Group calls on Quist, Gianforte to fight Citizens United

Democrat Rob Quist, left, and Republican Greg Gianforte will square off in a special election for Montana’s seat in Congress.

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

As Montana gears up to elect a new congressman to the U.S. House, a Missoula organization is calling on the two appointed candidates to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech.

Missoula Moves to Amend points to a 2012 ballot initiative in which 75 percent of Montana voters instructed the state’s congressional delegation to support a possible 28th Amendment, ensuring that people – not corporate money or special interests – have the greatest say in the nation’s capital.

“We’re asking that every candidate comply with the will of the people of Montana and pledge to support and advance a cross-partisan 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to put our government back in the hands of the people,” said Sue Kirchmyer of Missoula Moves to Amend. “Montana is of critical importance in the movement to get corporations and big money out of politics.”

This week, Montana Republican leaders gave their party’s nomination to technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte. Likewise, Montana Democratic leaders put their faith behind political newcomer Rob Quist, a musician best known for his role in the Mission Mountain Wood Band.

With the candidates now selected, advocates of a constitutional amendment are calling on Gianforte and Quist to “Stand with Montanans,” and they’ve begun circulating a petition under that name.

It has the support of former state Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and former Bozeman mayor Jeff Krauss.

“Our next representative can and must stand with the people of Montana in support of a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the group wrote in its petition. “We encourage voters to support only candidates who pledge to follow Montana voters’ call for a 28th Amendment to put government back in the hands of the people.”

Like Montana, 18 other states and nearly 800 cities and towns across the country have called for passage and ratification of the 28th Amendment. Advocates suggest the grassroots support demonstrates strong bipartisan support for change.

In Montana, each of the state’s 56 counties passed I-166 in 2012.

“No matter what political party the new member of Congress comes from, they should Stand with Montana and support a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and set reasonable limits on election spending,” said Kirchmyer.

Tina Olechowski, spokesperson for Quist, said the Democrat supports the amendment.

“Rob Quist supports an amendment to overturn Citizens United because Montanans want less money in politics, not more,” said Olechowski. “That is in stark contrast to New Jersey multimillionaire Greg Gianforte who supports special interests and dark money flooding our elections.”

Gianforte’s campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com