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Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney (6 mins)
Kaitlin-Sopoci-Belknap, Campaign Co-Manager for Measure T (19 mins)
John Bonifaz, Attorney and Founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (17 mins)
Corporate "Rights" Can Never Outweigh Our Community's Right to Local Control
The Supreme Court has ruled that a community can limit corporate involvement in elections if that involvement is undermining the democratic process and the citizenry's confidence in government.
Here is a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, explaining why previous laws (referred to as Bellotti) limiting corporate contributions have been overturned, and detailing why a law such as the Humboldt Fair Elections and Local Democracy Ordinance would be constitutional:
"Indeed, in Bellotti, this Court explicitly recognized that "[p]reserving the integrity of the electoral process, preventing corruption,... `sustain[ing] the active, alert responsibility of the individual citizen in a democracy for the wise conduct of government,'" and "[p]reservation of the individual citizen's confidence in government" are "interests of the highest importance" in ballot measure elections. 435 U.S., at 788 -789, citing and quoting [454 U.S. 290, 303] United States v. Automobile Workers, 352 U.S. 567, 570, 575 (1957). We did not find those interests threatened in Bellotti, however, in part because the State failed to show "by record or legislative findings that corporate advocacy threatened imminently to undermine democratic processes" or "the confidence of the citizenry in government." 435 U.S., at 789 -790."
The Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy (Measure T) contains legislative findings that follow the exact wording of the Bellotti case and other similar cases:
* The people of Humboldt County make the affirmative legislative finding that corporate contributions in elections are imminently undermining our democratic processes, and are denigrating rather than protecting First Amendment interests.
* The people of Humboldt County make the affirmative legislative finding that corporate contributions in elections pose a genuine threat to the confidence of the citizenry of Humboldt County in our government.
* The people of Humboldt County make the affirmative legislative finding that non-local corporate contributions are undermining our democratic processes, creating the appearance of impropriety and corruption, and are causing the people of Humboldt County to lose confidence in the integrity of our elections and in our government.
A survey was also conducted last year where the question was asked if voters thought that corporate involvement in elections made political corruption more likely - 78% of respondants did. See more about this survey here.
While the above offers strong legal argument for why the Fair Elections and Local Democracy Ordinance would not be overturned due to corporation's First Amendment "rights," it is also important to note that we do not believe that the courts had the authority to grant corporations constitutional "rights" in the first place. Only human beings can have civil and political rights. Corporate "rights" limit the rights of a community to pass laws that ensure local control over natural resources, worker's health and safety, the economy and elections.
More information on this subject
Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!
Democratic Party of Humboldt County
Green Party of Humboldt County
Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684
Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Carpenters Union Local #751
Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO
Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney
Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor
Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council
Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council
Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council
Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council
Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor
Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor
Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council
Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
... and hundreds of other individuals and local businesses! Join us today!
Learn more about Measure T in a Pros and Cons Video, produced by Eileen McGee (51 mins)
Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights