Welch Backs Overturn Of Court Ruling On Campaign Finance

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch is supporting a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform.

Welch is also in favor of several short term measures that he says will lessen the impact of the ruling on this year’s elections.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) In a highly controversial decision, the Court ruled that there should be no limits on how much money corporations and labor unions can spend on political campaigns, as long as these expenditures are made independent of a specific candidate.

Welch says he opposes the decision because he’s concerned that it will set off massive amounts of new spending to influence elections:

(Welch) "It’s categorically so much different and worse than all the things people complain about. Now, it was a 5 to 4 decision by the Supreme Court.  I believe it was the wrong decision and the question is: are there actions we can take in Congress that will put some constraints on the worst abusers? And I think there are and I think we should."

(Kinzel) Welch is backing new legislation that he says calls for disclosure and transparency in political ads.   He wants to require the CEO of any corporation that finances a media campaign, to appear at the end of the ad – much in the way that candidates now do:

(Welch) "Now your face is associated – your voice is associated – with the content of that ad. So I think it makes you discipline yourself on those ads more, and I think the corporate officials whose company is going to be putting their money in – if it’s Exxon Mobil, let’s say – that CEO should be required to go on TV and tell the American public he or she approves that ad."

(Kinzel) Welch also wants to require that shareholders of a company vote to approve any spending on a media campaign.

The long term solution, according to Welch, is a constitutional amendment that places strict limits on corporate financing of political campaigns:

(Welch) "So it requires a constitutional remedy unless we have a new Supreme Court that changes that decision so part of our approach has to be pushing a constitutional amendment that’s long and involved should be used sparingly but it is necessary here."

(Kinzel) Welch says he’s hopeful that a number of House Republicans will also support the bill and that the legislation can be passed in the coming weeks.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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