PORT ANGELES -- Picketers stood outside the local office of Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) Aug. 10 holding signs that read "Fight corporate dictatorship" and "End corporate personhood."
The protest, one of 150 across the nation sponsored by MoveOn.org, urged Dicks to sign on to a pledge to support legislation that would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's so-called Citizens United decision. That 5-4 ruling in effect repealed all limits on corporate spending to influence elections. It nullified a century of legal precedent curbing corporations from using their cash to buy political power in federal, state, and local governments. One picketer held a sign, "Please, Norm, stand with us, the other 98 percent."
Bill Kildall, a MoveOn Clallam County coordinator , stood on the steps of Dicks' office with a bullhorn and told the crowd it is time to end "lobbyist dominated corruption" in Washington, D.C. by overturning Citizens United, by passing the Fair Election Act to "restore citizen representation" and passing reform legislation that curbs "corporate lobby influence."
Richard Gray, Clallam County MoveOn leader told the crowd a delegation had met with Dick's local aide, Judith Morris. "She was very responsive, listened to us and I think she will transmit our message to Norm Dicks," Gray said. "She is very clearly mindful of the terrible influence that corporations have on our government."
Indeed, Morris told the delegation that Dicks has joined in the search for legislation that would reverse the Citizens United "corporate personhood" ruling without infringing on First Amendment freedom of speech.
Kildall praised Dicks for listening to his constituents in endorsing single-payer "Medicare For All" during the intense debate on health care reform last fall and urged Dicks to step forward and lead the fight to curb corporate corruption in Washington D.C.
Dicks, first elected to the House in 1977 and considered a shoo-in for reelection, is in line to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee if the Democrats retain majority control in the Nov. 2 midterm elections. Yet Dicks is in many ways a "poster-child" of corporate influence. The House Ethics Committee last February cleared Dicks and two other House members of charges that they steered $200 million in defense contracts to a now-defunct lobbying firm, PMA. Boeing, the defense-aerospace giant has contributed $142,250 to Dicks' campaign coffers since 1989 earning him the sobriquet, "gentleman from Boeing." Dicks has raked in a combined $700,000 in contributions from defense corporations since 1989.
Joyce Wheeler, a retired school teacher who lives in nearby Sequim, told Morris that MoveOn.org and other progressive movements are growing stronger on the North Olympic Peninsula. "MoveOn held a town hall meeting in Sequim with over 200 people in the spring and last year we organized a meeting at Sequim High School with 735 people," she said. Sam Woods, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, interjected, "We are the grassroots. This is a movement of the people. This corporate control can't go on. It is destroying democracy. We want our country back."
Photo: Tim Wheeler