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Politics

Washington Volunteers Gather Signatures To Push For Overturning Citizens United Ruling

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Ashley Gross
/
KPLU
Ifa Joybird (left) tells Diane Tilstra (center) that she already signed the petition for I-735

Some news reports say the 2016 presidential campaign could cost twice as much as the 2012 race. People in Washington state who are disgusted by all the money flowing into politics are gathering signatures to try to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Diane Tilstra is one of them. She remembers vaguely hearing about the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

“Just on a peripheral level, I was paying attention to it and thinking, `Gee, that doesn’t sound good,’” she said.

In that controversial case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that corporations and labor unions could give unlimited amounts to outside political groups. Tilstra says she became outraged as more and more money flowed into obscure-sounding political action committees. She helped start a group in Tacoma called the Reclaim the American Dream Team, or RAD Team for short.

“We call ourselves free radicals,” she said with a laugh.

I-735

One of her group’s efforts is to get big money out of politics. And that’s why on a recent day she volunteered to gather signatures outside the UW Tacoma bookstore for I-735. The initiative advocates for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. 

“If we pass this, we’ll be the 17th state in the United States to do it, and we want to be number 17,” she said.

Jessica Levinson of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles focuses on election law. She says a constitutional amendment faces an uphill battle, but there’s a growing amount of passion around this issue.

“Particularly now that the next presidential election is really coming to fruition and people are seeing the massive amounts of money that are spent,” Levinson said.

Tilstra says she gathered signatures for a previous, similar measure and met a lot of people who seemed discouraged.

“They’d say to me, `This is a waste of time. I’m glad you’re doing it, but we’ll never get money out of politics,’” she said. “And I’d say, `Well, you know, you could be right, but I’m certainly not going to stand by and just let it happen.’”

She says they’re hoping to get enough signatures to put the measure on the fall 2016 ballot.

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