Campaign Finance Reformers Call On Pryor To Back Amendment

Sep 3, 2014

Senator Mark Pryor
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A coalition of people and organizations seeking to limit the role of money and special interest spending in elections turned in over 7,000 petitions to Senator Mark Pryor’s office Wednesday. The group is calling on Pryor to support a proposed constitutional amendment reforming campaign spending.

Paul Spencer, with the Arkansas campaign and ethics reform group Regnat Populus, said he’s unsure why Pryor hasn’t joined 50 other Senators supporting the proposal by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) to reverse much of the US Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision.

“For the life of me I can’t understand why he is sitting on the fence the way he is. Some of the speculations I’ve made were that perhaps because the race is so close that he doesn’t want to seem off-putting or as my wife would say, he doesn’t want to make any sudden moves that would upset the status quo,” said Spencer.

Pryor responded in a statement indicating some sympathy with the cause. But the Democratic incumbent still refrained from saying he would sign-on to the legislation.

“I'll take a close look at this amendment because it's clear something needs to be done to protect the voices of everyday Arkansans in the political process. Look no further than the out-of-state billionaires who applauded Congressman Cotton for voting against the Farm Bill and the $18 million they've spent to elect someone who will put their interests ahead of what's best for Arkansas."

Spencer contended the influence of money in electoral politics is harming democracy.

“One of the big problems that we see generally in politics is the influx of third-party money, not only the outside interests coming in, but also the super wealthy and the special interests having a disproportionate say in the elections not only in Arkansas but across the entire country,” said Spencer.

Spencer noted Republican Senator John Boozman has also not put his support behind the measure. Pryor’s senate opponent Representative Tom Cotton has not responded to a request for his position on the proposed amendment.

Mark Swaney, the Green Party nominee in the senate race between Pryor and Cotton unequivocally supports the measure to reverse much of the Citizens United ruling.

I support the proposed constitutional amendment, especially this part “Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.”

Claiming that “corporations are people” is obviously wrong and is dangerous to our rights as human beings and actual citizens. The Citizens United decision must be overturned.