Increased spending in recent election cycles has propelled some to counter what they see as the disproportionate rise in political influence among special interests and wealthy Americans. In Arkansas, several citizen activist organizations have just teamed up to form the Arkansas Democracy Coalition, seeking to “work towards regaining control over campaign finance spending, eliminating corporate personhood and undoing the damage to our election system this mistaken idea has wrought.”
Arkansas just experienced one of the most expensive election campaign seasons in its history. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearly 63.5 million dollars were spent in Arkansas's U. S. Senate Race alone, with 39.9 million dollars spent by outside groups.
“And unfortunately, a lot of that money came from dark money sources. A lot of it came from Super PAC's, which have very poor disclosure turn around...and only a fraction of that money came from actual people,” says Paul Spencer, one of the founders of the Arkansas Democracy Coalition.
Spencer also founded Regnat Populus, which has campaigned for stronger ethics rules through the initiative process. He says the Arkansas Democracy Coalition will unite various citizen groups under the banner of reducing political spending by corporations and rich donors.
“Not matter how many [citizen] groups you have, they're all going to advocate for something different....almost all of these groups understand that until their voice is no longer drowned out by the special interest money that you really don't have much of a chance to achieve our specific goals,” he says.
The Arkansas Democracy Coalition and Regnat Populus will screen a film and hold a discussion featuring Jeff Clements, an author, founder of Free Speech for People and noted critic of so-called “corporate personhood.” It will take place November 19th at the Clinton School of Public Service.
You can read the coalition's Statement of Intent here.