On Feb. 6, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a public hearing on the 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United and get big money out of politics. Advocates for the amendment, including American Promise State Manager Azor Cole and various citizen leaders, provided written testimony to the Subcommittee. Below is testimony from Rod Morrison of Powell, Wyoming
Written Testimony of Rod Morrison
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
Hearing on Citizens United at 10: The Consequences for Democracy & Potential Responses By Congress February 6, 2020
I am a third-generation farmer, and raise livestock near Heart Mountain, between Powell and Cody, Wyoming. I’m also a founder of Rocky Mountain Organic Meats and have served on the Wyoming Business Council.
The unrestrained power of money in our political system is having a terrible toll on rural life and farmers in America. We farmers, as with so many other Americans, don’t have a voice in our government due to the domination of money in elections from outside interests. Money influence has allowed undue concentration of power for the biggest global corporations that dominate our food system, and no one is standing up for the American farmer, who now receives less than .15 cents of the consumer spending on food, down from .50 cents on the dollar in 1952. In just the last few years, farm income has declined precipitously, and American farmers are in crisis.
Case in Point:
As an appointed member of the Wyoming Business Council and the Co-chair of that Council with then Governor of the State of Wyoming, Dave Fredenthal. As an economic development opportunity along with the fact that Wyoming is known as the cowboy state, (we birth some 1.7 million head of cattle per year) and have no USDA processing in the State. Let me just say, this is when I learned the power of money in politics in America. America is no longer a place where competition, free market forces, entrepreneurial spirit, along with ideas of the American Dream are supported and protected. What we soon both discovered was that 4 corporations in the world control over 90 percent of all meat protein consumed by humans. There are also major pharmacological corporations making money from the present system of producing these animal proteins for human consumption. Both corporate sectors are silent givers of cash to our political system. These corporations through their “dark money” giving halted our economic development plan with their “Protected Free Speech” of MONEY to our duly elected political community members. Our elected state politicians clearly understood how important a USDA Processing facility would be the Rancher’s and Farmers of Wyoming but the money spoke louder than our citizens voices.
Moving toward getting money out of politics is the sanest thing we can do as a nation, and it’s the only way we can move forward. That’s why I’m a member of American Promise and Wyoming Promise, working with other farmers and other Americans regardless of party or political views to pass and ratify a Constitutional Amendment to put power back in the hands of the American people. Now 20 states have called for this amendment, and we are working to make Wyoming the next state to do so. Last year we submitted a petition to the Wyoming legislature signed by 26,000 Wyoming citizens that our volunteers gathered in face-to-face conversations with registered voters throughout the 97,000 square miles of the state. We were successful in having a resolution for this constitutional amendment pass the Wyoming House of Representatives, and now are working to have the Wyoming Senate and House pass it. We hope this will encourage our representatives in Congress to take action and work across partisan divides to get this constitutional amendment back to the people and the states for ratification.
Finally, I wanted to inform you that in March 2019, the National Farmers Union adopted the following statement of policy endorsing this Constitutional Amendment:
Article XI – Quality of Life in Rural America
P. CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND ELECTIONS
- CAMPAIGN FINANCE
We support the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to clarify that the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only; the spending of money to influence elections is not speech under the First Amendment, therefore contributions and expenditures to political issues and campaigns, including a candidate’s own, shall be regulated by local, state, and federal governments and must be disclosed.