Montana has a long and sad history of dark money influencing our elections and democracy. A century ago, a handful of extremely wealthy people called the Copper Kings used their power and influence to buy politicians or simply buy themselves into office. At every step, they saw to it that the law benefited themselves, not working people.

Over time and with much struggle, Montanans got wise to their corruption and managed to pass some of the best campaign finance laws in the nation to make sure would-be Copper Kings could not simply buy themselves into office.

But now, the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizen United decision holding that corporations are people and have the right to “free speech” through the expenditure of unlimited, dark money undid everything we had right with campaign finance in Montana. The Supreme Court’s decision was flat wrong. 

I am in the strong majority on this issue. In 2012, we overwhelmingly passed I-166 (75 percent to 25 percent) which read: “Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings,” and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy. I-166 was a loud-and-clear statement by the people of Montana to their elected officials that they need to take action to overturn Citizens United. Senator Tester is working in Washington to fulfill the will of the people. Representative Gianforte, not so much. Since being elected, he has not taken any action to overturn Citizens United, nor has he even taken a public stance.

If you love all of the political attack ads on television and the nasty, anonymous political mailers that flood your mailbox, then you can thank the U.S. Supreme Court and keep our current representative in office. I pledge to support the will of Montanans and will work to end this irresponsible decision as my first order of business.

John Heenan