I was happy to see this Letter to the Editor of the Baltimore Sun written by a member of our congregation:
Maryland First . . . The Other States Will Follow
by Joe Garonzik
Hardly a day goes by without a story exposing wealthy special interests sticking it to the average Joe. One day itâ€™s Wall Street bankers bringing down the economy, foreclosing on the unsuspecting poor, and getting off virtually scot-free. The next day, itâ€™s insurance companies charging exorbitant rates for health coverage yet denying claims whenever they can get away with it. Drug companies and pesticide manufacturers lobby the FDA to delay pulling a harmful product from the market while unwitting patients or phosphate-breathing farm workers pay the heavy price. The Sunâ€™s Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperinâ€™s article, â€œKochs have stake in oil sands,â€ raises concerns about who really stands to gain from the purported Keystone Pipeline. And then there is Sheldon Adelson.
Maddie Hannaâ€™s March 27 article posted on the Sunâ€™s website described Adelsonâ€™s blatant intentions to hold court for the Republican presidential contenders wishing to compete for his financial support. The victor in this â€œwinner take allâ€ bid for the casino mogulâ€™s backing, stands to pocket a fortune in TV ads from the man who spent $93 million in his 2012 bid as kingmaker. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/sns-mct-bc-njgov-adelson-20140327,0,4184062.story
Adelson, the Koch brothers, a handful of other billionaires, working with their front groups and superpacs use their fortunes to control the political dialogue in Americaâ€™s elections, in large part, because of the Supreme Courtâ€™s verdict in Citizens United . This game of â€œbillionaire bingoâ€ could get even more out of hand if the Court rules similarly in McCutcheon.
There are now 14 proposed Constitutional amendments in Congress that would address Citizenâ€™s United; however, Congressâ€™s failure to act on any of them speaks volumes about national legislatorsâ€™ own dependence on corporate donations and the power of â€œdark moneyâ€ in our political campaigns . Accordingly, the burden now rests with states like Maryland, who are empowered to call for a convention , under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, expressly to (1) affirm every citizenâ€™s individual right to vote, (2) reject the doctrine that artificial entities have inalienable right, and (3) regulate campaign contributions and electioneering expenditures.â€ In all, 34 states (2/3) must issue the call for a Convention to take place. Maryland, in all its diversity, would be among the first.
We must not delay any longer in responding to the crisis posed by Citizens United . Maryland can show the way forward now, much as our 17th-century forebears did with the first statute for religious toleration in America. Maryland is poised to accomplish a significant milestone and should summon the courage to act boldly in the face of an existential threat to democracy.
224 Blenheim Road
Baltimore, MD 21212
Joe Garonzik is a volunteer with the non-profit organization, Get Money Out Maryland