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Thursday, January 12,2012

A people’s victory in Montana

By Jim Hightower

Let’s hear it for American Tradition Partnership! It’s an organization that stands up for the politically dispossessed in our land. It goes to the highest courts to assert the fundamental rights of a minority that’s been denied its full voice in America’s political and governmental power circles. Yes, American Tradition Partnership is a tenacious advocate for (cue the patriotic music): corporations.

Huh? Despite its grandiose name, American Tradition Partnership is a front group that funnels money from corporations into various political ads attacking candidates whom the corporations don’t like — without identifying the corporate backers. Hoping to expand its laundry services for these secret donors,

ATP filed suit in Montana to overturn the state’s century-old ban on spending corporate funds in state and local elections. The front group argued that the ban restricts corporate influence over government policies.

Wow. That’s so twisted and anti-democratic that it’d make an American eagle scream in pain. But for arrogant corporate elites and their political lackeys, too much is never enough.

The good news is that corporate lackeys don’t yet control Montana’s Supreme Court. On Dec. 30, the Court’s majority sided with democracy, common sense and state Attorney General Steve Bullock, who argued for the people of Montana that corporations already have beaucoup ways to assert their oversized political power without needing to funnel secret money into our elections.

Of course, the front group will now scamper to the corporate-friendly U.S. Supreme Court, pleading with it to stomp on this victory for democracy by overruling the state court. To keep posted on the case and to fight for people power over corporate rule, go to www.FreeSpeechForPeople.org.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

JimHightower.com For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit www.jimhightower.com.


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The idea that this is a victory for the people is preposterous. It was people who were excercising their free speech, but are now denied. People are free to band together in groups and publicize their point of view. The converse is totally and utterly unconstitutional, and the recent Montana decison will surely be overturned by the US Supreme Court. This is no different than banning books and movies. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote—to avert the evil of the dangers of unfettered speech, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.