PAC Members' Revision of 28th Amendment

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Hey guys. Many of you are dissatisfied with the PAC's current wording of the 28th Amendment as it stands and so, over the first 3 days since the PAC was announced, many early members, including lawyers and writers for local news organizations, decided to work together to produce a draft of a more detailed version of the initial amendment.  Written with the ideas of many, after days of negotiation and compromise, this is what we have thus far:

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28th Amendment

(Corporations are not people)


Sec 1. Corporations and other entities created by operation of law are not persons and have all and only those rights created by law. Partnerships and other organizations that act as a mere extension of natural persons shall have the rights of natural persons only when comprised entirely of natural persons and acting with their unanimous consent. 

Sec 2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, contributions to or in support of candidates for public office and associated organizations in any form are not protected acts under the U.S. Constitution. 

Sec 3. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to deny the rights and protections afforded to any and all legal entities under the 4th Amendment of the U.S constitution; as well as the rights or obligations of any entity to sue and be sued, or to buy, sell, own or dispose of property, to be taxed or nullify the rights pertaining to a free and open press.

Sec 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

29th Amendment

(Hardcore campaign finance reforms)


Sec 1. No person, corporation, for-profit entity, non-profit entity, or entity of any type, domestic or foreign, other than a United States citizen, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, or offer any form of gift or compensation to any individual hereafter referred to as, ‘candidate’ or ‘elected official’ for state or national public office; or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of said candidates and elected officials. 

Sec 2. No candidate for any elected office shall be permitted to receive more than one half of one percent of the average income of the poorest fifty percent of all adult citizens in the United States of America, in contributions of any form, excluding volunteer hours, for any purpose, from any singular citizen of the United States of America during the same election cycle; average income of the poorest fifty percent of American shall be defined by the most recent enumeration as detailed in Article 1, Sect. 2 of the U.S. Constitution.  All contributions must be fully disclosed in amount and source. 

Sec 3**. No candidate for federal office, in any election cycle, shall raise or spend more than a sum equal to one thousand times the median household income in the United States of America. The limit shall be five hundred times median income at the State level, and two-hundred and fifty times median income at the Municipal level; median income shall be defined by the most recent enumeration as detailed in Article 1, Sect. 2 of the U.S. Constitution. 

Sec 4. No appointee or nominee to, or holder of, any office of any government body shall accept gifts or compensation to their personal accounts save their duly awarded salary from said government body; they may receive campaign contributions in a separate campaign account subject to disclosure. 

Sec 5. All campaign expenditures shall be comprised entirely of campaign contributions. Candidates as private citizens may contribute to their campaigns within the limits and restrictions of this amendment; and shall be permitted use of personal forms of transportation. 

Sec 6. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

**Note the multipliers to median income are simply placeholders. They were chosen arbitrarily in the early draftings of the amendment and we've all been too lazy to do research to pick better multipliers. It's, like, totaly up for debate and stuff.

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This is not a finished product and I still want more ideas and suggestions and criticism to be shared.  

Keep in mind though that we have agreed this amendment should not be a wish-list of sorts. We are not trying to fix every electoral problem known to America.  We want to focus on 2 main objectives as outlined by the initial amendment posted by Aaron Wysocki:

"Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed."

It is clear that our objective should be to

  1. Deal with the issue of corporate personhood and revoke it, and;
  2. Establish basic campaign financing caps/limits and allow public funding.

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To vote on or against a motion, cite the motion in some way in your post and mention whether or you you approve of it.

Motion to consider (Name of proposer)

  • Names of those (Yea/Nay)
  • in support (Yea/Nay)

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Removal of Sec 3. in the 28th (Lam Nguyen)

  • Lam Nguyen (Yea)
  • William Falberg (Yea)
  • Skitz O'Fuel (Yea)
  • Issa Haddad (Yea)
  • Minor Heretic (Yea)

Replacing "No person, corporation...citizen" with "Only a U.S. Citizen..." in Sec 1 of 29th. (Minor Heretic)

  • Minor Heretic (Yea)
  • Lam Nguyen (Yea)
  • Samuel Fieldman (Yea)
  • William Falberg (Yea)

Allowing candidates to use their private property in their own campaigns. (Minor Heretic)

  • Minor Heretic (Yea)
  • Lam Nguyen (Nay)
  • Samuel Fieldman (Nay)

Add "All contributions for a candidate of any electoral office must be gathered from citizens of the same electoral district" to 29th. (John Nicholson)

  • John Nicholson (Yea)
  • Lam Nguyen (Yea)
  • Minor Heretic (Yea)

Removal of Sec 3 of the 29th. (Minor Heretic)

  • Minor Heretic (Yea)
  • Lam Nguyen (Yea)
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Showing 195 reactions


commented 2011-10-25 18:58:56 -0400 · Flag
Does anyone have a contribution to my Section 2)? I still think it needs a tweek that says, in effect, no matter what has been done in the past about equating money and speech, we do no longer allow that. I know there must be a few words that will put that point.
Samuel? Tessa? Anyone?
commented 2011-10-25 18:51:57 -0400 · Flag
The objection that this will restrict current ‘freedoms and rights’ under the constitution is moot once the amendment is passed; it will be the constitution with political speech restrictions.
Not only that,it will restrict some folk from exercising undue political power they presently enjoy.
That is the object of this exercise, is it not; control political money and remove excessive influence of big money (the Tories) in the political arena. Removing corruption is messy.
commented 2011-10-25 18:43:18 -0400 · Flag
Well, non-citizens can’t vote in most state elections. There are things like improvement districts, etc., but that is not what we are concerned with for the time being.
Inequities can be worked out, but as written, it just acts as a draw for anti immigrant factions and a push to encourage studying for naturalization. All in all, not a bad score.
After all, the original also had some apparently undesirable elements.
commented 2011-10-25 18:34:40 -0400 · Flag
Realizing the need for as much support as possible, and the fact that non-citizens CAN NOT VOTE, I set the marker at citizen. As to the millionaires; if the pols do not legislate to control that we can always vote them out. This country is built on procrastination toward freedom. There are some things only idiots will oppose, like political money limits.
The 4th is part of Samuels contribution. Ask him why. I looked at the fourth amendment and, not being a finely trained legal beagle, I do not see the connection, but any support we can throw to the 4th, the better; it is under continuous attack by the Tories.
commented 2011-10-25 18:16:49 -0400 · Flag
@John B Brown

You are headed in the right direction – simplicity – but I think you have overshot the ideal by a bit. If we don’t put in some restriction on the level of individual political contributions we will have eliminated direct corporate funding but allowed millionaires to continue their dominance.

Your Section 3 is almost there. The problem is that we shouldn’t/can’t restrict political speech to citizens. All persons within the jurisdiction of the U.S. are afforded all the rights of the Constitution. A tourist from Ulan Bator has the right of free speech.

Contributions of money, services, or gifts in kind to candidates, campaign committees, political parties, PACs, or any organization involved in influencing an election (or a ballot initiative) should be restricted to citizens. These contributions should be subject to statute and not protected by the Constitution. The question is how to sum up these categories in an elegant, clear, and properly bounded way.

Why the 4th amendment clause? I don’t see anything that would deny the 4th anywhere.
commented 2011-10-25 16:25:54 -0400 · Flag
There are both social and political implications to each section of my proposal. Any apparent discrimination can be sorted out by further amendment.
commented 2011-10-25 15:21:06 -0400 · Flag
The money/speech section would probably gain from an appropriate ‘notwithstanding.’
commented 2011-10-25 15:18:26 -0400 · Flag
An edited simplified Amendment 28.

Amendment 28

Section 1) Entities created by operation of law are not persons.

Section 2) Money is not speech in any possible meaning of the words
money and speech.

Section 3) No person, other than a citizen, shall be allowed to contribute
money or speech to any political purpose.

Section 4) Nothing in this Article shall be construed to deny any rights
under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Section 5) The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article.

Just a little more formal but still easily understood by even the most obtuse.
commented 2011-10-25 13:40:55 -0400 · Flag
I think the repeated process of boiling this down, then adding anything necessary that was lost is important and should probably be done multiple times. In this case, among the missing elements is partnerships. They are distinct from corporations in some very relevant ways, but if you don’t deal with them somehow, you’ve got a loophole you could drive a truck through. You ghouls just lump them together, but then no political organizations would have any constitutional protection and that is bad for democracy. I wrote the partnership language in the current draft. I’m open to alternative ideas, of course, but they can’t just be ignored.
commented 2011-10-25 13:38:21 -0400 · Flag
Simplified Amendment 28; no need for a 29th.

28th Amendment (the whole megillah)

Section 1) Entities created by operation of law are not persons.

Section 2) Money is not speech in any possible meaning of the words money and speech.

Section 3) No person, other than a citizen, shall be allowed to contribute money or speech to any political purpose.

Section 4) Nothing in this Article shall be construed to deny any rights under the 4th Amendment of the U.S constitution.

Section 5) The Congress shall have power, under Article I, to enforce Article 28 by appropriate legislation.

No other explications are needed; let the legislators work that out. We must elect those who will do the bidding of the people, trust them, but oversee their actions. I think we do not need Section 5).

For example of the need for simplicity I give you a comment from the members revision:

“**Note the multipliers to median income are simply placeholders. They were chosen arbitrarily in the early draftings of the amendment and we’ve all been too lazy to do research to pick better multipliers. It’s, like, totaly up for debate and stuff.”

The choice of the phrase ‘to any political purpose’ is deliberate.
commented 2011-10-25 13:18:57 -0400 · Flag
Simplified amendments 28 and 29.

28th Amendment (Corporations are not people)

Section 1) Entities created by operation of law are not persons.

Section 2) Money is not speech in any possible meaning of the words money and speech.

Section 3) Nothing in this Article shall be construed to deny any rights under the 4th Amendment of the U.S constitution.

Section 4) The Congress shall have power, under Article I, to enforce Article 28 by appropriate legislation.

29th Amendment (Hardcore campaign finance reforms)

Section 1) No person other than a citizen shall be allowed to contribute money to any political purpose.

Section 2) The Congress shall have power, under Article I, to enforce Article 29 by appropriate legislation.

I specifically use ‘to any political purpose’ so it covers all bases but leaves room. I think that pretty much covers the desires of the people; no fake entities messing with our democracy.

Sections 2 through 6 of the proposed amendment 29 are unneeded if we do our jobs diligently. Our job is to act as responsible citizens.

No other explications are needed; let the legislators work that out. We must elect those who will do the bidding of the people, trust them, but oversee their actions.

For example of the need for simplicity I give you:

“**Note the multipliers to median income are simply placeholders. They were chosen arbitrarily in the early draftings of the amendment and we’ve all been too lazy to do research to pick better multipliers. It’s, like, totaly up for debate and stuff.”
commented 2011-10-25 13:00:23 -0400 · Flag
@Lam

Also, in Section 1 of 29th, why do we mention “appointee”? Appointees don’t raise money or run for office. “Compensation” also seems odd – we aren’t paying their salaries by donation. It should be about campaigns. Here’s a stab at it:

Only a United States citizen shall be allowed to contribute money, services, or gifts in kind, directly or indirectly, to the campaign of any candidate for public office; or to contribute money to any independent organization campaigning for or against any such candidate. A contributor must be a constituent of the recipient candidate.
commented 2011-10-25 12:44:19 -0400 · Flag
@Lam

“And I don’t see a need to cut it further. You want it cut into 1/3rd of what it is to suit the current levels of spending, but that’s because you assuming every American will donate the maximum amount. Judging from the stats you gave us in 2010, probably only 10 million will donate and only .08% donation over $200.”

Actually, I’m not assuming that. My point is that the present donation limit ($2300) is designed to give power to the wealthy. A tiny fraction of a percent of people can and will donate anywhere near that amount, making them the power brokers. Lowering the limit to ~$160 is somewhat better, but it still creates an elite of perhaps 0.1%. The average donation to Obama’s 2008 campaign was $68, but about 27% of his donors gave over $2,300, so that $68 number is pulled high. I read the average for a senate campaign somewhere – $40. So your average working stiff, or even your upper middle class working stiff, doesn’t donate anything near $160. That limit creates a slightly larger elite (0.1% instead of 0.08%?), but it is still an elite.

I still think that the median/poor income numbers are susceptible to political manipulation. As others have pointed out, the “enumeration” required is a census, not an economic analysis.

You can reduce Amendment 28 to the first sentence of section 1 and Section 4. In that first sentence I’d replace the word “rights” with “privileges,” and, to be precise, replace “law” with “statute.” It’s important to contrast Constitutional law with state or federal statute. An organization of natural persons is, well, a group of natural persons, who have individual and collective rights already. We can, for example, peaceably assemble and petition the government, both group and individual rights.

Section 2 should be in the 29th. And on Section 2: is there any right other than speech that corporate lawyers could try to get around these restrictions? Is there some general way to say that donations are regulated by statute but not protected by the Constitution? Maybe that is the way. “The act of donating money, services, or gifts in kind to any campaign for public office shall be regulated by statute, but is not protected by the Constitution.”

Section 3 gives corporations human rights (4th Amendment) that they don’t have, and the rest is redundant in the light of 600 years of common law. In terms of individuals storing personal information on corporate premises, that has been addressed in cases of medical records and papers at lawyers offices, etc.

Sorry to beat this drum again, but for the sake of elegance knock off the front end of the first sentence of Section 1 of the 29th and say “Only a U.S. Citizen shall be allowed…” That takes care of it. I’d also like to see a provision restricting donations to the actual constituents of the candidate. Californians shouldn’t be able to influence an election in Maine, and vice versa.

In 29, Section 5, consider replacing “shall be afforded herewith the rights and privileges to” with “may.” “Limits and restrictions” is redundant. Perhaps “of and for” could be “of”? Perhaps candidates should be permitted “use of personal property” so their home offices and computers don’t become an issue. I suppose a millionaire could use his personal jet, but once he put a few gallons of fuel in it or paid the pilot for a few hours it would be over the donation limit.

Also in Section 5, change the reference to the nonexistent Section 5 of the 28th Amendment to Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the 29th.

Overall, this is proceeding in an intelligent and civil manner. Very heartening in a world of snark and emotionalism. Thanks to all.
commented 2011-10-25 12:23:22 -0400 · Flag
@Samuel :) Thanks.
commented 2011-10-25 11:05:31 -0400 · Flag
@Tessa, not surprisingly, I think you and I agree about 95%. You didn’t come off antagonistic or as a troll. Rather, I meant that I find it refreshing that nobody here is coming off as a troll and it is only a matter of time before that changes, as will happen on any online forum after a little while.
commented 2011-10-25 10:47:37 -0400 · Flag
:) True Samuel. I hope I haven’t come off as too antagonistic. I only want to help and I have a lot of respect for what you folks are trying to do here. I know it’s a work in progress and that’s why I spend my time trying to think of ways to help you however I can. I’m not here to flame you and troll you with a bunch of elitist garbage…this is, thoroughly, the progressive choir. However, by the same token, we must acknowledge who has the levers of power right now. They got there for a reason, and they’re going to poke harder than I did.
commented 2011-10-25 10:44:20 -0400 · Flag
By the way, I just want to point out that the word “dollar” does not appear in the current draft of amendment 29. It refers only to “income”, whatever units are used to measure that at the time.
commented 2011-10-25 10:40:57 -0400 · Flag
That’s very true and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. Amending the constitution is tricky business and not to be taken lightly. It’s only happened 27 times, and half of those amendment resulted from just 2 major events in US history, the revolution and the civil war.

Your continued input would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps you could stop referring to “you folks at WolfPAC” and instead start referring to “we here at WolfPAC”. I’m not any more involved in the organization than you are at the moment. My only influence is the power of my persuasion, just like you.
commented 2011-10-25 10:35:08 -0400 · Flag
@Samuel What a Devil’s bargain we get, when we ask for one thing, but get something we never intended…but only if we allow it to happen. That’s all I’m saying. If you folks at WolfPAC plan to dedicate the next couple of years of your lives to this cause, maybe you should try to get a pretty firm grasp of what you’re asking for before you lay it all in the hands of people who may know you, but may not mean you well.
commented 2011-10-25 10:34:02 -0400 · Flag
@Tessa, first, it’s not something I’m proposing. The only language on here that really comes from me is section 1 of amendment 28. I’ve worked on other language, but only to the extent of modifying what other people wrote. I’m not even sure if I support amendment 29. I’m trying to get the language solid enough that it is something that I feel I can support because the idea is certainly important, it’s just a tricky thing to put into the Constitution. (I think it’s getting there, but it needs a lot more analysis before I’m certain.)

I’ll have to think about your points on the word “dollar”. I think the language of amendment 29 needs considerable work and that is something to think about in the process. I’m not sure your concerns are valid, but I’m not immediately sure they are invalid either. I’ll have to think about that one later. Thanks for the input.

By the way, can I just point out how refreshing it is to have a genuine intellectual debate on an online forum. It doesn’t happen too often. It’s only a matter of time before this site starts getting infected with trolls, but while it lasts, it’s nice.
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