Corporations wield exorbitant power with their unlimited funds and ability to pour those funds into sources that benefit their best interest. So why would anyone want to give them the ability to wield more power, say, in the form of a vote? Rep. Steve Lavin (R) believes that corporations should have the same rights as individuals. Last week, the Montana state legislator introduced a bill that would give corporations the right to vote in municipal elections.
The bill would give any non-citizen “firm, partnership, company or corporation,” owning property within the district, the right to vote as a citizen of that district. Which means that Exxon and Walmart, for example, would be given the same amount of influence in a municipal election as members of the community are given.
Corporations influence everything from climate change denial to redistricting. They get bail-outs from the government, move their money offshore to avoid paying US taxes, and pour dark money into organizations and think tanks that represent their bottom line. For example, it was recently discovered that some of the nation’s largest corporations, including Pfizer, Exxon, and Time Warner, donated over a million dollars to create the Republican non-profit group, State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF).
The group’s donors list, disclosed to ProPublica by the IRS, was submitted to the IRS as part of the foundation’s application for tax exempt status. Since the status was eventually approved, the documents became public records. The group has most recently been associated with paying for Republican redistricting in North Carolina, attacking President Obama’s energy policy, funding television adds against Democrats, and accusing teachers unions of “destroying our children’s future.”
Although the bill has been tabled for now, the implications of allowing corporations the same voting rights as individual citizens are frightening. And the sad truth of the matter is that corporate interests are more than adequately represented, without them ever having to vote.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.