By Preston Maddock and Amanda Terkel 02/26/2013
Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) has been in Congress for only seven weeks, but he already supports measures to decrease the influence of money in the politics, including a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
“I don’t think we should view corporations as people for the purposes of speech,” Peters said, noting he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s famous decision in Citizens United. “Corporations are a fictional entity that are designed to make money and they’re neither people nor patriots. I think you have to keep that in mind.”
Peters comments came as part of the On the Record Project, a crowd-sourcing partnership between The Huffington Post and Rootstrikers, a nonpartisan organization fighting the influence of money in politics founded by Lawrence Lessig.
Toure Owens is a sophomore at San Francisco State University and president of his school’s Rootstrikers chapter. He took up the project’s call to get politicians on the record about whether the “unending chase for money” in politics – as Secretary of State John Kerry called it – has corrupted the political system, and interviewed Peters.
“[M]y observation is we spend a lot of time worrying about fundraising and politics, and not enough time worrying about policy and the things like the sequester that we’re talking about out here today in San Diego,” Peters told Owens.
Peters added that he wants to see “a constitutional amendment” in order to provide “full disclosures so that voters know who’s funding these attack ads against candidates around the country.”
“That’s something I understand the Republicans used to support but are not so supportive of now,” he said. “And I would certainly call on everyone, let’s just open up the sunshine on who’s funding what so that voters can at least have that information when they make those decisions, make those decisions in an informed way.”
In his last speech before leaving the Senate to become President Barack Obama’s new secretary of state, Kerry decried the influence of money in politics.
“There’s another challenge that we must address and it is the corrupting force of the vast sums of money necessary to run for office,” he said. “The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself. I’ve used the word ‘corrupting’ and I want to be very clear about it: I mean by it not the corruption of individuals but a corruption of a system itself that all of us are forced to participate in against our will.”
Peters, who served in local government before running for Congress, told Owens that in his new position in Washington, he intends to make campaign finance reform a priority.
“Those are positions I took in my campaign and I certainly intend to follow up,” he said.