- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A new grassroots group is launching a campaign to get Alaska political leaders and candidates to sign a pledge declaring that only people have rights, and not corporations and unions.

The We the People Alaska coalition was beginning its effort Monday in 11 communities, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Kenai, Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/FUDOo0) reported.

“It’s really about influence,” said Gershon Cohen, who backed a successful ballot initiative in Haines last year that took a stand against “corporate personhood.”

“It’s about going to Juneau and having a hard time figuring out who are the legislators and who are the lobbyists.”

Cohen said his group is trying to raise the nation’s consciousness in the hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn a 2010 decision. The high court ruled that corporations, unions and other entities had a free-speech right to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns as long as they didn’t work directly with a candidate.

Cohen said if enough members of the next state Legislature sign the pledge, it could ease the way to a new law that would define people as individual human beings. That could establish a legal basis for eventual restrictions on lobbying campaign spending by corporations and unions, he said.

The coalition says large corporations that spend on political campaigns and lobbying are too powerful. The group wants to lay a foundation for restricting that influence.

The coalition plans to post information about who has signed the pledge on its website. The group plans to ask candidates for Congress, the state Legislature and the governor’s office to make the pledge.

Alaskans who have endorsed the effort include Arliss Sturgulewski, a former state senator and GOP candidate for governor; Vic Fischer, a former state senator and state constitutional convention delegate; and Rod Arno, executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council.

___

Online:

http://wethepeoplealaska.org/

___

Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com