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Guest post by Steve Gold, General Counsel, ActBlue

Commenting in a post on Facebook recently about Target shareholders' demands for a review of the company's political contributions policy, CREDO wrote:

This is really promising. If we can bring BOTH shareholder and consumer pressure on corporations that use their deep pockets to support right wing candidates, there is a chance to limit the damage of corporate influence in elections. And then we can pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that corporations do not have the rights of persons.

This is a great story, and there has been plenty of great work done on this issue, by CREDO as well as MoveOn.org and others. As everyone interested in politics knows by now, Target's contribution to an anti-gay Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota was made possible by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizen's United v. FEC. The Brennan Center in particular has done amazing work on the issue of corporate political speech and warned specifically about the dangers of corporations spending political money without shareholder approval.

CREDO is right on the money when they call for shareholder pressure
on top of the consumer pressure that has been making Target pay the
price for supporting an anti-gay right-wing candidate. There is a
divergence of opinion, however, with regard to the feasibility of
pushing for a constitutional amendment.* Drafting the right
constitutional amendment to address this problem and then getting it
passed in three quarters of the states is a monumental task.

Thankfully, it's not the only tool we have to fight back with.

We–individuals–can
speak out, too, and raise money for candidates and committees that are
speaking out. You raised over $18,000 on ActBlue to help elect Annise Parker the
first openly gay mayor of any U.S. city in 2009. And although the fight
continues, your contributions totaling over $1 million to Equality for
All
were a major factor in the battle for marriage equality in
California, just as they were in Maine and Kalamazoo, MI and
elsewhere. The scale of the fundraising around these issues on ActBlue
made the intangible quantifiable; because of those efforts, there is now
a national conversation taking place about gay rights.

We can do something similar about Target. Reducing Target's effect on elections—if it's possible—would no doubt
improve our democracy. Just as effective (and arguably more satisfying)
would be to make sure the pile of cash they're spending in Minnesota
not only gets them into hot water, but is entirely wasted to boot.
ActBlue makes it possible for every one of us to be a part of that.
Together, our voices are louder than Target's. The attention we've
brought to Target's donation, and a similar donation by News Corp., the
parent company of Fox News, has re-focused attention on Citizens United
and the effects it has on our political system. In short, we've already
beaten them on the airwaves; all that remains is to defeat the
candidates they're propping up.

More speech. More money. The right money. It's an imperfect
system our Founders created for us—as are all human institutions—but as
we at ActBlue have been showing for six years, it's a pretty good system
for fighting back against entrenched interests until we have a more
perfect system. We just have to be willing to use the rules to our
advantage.

*On a personal note, as a longtime CREDO member—from over a decade ago
when it was just Working Assets and they only sold long distance
service—I worry about curtailing the free speech rights of corporations.
CREDO is a corporation, and for years I've been signing their citizen
letters to protect the environment, stop the war, hold Dick Cheney
accountable, and myriad other public policy concerns that matter to me.
It would be a tragedy if the goverment could tell CREDO that it has no
first amendment right to free speech or to petition the government for a
redress of greivances.

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