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GOP CD1 hopefuls disagree about Citizens United

By | 3/21/12, 12:01 pm | News

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

Janice Arnold-Jones complains about a lack of super PAC transparency and accountability; Gary Smith says Sen. Tom Udall’s motive for trying to overturn Citizens United is protecting his own job.


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Today starts a series of posts on the U.S. Senate and 1st Congressional District candidates’ stances on various policy issues.

Janice Arnold-Jones says the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which tossed out limits on political spending by corporations and unions, has been “detrimental to our electoral system,” while Gary Smith opposes efforts to overturn the court’s decision.

“The Citizens United decision confines our right to free speech, instead of protect it,” Arnold-Jones said. “We have seen a rise of super PACs since this decision, which undoubtedly has less transparency, less accountability and more unpredictability than any campaign committee in the United States.”

Smith, on the other hand, criticized U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and others who want to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment.

“It does not surprise me that a career politician like Senator Tom Udall would want to limit the free speech of New Mexicans by amending our United States Constitution,” Smith said. “He has no trouble taking ‘special interest’ money from PACs, but now he wants others to play by different rules giving new candidates a disadvantage.”

Arnold-Jones said a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United isn’t necessary, but what’s needed is “leaders who are willing to take on campaign finance reform.”

The Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat in Congress made their comments in response to questions from NMPolitics.net about the influence of money in politics and ethics reform. NMPolitics.net gave the candidates no word minimum or limit, telling them to say what they had to say. The only criterion was that they not engage in personal attacks.

Here are the questions NMPolitics.net asked on money in politics and ethics reform:

Their responses, published in their entirety:

Janice Arnold-Jones

Janice Arnold-Jones (Courtesy photo)

Janice Arnold-Jones

“The Citizens United decision has been detrimental to our electoral system. I am always apprehensive when people begin to define exactly what constitutes free speech and what doesn’t. It seems as though every time they come to a conclusion all it does is confine free speech to a smaller parameter than before. Our right to speak our minds has been granted by our creator and secured by our Constitution. The Citizens United decision confines our right to free speech, instead of protect it. We have seen a rise of super PACs since this decision, which undoubtedly has less transparency, less accountability and more unpredictability than any campaign committee in the United States.

“We do not need a constitutional amendment to regulate campaign finances. Congress already has the power to do that. We need to elect leaders who have the courage and backbone to do what is right. We need to elect leaders who are willing to take on campaign finance reform and think about how it affects the American people, not about what it will do to their next re-election bid.

“As a member of the minority party I pushed open the doors of the Roundhouse when I took a webcam into the Legislature. It is time that we get serious about the reforms we need to bring to Washington. I believe that we need to make it easier for Americans to access unclassified documents. I also believe, with the exception of the budget, that every piece of legislation needs to be limited to one issue. No log-rolling, no earmarks and no non-germane attachments to any bill any time!”

Gary Smith (Courtesy photo)

Gary Smith (Courtesy photo)

Gary Smith

“New Mexicans’ voices deserve to be heard, and New Mexicans should be free to support the candidate of their choosing. They choose to support candidates in various ways, from volunteering hundreds of hours making phone calls, stuffing envelopes or walking door-to-door. Others wish to contribute financially within their means.

“It does not surprise me that a career politician like Senator Tom Udall would want to limit the free speech of New Mexicans by amending our United States Constitution. He has no trouble taking ‘special interest’ money from PACs, but now he wants others to play by different rules giving new candidates a disadvantage. Changing the rules for other people is what career politicians do to protect their own jobs, and it’s wrong.”

FreddyV15:31 March 26, 2012

OakTruncheon, let me ask you this: do you think you have a right, if you wanted to, to pay for a billboard in, say… England that says who you are and that you hope that the people of England will support a certain candidate for office?

The same would apply here.  The Bill of Rights applies to everyone.  We state that we believe that “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certian unalienable rights,” and among them are  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  It doesn’t say that we believe only American citizens are born with these rights.

So, yes, if a non-citizen, a Canadien, a Brit, a Frenchman, a Mexican, a Russian or any other person from another country wanted to spend their own money and, on their own, put up a billboard to ask people to vote a certain way, then they have that right.  There isn’t a way to stop them, constitutionally.  

Dr. J21:17 March 25, 2012

Well Oak, I would say no, but let me ask you if you think illegal immigrants who are not citizens and have violated our county’s law are not attempting to influence the outcome of elections and the formation of public policy?  Before you answer please look at what has and is happening in NM as well as other states.

OakTruncheon18:34 March 25, 2012

Here’s a question for Dr. J and FreddyV: Should non-citizens have rights equal to citizens in attempting to influence the outcome of elections, and the formation of public policy?

OakTruncheon18:30 March 25, 2012

There are no objective persons, only people who understand the form and function of their own biases.

IcarusPhoenix19:38 March 22, 2012

Mr. Shneider:
 
From Dr. J: “Mr. Schneider, you have already proven it is useless to argue or debate anything with you, for various reasons.”  I’d say chief among those reasons would be that, having taken more than thirty seconds to look up basic facts-and-figures rather than parroting back convenient lines from chain e-mails, you have the temerity to disagree with the good Doc.  Clearly there is an inverse relationship between rhetorical talent and the necessary virtues of a worthy adversary.
 
abqresident:
 
There’s something of a strange mix of reality on the waiver issue; certain groups (notably Gingrich’s PAC) have been claiming that the Affordable Care Act (which had so pathetically little involvement by the President or his administration that the phrase “Obamacare” is laughable) exempts unions.  The reality is that they simply made that up: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/may/23/crossroads-gps/unions-dont-have-comply-obamacare-says-crossroads-/
There’s an equally-invented story that 20% of all waivers are from restaurants in Congresswoman Pelosi’s district; this is also false, of course.  However, a slim majority of requested waivers thus far have been made by unions, mostly in various relatively low-wage trades.

Dr. J12:56 March 22, 2012

I agree with you FreddyV, but you probably also know that the liberals only believe in the Constitution when it suits their agenda and purposes, in order to promote their politics and causes.

FreddyV11:45 March 22, 2012

Anybody who wants to overturn Citizen’s United or SpeechNow.org (look it up) are not deserving of your vote.

It’s the First Amendment.  You cannot control what others say or how they say it. 

Dr. J10:44 March 22, 2012

Mr. Schneider, you have already proven it is useless to argue or debate anything with you, for various reasons.

abqresident10:32 March 22, 2012

I consider myself a moderate conservative with a Libertarian streak but I also belive that Citizens United should go down.  I believe that we need a constitutional amendment that creates laws that only allow an eligible voter in a particular election to give to that election.  This would ban corporations from unduly influencing the election as well as labor unions and other non-individual interests.  As IP stated, the “The people who run corporations already have the exact same representation and opportunities for participation as any other citizen”.  The same can be said for the leaders and members of labor unions, environmental groups etcetera.  I think that the individual limits should be raised or even eliminated with the caveat that only someone elgible to vote in a particular election can donate to candidated running in that election.  This way, an oil baron from Texas cannot fund New Mexico’s gubernatorial candidate and a Labor Union president from Illinois also cannot fund New Mexico’s gubernatorial candidate.  They can however, individually, fund a US Presidential candidate as much as they want.   As far as the argument that Labor Unions fight for the greater good, I disagree.  They fight for their interest only.  I have heard (though do not have the evidence handy) that some labor unions have been granted waivers from Obamacare.  If Obamacare is for the greater good, then why would a labor union even request a waiver?  Elections are currently way too heavily influenced by big money on both sides.  The problem is that the right wants to stop union influence and the left wants to stop corporate influence.  My idea stops both and therefore would probably only be enacted by a grassroots effort by millions of people forcing the issue…. 

Michael H Schneider09:29 March 22, 2012

I fully recognize that corporations and their pro-busoness groups, and right wing groups are special interests, just as the enviro-lobby, unions, etc. are on the left side. … Any person, group, company, etc. that seeks to influence and buy politicians votes and get them to write legislation that favors them or their members and causes is a special interest by definition. 
 
Wrong again. A special interest in one which seeks advantage for one subset or group, rather than for society as a whole.
 
Consider a group that seeks to limit tiny particulates in the air because they believe that these particulates harm people who  breathe. Obviously the people in this group are also people who breathe, so it would help the group’s members. But it would also – and equally – help non-members, because they too breathe.
 
However, if it should turn out that there are zombies and vampires among us who do not breathe, then the group seeking to limit particulates would be a special interest. They’d be a special interest, because limiting particulates wouldn’t help the undead non-breathers.
 
For-profit corporations MUST seek the special advantage of their shareholders. That’s the duty of management. They must put the well being of their shareholders ahead of any other concern. That makes for-profit corporations special interests in a way that non-profits, or charitable organizations, may not be.
 
To the extent that things like clean water, clean air, a healthy ecosystem, avoiding global climate change, and improving medical care benefit everyone more or less equally, they are not special interests. However, to the extent that a group that would particularly benefit (nuclear power plant manufacturers lobbying for building more nuclear power plants to avoid global warming, for example), then they are special interests.

Dr. J08:07 March 22, 2012

IP, as an objective person, I fully recognize that corporations and their pro-busoness groups, and right wing groups are special interests, just as the enviro-lobby, unions, etc. are on the left side. Just because you turn a profit and are an incorporated entity under our laws, that does not exempt you from being a special interest anymore than not being organized for profit and using 501 (c) 3 organizational terms.  Any person, group, company, etc. that seeks to influence and buy politicians votes and get them to write legislation that favors them or their members and causes is a special interest by definition.  

My contention, which you conveniently ignored in your rant, is that Tom doesn’t recognize the special interests who support him and his liberal allies with millions of $$ per year as groups that need regulation or oversight.  That is where I cautioned Heath toward using this at face value without critical thought as to the motive and to what Tom has hatched up here, and it isn’t a bipartisan objective solution to a problem that exists, but rather a way to gain political advantage for his political side.

It is as simple as that, he and his allies would take a vague and poorly written amendment and write it so his groups are favored over the pro-business and right wing groups.  That is not equal treatment under the law, but they could get away with it since so many laws already exist that do not provide equal treatment.  Now, this could only happen if the liberals had a super-majority, as existed from 2009-2011, and which is impossible to exist again anytime soon, given the mood and majorities in our country, so all this is a moot point anyway.  But Tom and his liberal allies on this and other introduced legislation (like the Disclose Act just introduced) are just grandstanding and hoping to score a few cheap political points and fire up their left wing base with these ridiculous bills.  They are not statesmen seeking the betterment of society and all citizens’ lives, that is why these bills will not pass or even get close to the 60 votes needed.

IcarusPhoenix23:04 March 21, 2012

You’re right, Dr. J, I do know this stuff; you, on the other hand, clearly do not.  Heath quoted the Senator’s stated purpose in the question, and you accuse him of bias because he didn’t create a false dichotomy to make you happy?  You obviously have little understanding of what constitutes responsible journalism if you want the writer of a story to disregard reality and instead invent the narrative on the spot to fit your frame-of-reference.
 
While I’m adding the phrase “special interest” to your list of linguistic folly (which I’m rather disappointed in myself for forgetting in the first go-around), I would point out that pandering to or actually being a “special interest” is a blanket charge that you tend to level at anyone to the left of Attila the Hun (to use the admittedly tired cliché), and you do so with neither evidence in your favor nor regard to what the charge actually means – or, for that matter, whether it is indeed a universally negative thing.  Thus, I feel it necessary to give you an education in something that, theoretically, you should have learned in junior high school; “special interests” are a guaranteed side-effect of representative government – and yes, occasionally an unfortunate one.  Are environmental organizations “special interests”?  Of course.  Are unions?  Yes.  Are civil rights groups?  Without any doubt, yes.  But you seem to forget that the NRA, the National Right to Life Foundation, and the AARP are as well, and no one – at least, no one serious – is proposing keeping any of these groups out of politics, and indeed the Constitution does and always has protected the right of Americans to assemble in groups for the purpose of political participation.
 
PNM, on the other hand, is not a special interest, nor is Ford, Exxon-Mobil, or Berkshire-Hathaway, and no matter how many PACs they wish to launder their money through, corporations are not voters, nor do they represent voters; their purpose is to turn a profit, while the previously-mentioned organizations exist to participate in the political process and represent the interests of their members.  The people who run corporations already have the exact same representation and opportunities for participation as any other citizen, and using their companies as a front to buy more influence than they are entitled to or than ordinary citizens – including their own employees – have the opportunity to is a corruption of our electoral process.  Period.
 
Before leveling wild charges at anyone who has ever had the temerity to disagree with you even once, perhaps you should take the approximately thirty seconds necessary to understand what it is you are actually objecting to, rather than arguing with phantasms.
 
All of that being said, I have to agree with Janice; a Constitutional amendment is overkill.

Dr. J21:26 March 21, 2012

Heath asks:  ”Sen. Tom Udall and others are proposing a constitutional amendment that would restore the government’s ability to regulate campaign finance. Do you support that proposal? Why or why not?” 
False, wrt being fair, objective and non-partisan, since Tom has nothing but partisan and biased motives for restricting donations by only conservative sources of funds, not his special interest, really IP you know this stuff.

IcarusPhoenix17:50 March 21, 2012

Er, Dr. J, nowhere in the above article does Heath so much as allude to holding a specific opinion – one way or the other – on the fairness or objectivity of Senator Udall’s proposals.  Have you stepped so far away from the mere concept of objectivity yourself that you have actively decided that anyone not presenting information from a linguistic frame that conforms whole-heartedly to your specific biases is themselves being biased against those fantasies, or were you perhaps trying to make your still-as-yet-unsubstantiated opinions look rational by preemptively providing demonstrably-unnecessary advice?
 
Today’s additions to the “List of Words and Phrases Dr. J Frequently Misuses”:
-Objective
-Fair
-Bipartisan
 
They join previous inductees “ad hominem”, “left wing”, “liberal”, “Keynesian”, “discredited”, and “debunked” on this ever-growing list.

Dr. J12:59 March 21, 2012

Very interesting takes here, well done Heath.  But I would caution you in describing Udall’s and other left wing Democrats efforts as objective, unbiased toward their advantages with special interests, and “fair” to both parties.  They are not and were never intended to be bipartisan, only to entrench their special interest money while removing it for their opponents.  The devil is in the details of what would happen, and who would write and implement these “reforms” after an amendment passed.

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