Defiance Group Seeks Ballot Initiative To Curb Power Of Big Business

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 7, 2012 Updated Aug 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM EDT

DEFIANCE, Ohio (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The Occupy movement re-surfaced Tuesday in Defiance Ohio, where reformers turned in signatures for a ballot initiative.

It’s part of a bigger crusade to limit the influence of powerful corporations.

For a month and a half, representatives of “Occupy Defiance” canvassed neighborhoods in Defiance County, collecting 866 signatures.

The Supreme Court two years ago gave corporations new free speech rights and more advertising and lobbying clout.

" So now they can spend unlimited amounts of money in the election process, and we think this needs to be overturned, and that's what we're trying to start off with," says Roger Molnar with “Occupy Defiance”.

The ballot initiative would seek a change to the Defiance city charter, by establishing that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

The group says efforts are underway to get similar legislation on ballots in 250 other communities around the country.

The bigger goal is getting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Defiance County Board of Elections will review the local petitions and could decide to put the question to voters.

" If it is a valid issue and has correct amounts of signatures, and all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed," says Pam Schroeder, Director of the Defiance County Board of Elections.

The Occupy movement nationwide champions the message, “End Corporate Personhood”.

The group’s members in Defiance County say local employers, providing good paying jobs for their area, are not the problem.

" But global corporations are part of a different club altogether. They are the ones that are at the root of this evil," says Dolores Whitman, with “Occupy Defiance”.

The Board of Elections will take up the ballot initiative issue at its next meeting August 14th.

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