Time For All Alaskans to Support the Constitution

The U.S. Senate voted this past week on a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United (CU) decision, which opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending. The proposed amendment would give Congress and the States the right to control the flood of money corrupting our elections. It failed to pass the Senate even though it won a majority of the votes (54-42) because constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority of the Senate and House to move a proposed amendment to the states for ratification.

We the People Alaska, a coalition now active in twelve Alaska communities, believes our State constitution intended for people to run Alaska and not “artificial persons” or entities, such as corporations, unions and other associations.

Article 1 Section 2       Source of Government:

“All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole.”

WtP Alaska supported the intent of the proposed federal constitutional amendment, although we didn’t believe it addressed the underlying challenge facing our democracy, the granting of constitutional rights to artificial entities.

Nevertheless, the Senate vote raised an interesting question. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on CU in 2010, polls showed ~80% of Americans: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, Libertarians and politically unaffiliated citizens believed the Supreme Court got it wrong. Four years have passed and although the numbers have softened a bit, probably due in no small part to the outreach efforts of the multinational corporations that supported the CU outcome, recent polls still show 60% of the country, still across all party lines, believes the Supreme Court has put us on the wrong path.

We the People Alaska is not endorsing candidates or supporting one party over another. But we do wonder why no Republican Senator voted for the proposed amendment even though 58% of Republicans polled nationwide still oppose the CU decision and would like to see controls placed on corporate spending in elections. If these Senators are not representing the people that voted them into office, whom (or what) are they representing?

A similar disconnect is apparently at play in Alaska. An overwhelming number of letters and comments published in Alaska newspapers during the recent primary campaign bemoaned how BIG MONEY is contaminating our political process. There’s no evidence Alaska feels any differently than the rest of the country on this issue. A ballot measure last year to change the Haines Borough Charter (the local “constitution”) on the issue of corporate constitutional rights matched the national numbers: ~60% of this community, famous for its political divide, voted to oppose constitutional rights for artificial persons.

Which brings us to We the People Alaska’s Constitution Pledge, an opportunity for elected officials and candidates for public office to confirm their belief that the Alaska constitution guaranteed rights to individual people and not artificial people. Alaska has forty State House seats, twenty State Senate seats, two U.S. Senators, one U.S. Congressman, and one Governor/Lt. Governor team. Almost all of these offices are up for grabs in November, and as of mid-September, twenty-seven candidates (or seated officials not up for election this year) have signed the Pledge. We expect many more to sign in the coming month. The twenty-seven Alaskans who have already signed are Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and Constitution party members – but not one Republican. Many Alaskan Republicans certainly support the Pledge. Our list of Pledge Endorsers is sufficient proof: Arliss Sturgelewski, Ray Metcalfe, and John Havelock all held political positions in the State as Republicans. Endorsers Malcolm and Cindy Roberts have long been supporters of Independents like Wally Hickel, and no one ever accused Alaska Outdoor Council ED Rod Arno of being a liberal! This politically diverse group of Pledge Endorsers has been joined by other well-known Alaskans such as Vic Fischer, Chancey Croft, Beth Kerttula and James Wanamaker.

If we are to be successful in returning political power in Alaska to the people of Alaska, we will need support from all corners of the State, geographic and political. There are six weeks to go before our general election – c’mon Alaska Republicans! Call your candidates and tell them you support the Alaska constitution’s guarantee of rights for individual people and not for state-chartered property such as corporations and unions. We need them on board! Please visit our webpage to learn more about this issue, read the Pledge, and sign up your support.

Gershon Cohen
We the People Alaska
www.wethepeoplealaska.org

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Filed under Alaska Constitution Pledge, Editorial

Vampire Hunting – Getting Corporate Bribery out of Politics

Former Alaska State Representative and We the People Alaska Endorser Ray Metcalfe, is forwarding a new approach to get big money-corruption out of politics. Ray is advocating for passage of a law, either by the Legislature or by initiative that would make it a felony offense for an elected official to vote on issues that benefit themselves, their family and friends, or recent employers. You can read more about his ”Vampre Hunters” program at the website www.thebriberystopshere.com.

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Filed under Alaska Constitution Pledge, Editorial

WtPAK Reflections on the Elections

WtP Alaska Letter Published in ADN and Juneau Empire

I hope we all learned at least one thing from this primary election – we need to get big money out of politics. About $15 million was spent on the oil tax referendum, almost all from the oil industry, and about $15 million was spent on the US Senate race, most from major corporations or individuals who made their fortunes through the tax advantages provided by owning corporations. This wasn’t freedom of speech; it was freedom to propagandize. You don’t have a functional democracy when more money = more speech. Continue reading

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Gershon Cohen of We the People Alaska and Senator Mark Begich Agree: Corporations are not People

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Filed under Candidates, Editorial

Hobby Lobby ruling expands corporate rights

Anchorage Daily News

The following editorial appeared in the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer on Tuesday, July 1:

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Monday that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees brought protests that it will deny some corporate employees full access to health care.

But the court’s ruling was narrow, and its effect on women’s use of contraception likely will not be as broad as its opponents claim. What was more disturbing about the ruling than the issue of preventing conception was the court majority’s insistence on bringing into legal life a new entity the corporation as person. Continue reading

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Candidates for U.S. House and Senate Races Sign Alaska Constitution Pledge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2014

Contact:

Gershon Cohen, PhD
907-766-3005
pledge@wethepeoplealaska.org

U.S. House candidate Forrest Dunbar and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Fish signed We the People Alaska’s Constitutional Pledge to let Alaskans know they believe the intent of the Alaska Constitution has always been to protect constitutional rights for individual human beings, and not to grant those rights to corporations, unions, and other “artificial persons.”  Dunbar and Fish added their names to the list that includes U.S. Senator Mark Begich, running for re-election, and Lt. Governor candidate State Senator Hollis French, as well as a rapidly growing number of incumbent Alaska Legislators and candidates in the upcoming 2014 election. Continue reading

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The Shannyn Moore Show

Shannyn Moore discusses corporate personhood in Alaska and interviews Gershon Cohen about the Alaska Constitution Pledge and related issues.

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New coalition wants state candidates to sign pledges that corporations aren’t people

By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.comMarch 30, 2014

A grassroots group that started in Haines is pushing for Alaska’s political leaders and candidates to sign a pledge declaring only individual human beings, and not artificial entities such as corporations and unions, have rights.

The We the People Alaska coalition says constitutional rights belong to people and while corporations and unions may be granted privileges, that’s not the same thing. Continue reading

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Filed under Alaska Constitution Pledge

We the People on “Talk of Alaska”

The issue of corporate personhood has been brought up repeatedly by callers to the Talk of Alaska. Steve Heimel interviews Gershon Cohen. Listen to the interview here.

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Ask politicians to say corporations aren’t people: Capital idea from up north

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A few citizens in Haines, Alaska, have an idea that worth spreading far beyond their small town at the head of a fjord in Southeast Alaska.

“We the People Alaska” is challenging officeholders and political candidates in America’s 49th State to sign a petition saying that corporations are not people.  The group plans to launch its effort in 11 different Alaska cities, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The drive is, in part, an answer to Alaska’s political culture.  The oil industry has long dominated the state, with lobbyists an outsized presence in the state capital.  An FBI investigation once turning up a self-identified “Corrupt Bastards Club” among state lawmakers in Juneau. Continue reading

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Filed under National Coverage