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Swamps are defined as forested wetlands. They are an essential part of the earth’s ecosystem. When balanced, they filter the water and air and provide habitat for birds and animals. But when pollutants and excessive nutrients flood into a swamp it can become a festering cesspool. Invasive species like the Burmese python have invaded the Florida Everglades and has thrown the natural order out of balance.

Our political swamp has become out of balance. Money has flooded in and polluted Washington, D.C. and our state capitals. Like the python, lobbyist for corporations, unions, and special interests slither through the halls of power. Unregulated big and dark money from PACs and super PACS flows into our elections and the side doors and back rooms in our capitals.

Money has been creeping into the political swamp for a long time. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates in its Citizens United ruling. It ruled that money is protected speech and corporations are people.

Corporate persons, including PACs, Super PACs, unions, corporations, nonprofits, etc. have the right to spend unlimited money. The ruling overturned most campaign finance regulations at the federal and state levels.

However, natural people are still limited in their political contributions. Wealthy people can form PACs, LLCs and “nonprofits” and use them finance outside expenditures with little or no regulation or disclosure.

Politicians can form their own PAC and collect unlimited money. They cannot spend that money on their own races. But can contribute to other PACs, or LLCs or nonprofit organizations or spend it in support of other politicians if the money is not “coordinated” with politicians’ campaigns (wink, wink, nod, nod).

American Promise and many other organizations are working to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to allow the federal and state governments to regulate the flow of money and invasive lobbyist and bring balance back into our political ecosystem.

Twenty states have passed resolutions requesting Congress to pass an amendment. American Promise Minnesota is working with cities and counties to pass resolutions instructing their representative and senators to pass a resolution. The West Metro Chapter volunteers are working with Chaska, Chanhassen and Eden Prairie on resolutions.

Another effort is the American Promise Candidate & Elected Official Pledge. The pledge states that the elected official or when a candidate is elected, they will use their office to promote and ratify a Constitutional Amendment. The pledge drive was started for this election season in June. As of the Fourth of July, 26 elected officials and candidates have signed the pledge from five parties and non-partisan offices. Signers are members or candidates for city council, county board, Minnesota House, Minnesota Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

Jay Johnson

Chanhassen

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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