21 Aug 2014
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Council Approves Referendum on ‘Citizens United’

The Evanston city council voted unanimously to approve an advisory referendum on corporate campaign contributions that will appear on the November ballot.

Council Approves Referendum on ‘Citizens United’

Evanston aldermen voted to approve an advisory referendum on limitations to corporate political contributions, which will appear on the November ballot.

The city council voted 6-0 to approve the referendum at a special meeting Thursday night, according to city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and aldermen Judy Fiske (1st Ward), Peter Braithwaite (2nd Ward) and Donald Wilson (4th Ward) were absent. 

The council's vote comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in May. The court held that placing limits on corporate donations to political entities was an infringement of free speech.  

Suggested by Ald. Coleen Burrus, the referendum will ask voters whether Congress should pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing state and federal governments to restrict those sorts of donations.

Thursday night’s meeting, which was held at the  , took just 11 minutes, according to Bobkiewicz. Two public speakers asked why aldermen wanted to put the referendum on the ballot, but no one spoke up for or against it, he said.

State law requires local governments to approve referenda within 79 days of the next election in order to get it on the ballot. To put this referendum on the Nov. 6, 2012, ballot, aldermen had to adopt the legislation by Monday, Aug. 20. 

The city council has already taken a stand on Citizen’s United. In May, aldermen adopted a resolution expressing opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case. 

The resolution will appear on the ballot as follows: “Shall the U.S. Congress pass a bill, to be duly ratified by three-fourths (¾) of the states, adopting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?”


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