So far, the Bend City Council has declined to take a stand on the Citizens United controversy. It’s a wise choice, and councilors should stick with it.
Bend activists want the council to pass a resolution endorsing a constitutional amendment to declare corporations are not people and money isn’t speech.
It’s a move to overrule the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which threw out limits on corporate spending on campaigns.
The ruling asserted that corporations, like individuals, have a right to spend money supporting or opposing a candidate. That provision has been derided by opponents as a declaration that corporations are people and have the same rights. It’s also been blamed for giving the rich and powerful another tool to impose their will.
The request to the Bend City Council comes from Move to Amend of Central Oregon, a group that presented nearly 1,300 signatures urging council action. The local group of about 27 people is part of a national movement called Move to Amend.
Although at least two councilors — Jodie Barram and Jim Clinton — have been open to the idea, the full council has repeatedly said no. Mayor Jeff Eager said the advocates could be more effective by addressing their congressional representatives.
Concern about the impact of money in political campaigns is widespread, although this particular idea is bound to be controversial. Most important in this context is that it’s not the city’s issue; better to concentrate on water, sewers, police protection and fire budgets, and the many other issues for which the City Council bears primary responsibility.