,000 came to VT in 2012 to push single payer and support candidates to do so. Remember that the renewable energy lobby and business owners in the solar and wind renewable businesses did the same here and will again. Think what these groups have gotten from the current administration and the legislative minority. Huge returns for their ‘investment’. This truth works both ways folks!

    • Joshua Comden :

      Yes! This resolution is meant to get rid of all money including liberal money and conservative money. The only opinion that should count is that of the constituents regardless of money spent on a campaign.

  9. Ross Ten :

    How about one item per bill? Instead of adding all of these different elements to a few hundred page bills, let’s vote on one thing at a time!

  10. I think that allowing ONLY individual US citizens to contribute to political causes would solve all of the above problems about political finance

  11. VT was the 3rd state to do this, in April, 2012.
    How did this get by you? 16 states, plus D.C., have done this already.

  12. Constitutional Conventions have been called for for years, from many States:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/02/rare-option-forcing-congress-to-meet-change-constitution-gains-momentum/

    If a Convention comes into being we don’t know what the outcome would be. At that Convention many many things could be changed, every State having their pet amendment. So, what would those Politicians, who are self serving, bring to the table, in the dark of the night, in a back room, with secret hand shakes?

    • Joshua Comden :

      Yes, they have been called for many years but so far none have made it past the 34 state threshold.

      But whatever comes out of the convention would need to be ratified by 38 states, which is a very high bar.

  13. Jim Barrett :

    Always interesting to hear the democrats complain of money in politics while the governor sits on a million bucks for his attempted re-election in Nov. Oh yes, will the democrats give up their stranble hold on union money? I think not.

    • Richard Ratico :

      Always interesting to hear right wingers compare money from a very large group comprised of many, many working people (unions) compared to money from a very small number of wealthy board members (corporations) busily downsizing those same working folks.

    • Joshua Comden :

      They idea is to get all money of politics, which includes corporate and union money. No where in the language of the resolution does it give any protection to unions.

    • Dart Everett :

      AND,
      Pat Leahy, with 99% name recognition in VT, raised almost $5,000,000 in his last election bid against an unknown who couldn’t raise $500,000. Most of it came from lawyers and Hollywood.
      Bernie Sanders, with 99% name recognition in VT raised over $7,000,000 in his last election big against an unknown who couldn’t raise $500,000. Most of it came from unions.
      Who owns whom?

      • Paul Richards :

        Pretty good success from a state that has relatively low union participation. Gee, I wonder if these reps are really representing the majority of Vermonters or the unions who continue to assault us while these people are in power?
        As if harry reid and nancy pelosi were not enough, Vermont is a fine example of why we need term limits. These people don’t represent America or Vermont.

  14. Election financing reform can be effected state level through citizens/voters groups’ petitions and pressure put on legislators. Organizing the necessary support is a different color horse.

    Constitutional conventions are a whole ‘nother ball game. Once convened, the entire constitution is up for grabs and open to a myriad of mischief.

    Be careful what you wish for… ya just might get it — and more.

    • Joshua Comden :

      I’m sure it would be very difficult to conjure up 38 states that would ratify anything too radical…. like a whole new constitution. The majority of Americans (I believe) have a great respect for the Constitution. It has also been amended 27 times without a whole rewriting, although not through the same avenue as the one proposed here.

      Many states have had their own constitutions amended through conventions and nothing too radical came out from them.

      • Jason Wells :

        Joshua, As much as I fully support an Article V Convention you seem to forget our history. The convention that created our current Constitution was called originally to amend the Articles Of Confederation. Simply put at the convention they wrote the new constitution which did NOT have the full support of the States and so they changed the rules as to how many States were needed to ratify. 13 down to 9 States if my memory serves me correctly.

        Our precious Bill of Rights was not even part of it at that time. It took riots in Rhode Island and threats of secession to provide those rights. Please note many of those rights were in the Articles of Confederation. There is hardly a mention of those facts today and it is very unfortunate so many spout out lines from the Federalist Papers but it seems very few have read or even know of the Anti-Federalist Papers or movements of the time. Some very chilling thoughts in those writings that almost seems as if they could have been written yesterday.

        • Joshua Comden :

          O wow! My school never taught us about that. We just jumped from The Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 and somehow the Articles of Confederation didn’t work so they made the Constitution and everyone went home happy.

          So at what point did we as a nation move from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution? I mean, were the Articles of Confederation still the law of the land until the Constitution was ratified or was there a time of lawlessness?

          I would hope that if something too radical came from an Article V Convention, that we too would riot for our rights. (But maybe we have become too passive as a society).

          • Jason Wells :

            “O wow! My school never taught us about that.” I am not surprised at that one tiny bit! Pretty sad really but not surprised. The importance of learning the history behind the foundations of this nation can not be understated. Schools should also be teaching just how fearful and scared of govt. powers many of the founders were. Once you understand that it sheds so much more light just why most of the amendments in our Constitution were made to protect US from the Govt. We got lost somewhere on the way from then to now.

            Our Current govt. started on March 4th 1789 and yes the Articles of Confederation were used up until that day.

            I also hope a convention wont turn into a mess where we loose more rights or give the govt. even more powers but heck we are not getting anywhere now are we?

          • @Jason Wells
            “I also hope a convention wont turn into a mess where we loose more rights or give the govt. even more powers but heck we are not getting anywhere now are we?”

            When you begin a journey with no clear destination in mind, how in the world do you decide where you’re going?

            Staying put in a storm makes sense if you’re in a sheltered and secure place. Keep your weather eye peeled.

            “why most of the amendments in our Constitution were made to protect US from the Govt. ”

            So, what about the one that has enslaved us to the IRS/Federal Reserve banksters? Yes, I mean Article XVI. If you understand the system you realize that under it there is zero hope of our ever getting out of, repaying, the debt held by the Federal Reserve banksters as long as they have the power to continue creating the “money” that they pay to themselves as interest on the debt to themselves that they have created.
            Quite the Ponzi Scheme.

  15. Naveen Chawla :

    Every proposal must be voted upon in questionnaire-form (line-item). It would be a disgrace to block the passing of something which 3/4 of the states wanted just because of the objections of a few people blocking it from coming up for a vote.

  16. Ben Brown :

    Hi all, I’m the (chicken) farmer quoted in the article.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s a link to my full 3+ minutes of testimony to the House Gov’t Ops committee. http://bit.ly/jrs27vt

    I love the conversation in the comments here, lots of good points. It’s probably similar to the conversation that would happen at a convention.

    Listening to the House deliberate on JRS 27 made me very proud to live in VT. It’s the first legislation I’ve ever testified on, and to think my voice may have made a difference, even on one vote, is awesome. Imagine what all of our voices put together could do.

    I have a project near completion that uses technology to connect constituents with legislators, in a way never before attempted, with potential to fundamentally change the power dynamic in every district, of every state, starting right here in VT.

    http://www.newgrassroots.com

    With my first baby due on the 18th, I see no other choice but hunkering down and working to help build the future I want. That future is one where every voice is heard, and every voice counts. Process is more important to me than outcome.

    An Article V Convention is the process that was created, as far as I can tell, for these exact moments in time when it’s agreed by most that the existing system is no longer functional for the people, and must be adjusted. Ratification is a high standard to meet.

    IMHO, the time for this difficult discussion to begin is now, to give people all of their rightful opportunities to stand up and speak out. The people get what they demand, and nothing more.

    It’s up to us to come together and demand it.

    -Benjamin Brown
    [email protected]

    • Joshua Comden :

      Excellent speech!

      And even more excellent is your NewGrassRoots website!!!! I had been thinking for many years that I wish there was a way for us to contact our elected officials, know that they got our message, know how our fellow constituents feel, and know how that reflects in the elected official’s voting record. I LOVE IT!
      Keep it up!

    • You should bear in mind that we live in a republic with a representative democracy. Those delegates to the convention, once convened, are free to do whatever they damn please. Therein lies the can of worms that will be opened.

      The single best outcome I could envisage would be the abolishing of Article XVII, which would return the power of selection of Senators and their recall as originally intended, to restore that aspect of states rights.

      Getting rid of Article XVI (the best idea), or modifying it to comply with the direct taxation requirement stipulated in Article I of the Constitution, would allow for the eradication of both the Infernal Revenue Service as we now know and love it and also Interest Payments on the debt created to itself by the Feral Reserve which relies on the powers it has usurped to create the money/debt that enslaves us all. The IRS was after all created to ensure payment of that interest.

      A constitutional convention would bring out all sorts of influence peddlers with various axes to grind. It would make a lot of sense to have a national dialogue on the subject before convening such a hazardous convention.

      It bears repeating, Be careful what you wish for…

  17. Required reading on the subject of Article XVI:
    G. Edward Griffin, The Creature From Jekyll Island

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