OLYMPIA — Democrats used a state Senate committee hearing Tuesday to vent about how increasing political spending by corporations poses “a threat to our democracy.”
State Sen. Adam Kline and state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both from Seattle, urged the Senate Government Operations Committee to adopt a measure to show support for an amendment to the United States Constitution to “return the authority to regulate election campaign contributions to congress and state legislatures.”
That authority disappeared, Kline and Pedersen said, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to remove limits on independent political spending by corporations and unions.
“I don’t want to get the violins and throwing flags and all that, but part of the reason this country was created was to institute self-governing, and this goes I think to the core of that,” Kline said. “It allows those with frankly more money to have a louder voice.”
The public testimony at the packed hearing occasionally got testy.
At one point, Chris Esh of the Washington Public Interest Research Group referred to “dark money groups” and promptly got cut off by committee chairwoman Pam Roach, R-Auburn.
Nobody spoke against the bill — one resident accidentally signed up to oppose the bill but spoke in favor of it — but the measure is no sure bet.
The symbolic bill narrowly passed the state House on a near-party line vote earlier this month. But a similar bill introduced in the state Senate never got a vote in committee.