Four years after the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United, surveys and polls continue to show the American people believe the decision was wrong. Those polls also reflect a deep concern that big money contributions by corporations and wealthy donors have endangered fair access to the political process and law-making. In addition, there is a strong sense among those polled that Citizens United is harmful to equal representation and political participation.
To date, citizen responses to Citizens United have included a wide range of ideas—some of them conflicting—along with a number of proposed reforms. All of these responses demonstrate how Americans strive to preserve political traditions, develop new forms of activism and create civic-minded organizations in order to ensure that the voice of the people is heard.
In an effort to educate, inform and encourage public discussion on the ramifications of this landmark decision, local nonprofits A2Ethics (www.a2ethics.org) and the Interfaith Partnership for Political Action (www.ippa.us), have planned a series of presentations. The first of these, scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, 2014, will feature Robert A.G. Monks and Jeffrey Clements, two nationally recognized proponents of citizen-initiated efforts to overturn Citizens United.
Both speakerswill discuss the Supreme Court’s decision as well as their ongoing efforts to inform the public about the impact of corporate governance, corporate organization and corporate behavior on all segments of our society. Their presentations, followed by a Q and A session, will be held at the Ann Arbor District Library Malletts Creek Branch from 7pm-8:30pm.
About the Speakers
Robert A.G. Monks, author of nine books, most recently, Citizens DisUnitedandTrusting Harvard, is a world-renowned expert on shareholder rights and responsibility, corporate governance, government capture, investor stewardship and corporate societal impact. He served in the Reagan administration and has held several government positions, among them chief administrator in the Office of Pension and Welfare Benefit Programs in the Department of Labor.
Mr. Monks has also been a force in the business and legal worlds, founding three companies recognized as leaders or pioneers in their fields: GMI Ratings, Institutional Shareholder Services and Lens Governance Advisors. GMI Ratings provides global data-driven coverage of environmental, social, governance and accounting-related risks affecting the performance of public companies–research used to assess sustainability and other social standards of corporate citizenship. Mr. Monks makes regular posts to his blog at www.ragm.com.
Jeffrey Clements, an attorney and author of Corporations Are Not People is a nationally respected leader in the movement to challenge the broad and expansive Constitutional rights increasingly accorded by our nation’s courts to corporations. As president and co-founder of Free Speech for People (www.freespeechforpeople.org), Mr. Clements serves as a preeminent spokesperson for a growing network of citizens committed to ensuring that legal practices and interpretation of laws are in harmony with the best interests of the public—rather than favoring corporations and other special interest groups.
Mr. Clements’ legal practice encompasses the private and public sectors in both Massachusetts and Maine. Before founding his own firm, he was a partner in the Boston firm of Mintz Levin. In 1996, he joined the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, where he worked on litigation against the tobacco industry. From 2007 to 2009, as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, he directed the 100+ staff of attorneys charged with the enforcement of environmental, financial services, civil rights and consumer protection laws in the Commonwealth.
Mr. Clements also served in the Maine Attorney General’s Office and, subsequently, as president of the Board of Trustees for the Portland Water District. A longtime promoter of civic efforts to protect Maine waterways, he co-founded the prominent environmental advocacy organization, Friends of Casco Bay.