Letter: Influence of wealthy needs to be checked

I followed the spring legislative session in Louisiana closely because of my concerns with issues about health care, criminal justice, education and the environment — to name a few. Everywhere I looked, I saw the influence of big money. CEOs and corporations used their extraordinary wealth to railroad over our human rights just to safeguard their own private interests despite the fact that they pollute and poison our environment, keep us locked in prisons, starve us of health care, starve us of decent living wages, starve us of a decent education and the list goes on.

I watched testimony after testimony from “Koch-backed” Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party that killed any legislation to increase public health coverage; testimony after testimony from oil and gas companies playing our elected politicians — the same politicians WE PAY good salaries to — like puppets on a string to kill environmental restoration.

If turnouts over the weekend showing “Koch Bros. Exposed” — a 2012 US documentary, compiled by Robert Greenwald — is any indication, extreme wealth disparity and the money that corrupts politics is very much on the minds of Americans.

I urge Sen. Mary Landrieu to listen to the people’s wish and vote yes on S.J. Res. 19, which calls for a constitutional amendment to re-establish the authority of Congress and the states to regulate and limit campaign spending. The Senate is expected to vote later this summer. Already, 43 senators have joined as sponsors.

The amendment would overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and its misguided holding that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as real, live, breathing human beings to influence election outcomes. It would overturn McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, with its holding that the only justification for limits on campaign donations is to prevent criminal bribery. And it would overturn Buckley v. Valeo — the case holding that “money equals speech.”

I hope that Landrieu is willing to level the playing field for her constituents by not allowing unlimited amounts of private money to be donated to public campaigns so that elected officials are truly representatives of the people.

Janet Hays

human rights advocate

New Orleans