January 18, 2012

Portland council takes stand against corporate personhood

A resolution calling on Maine's congressional delegation to act passes by a 6-2 vote.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Portland City Council has approved a resolution that calls on members of Maine’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing corporate personhood.

After listening to more than an hour of testimony tonight about the undue influence corporate donations can play in politics and elections, the council voted 6-2 to adopt the resolution.

Mayor Michael Brennan, along with councilors David Marshall, Kevin Donoghue, John Anton, Jill Duson and Nicholas M. Mavodones Jr., supported the resolution, with councilors Cheryl Leeman and John Coyne opposed.

The council resolution was a response to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, known as Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds on politcal advertising. In the ruling, the judges said corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people.

Councilor Edward Suslovic was forced to leave before the vote due to pain he was suffering from a back injury.

While Leeman said the council chambers was not the proper venue to discuss a federal issue, her colleagues and everyone who spoke at the hearing disagreed.

“I can’t think of a more important thing to talk about than democracy. It is being threatened,” said Eric Johnson, a small-business owner from Portland.

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