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Batten Down the Hatches: Supreme Court Opens Floodgates for Corporate Spending in Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Published 11:07 AM Eastern - Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lori Lodes, 202-730-7680, Lori.Lodes@seiu.org

Americans deserve accountability, transparency and ethical standards for corporate electoral activity in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, says SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger

WASHINGTON, DC--Anna Burger, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer and Chair of the Change to Win labor federation, released the following statement condemning today's United States Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

"Today the US Supreme Court lifted the floodgates and started dismantling century-old restrictions on corporate electoral activity in the name of the 'free speech rights' of corporations--meaning if you are a 'corporate person' (aka a CEO or corporate official), you are now free to hit the corporate ATM and spend whatever of your shareholders' money it takes to elect the candidates of your choice.

"Unlimited corporate spending in federal elections threatens to drown out the voices of the people who should really be at the center of the political process, i.e., voters and candidates. Unleashing corporate spending will only serve to distort and ultimately delegitimize the electoral process.

"Let's be clear: corporations have already been shilling out a lot of cash for political activities, letting their shareholders and managerial employees know exactly which candidates they want to win or lose elections and paying heavy sums for attack ads, direct mail and other forms of public communication through PACs.

"But with today's Citizens United decision, the Court has given corporate managers the greenlight to bypass the checks and balances, use unlimited amounts from the general treasury -funds that should be used to increase the value of the business or pay dividends to shareholders--to instead pay for public communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of the candidates of their choice.

"Our democratic process was meant to protect the people not profit margins and today's decision makes the need for an effective system for public funding, effective disclosure regulations, and other reforms of federal elections all the more pressing.

"We look forward to working with concerned individuals, officials and groups to remedy to the greatest degree possible the unfortunate consequences of this Supreme Court decision, through legislation and other appropriate means."

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With 2.2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers -- not just corporations and CEOs -- benefit from today's global economy.

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