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Montana Farm Bureau in strong opposition of I-166

The recently proposed Initiative 166, although couched in campaign finance reform rhetoric, would hurt small business and family farmers and ranchers, according to the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

“This is not about finance reform and banning corporate money in campaigns, it’s about constitutional rights,” says John Youngberg, Montana Farm Bureau’s vice president of governmental affairs. Youngberg explains many small businesses, which include family farms and ranches, are incorporated for tax and insurance purposes, but hardly could be classified as “big corporations.”

“The language is so broad this would mean many folks, even if a small Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or non-profit 501 (c) 3, would be deprived of their rights granted by our U.S. Constitution,” notes Youngberg. “For instance, if there was a water rights case on your ranch, and you’re a family corporation or LLC, you may not be granted the right to due process of the law or be afforded equal protection.”

Without due process farmers and ranchers wouldn’t be able to protect their property rights. Would this mean a family farm or ranch in Montana would no longer have the Fifth Amendment right to just compensation when their property is taken through eminent domain? Does this mean that protection from ‘search and seizure’ goes out the window?” Youngberg questions. “This has very serious implications for many Montana business owners and especially those folks in agriculture.”

In addition, the initiative puts the onus on elected officials to monitor campaign contributions—and the fact they would be in violation of the law if they didn’t.

“Certainly the U.S. Supreme Court had it right in saying that corporations can contribute, but that contribution must be reported so they are transparent. But to say a “corporation’ can’t make a donation because they’re not a person is wrong,” Youngberg cautions. “Restricting the constitutional rights of someone just because they formed an LCC or family corporation is dangerous. It’s a road fraught with danger that the people of Montana should not want to follow.”

3 Responses to “Montana Farm Bureau in strong opposition of I-166”

  1. Lorna & Orv Karn says:

    I thought I heard that the sponsors of I-166 were needing to get signatures to put it on the ballot and they have until sometime in June to get those signatures. If people just do not sign the petition it won’t get on the ballot, so why not just tell people to don’t sign the petition?

    • Tahj Kjelland says:

      They are close to having what is needed. This initiative has been one of the more popular ballot initiatives in some time ..

  2. Tahj Kjelland says:

    This is in response to Citizen’s United and the attack upon The Corrupt Practices Act. Unlimited donations directly to candidates? What does transparent donations mean when you have bought and paid for a candidate. How does the average citizen’s vote count when the constituent becomes one large corporate citizen as apposed to the rest of us? You make some good points in regards to small LLC’s and other incorporated entities in terms of constitutional rights but the real problem is the mega-corps that threatening our democracy and later affecting policy. We have seen many unsettling large corporate policy changes over and over, the banking sector and the FDA are just a few of the examples. Smaller LLC’s and corporate entities I feel will be fine in the long run its the big picture that we are faced to deal with now. The 1976 supreme court ruling that enabled money as speech opening Citizens United and unlimited spending. We have no other options on the table? How do we change this, I am open to options, because a constitutional convention may only cause more issues. The question I have ties in to large corporations dictating policy after they have copper collared a politician is; do you as the Farm Bureau support Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Executive as the Deputy Commissioner for the FDA?

    Thank you for your time and ears : )

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