Citizens’ Initiative Begins Officially in Wyoming

Wyoming Promise 5-16-17

The Wyoming Secretary of State has given final certification to a new citizens’ initiative seeking to get unaccountable money out of politics.

A recently-formed citizens group called Wyoming Promise fears that corporate and special interests have captured Congress and other legislative bodies through large campaign contributions, and wants to do something about it. It is hoping to get a citizens’ initiative placed on the November 2018 ballot so that Wyoming citizens can stand up and call for an amendment to the United States Constitution declaring that corporations are not people and money is not speech. On Monday, the Secretary of State verified that a sufficient number of Wyoming voters have agreed to sponsor this initiative, clearing the way to begin a statewide petition drive.

In order to get the initiative on the November, 2018 ballot, the sponsors of the measure must gather 38,818 valid signatures from registered Wyoming voters before February, 2018. The signatures must be collected from at least 16 of Wyoming’s 23 counties.

“This is going to take a major statewide effort,” says Ken Chestek, chair of the Wyoming Promise group. “We have already contacted many people all over the state who want this amendment, and we are confident that we will have people circulating petitions all over the state beginning in a few weeks.”

To date, 18 states have enacted measures calling on Congress to propose an amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the same political rights that human citizens have. Chestek said that such an amendment is needed before either Congress or the Wyoming Legislature can enact meaningful campaign finance reform legislation, since current Supreme Court interpretations of the United States Constitution allow corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to directly advocate on behalf of political candidates.

Both Colorado and Montana passed ballot measures in 2012 by wide margins (nearly 75% in favor), calling for that amendment. Citizens groups in least five states, including Wyoming, are now organizing initiative drives to push that number even higher. And several states, including Nevada, are close to making a similar call through legislative resolutions.