US Corporation Runs for Congress to Highlight Absurdity
“Campaign stunt launches a corporate ‘candidate’ for Congress”
John Wagner writes in the Washington Post this week about a new political campaign by a public relations company in the US State of Maryland. Executives of the firm ‘Murray Hill’, which describes itself as a ‘progressive’ public relations company and represents clients such as trade unions and environmental groups, has decided to run the firm itself as a candidate for elected office in order to highlight the absurdity of a recent US Supreme Court judgement. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals under the First Amendment when it comes to donating funds to political campaigns; so Murray Hill decided that if corporations have the same rights as people, then logically the decision meant they could run the company for elected office.
A statement from Murray Hill announced that, “Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington … But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves”. They say they that as the “first ‘corporate person’ to run for office [they promise] a spirited campaign that ‘puts people second, or even third’”. You can check out their Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Murray-Hill-Inc-for-Congress/314963396608 or their webpage and Youtube ad here: http://murrayhillincforcongress.com/
The firm is seeking to register as a Republican candidate, saying that “we feel the Republican Party is more receptive to our basic message that corporations are people, too”. Of course, this has gained support from the Democratic Representative who already holds the seat, with his spokesman saying that, “The majority on the Court has made a mockery of our campaign finance laws, and Murray Hill is just mocking the mockers”. As a political campaign, the stunt has already been highly successful. The Murray Hill Youtube ad has been watched by hundreds of thousands of people, and I’m blogging about it from the other side of the world. But the campaign is not over yet, and the message being sent out both highlights the absurdity of the Supreme Court’s decision, as well as the dangers that American democracy faces.
Technically Murray Hill may face some insurmountable problems. You have to be a registered Republican to run in their Primary election, and Murray Hill’s application has been refused. There are also problems in that to be a candidate you must be a US citizen, and must be at least 25 years-of-age (Murray Hill is only 5 years old…). But the firm is going to launch legal action to argue the corporation does meet the spirit of these requirements, and it may run as an independent candidate rather than a Republican. But if these are the only conditions that end up defeating Murray Hill’s run for office, then they have truly highlighted the huge problems posed by the recent rulings.
As John Wagner writes, if a corporation running for office is plausible, “Why not have an accounting firm run for comptroller, the state’s chief tax collector? Why not a law firm for attorney general? The winning firm could arrive in office with a full cadre of associates and save taxpayers money”. The complete corporatisation of the state may be even closer than expected. Murray Hill is also encouraging other companies to join its movement, with a tool kit available for other campaigners. As the Murray Hill ad says, voters may soon be participating in “the best democracy money can buy”.