Group asks Wichita Council to support curbs on corporate political spending

A small group of citizens asked the Wichita City Council to join a larger cause today — seeking a resolution for a constitutional amendment to strip corporations of their political personhood.


“We ask for your support in declaring that corporations are not people,” said Jane Byrnes, a dietitian and former candidate for state representative. About half a dozen supporters came to City Hall with her, and stood during her remarks although they were not allowed to speak.

The group, calling itself “We the People of Kansas,” is supporting campaigns by Public Citizen and Common Cause seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United. That ruling affirmed that corporations are considered people under the law and cleared the way for them to spend unlimited and undisclosed money on political campaigning.

“Following that ruling, in the 2010 elections, spending by outside groups rose at least 427 percent, about half of which went to secretive political committees which are not required to disclose their donors,” Byrnes said. “No corporation should be allowed to pump unlimited amounts of money into promoting one candidate or another, especially those (corporations) outside the region or the country.”

Although Byrnes ran for the Legislature as a Democrat, she said the issue she brought to the council is nonpartisan.

“There were Republicans, Democrats and independents in that group” at the council meeting, she said.