Thursday, April 18, 2024

I want to let you know about the recent success of my effort to get the Cambridge City Council to pass a policy resolution in support of a pending measure in the Massachusetts Legislature that is aimed at addressing the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case.

On Monday night, the council voted unanimously to request that the Massachusetts Legislature: “pass (Senate) Bill S. 772, which calls upon the United States Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people.”

The bill was introduced by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, in early 2011. For the next year, the bill was stuck in Judiciary Committee, with no hearing date scheduled. However, with grassroots support for a response to Citizens United continuing to build in the run-up to the two-year anniversary of that now infamous decision, it was announced just a few weeks ago that a public hearing for this bill will finally take place Feb. 28.

The council’s unusual and extraordinary endorsement of this proposal before the Massachusetts Legislature will undoubtedly add momentum to a cause that has also been bolstered by the attention generated by Stephen Colbert’s hilarious transfer of his “Making A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” Super PAC to fellow comedian Jon Stewart late last month. The on-air segment helped underscore the absurdity of the outcome in the Citizens United case.

I work as an attorney and a project manager for a large software company. In my spare time, I work as an activist with a number of local groups that are dedicated to addressing the issues raised by the Citizens United decision. These groups include the Occupy Boston Citizens United Working Group, the Greater Boston Chapter of Move to Amend, Roostrikers and the Greater Boston Coffee Party Progressives.

The main reason I am involved in all of these activities is because I believe that our federal and state legislators have become completely dependent on large campaign contributions from private corporations and wealthy individuals, and I fear that in the wake of the Citizens United decision this dependency will only become more pronounced and untenable.

As it stands, public confidence in government continues to decline. Earlier this month, CNN reported that the Congressional approval rating hit yet another all time low; it now stands at just 11 percent. And here in Massachusetts, we’ve witnessed three-straight House speakers be indicted on corruption charges.

In the midst of all this — thanks to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case — we are now in the early stages of the first presidential campaign season where corporations will be permitted to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence campaigns and elections.

After hearing state Sen. Eldridge speak Jan. 20 at an Occupy Boston event to protest the two-year anniversary of Citizens United, I contacted the entire council with my request for a resolution in support of S. 772 on Jan. 23. Later that day, I received enthusiastic responses from councillors Leland Cheung, Marjorie Decker and Minka vanBeuzekom.

Councillor Cheung even permitted me to suggest my own draft resolution — and much of what I wrote was retained in final order. For a 31-year-old political activist, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Thank you,

Mike Connolly, Harding Street