Abele Plans Veto of County Board's Citizens United Referendum
County Executive Chris Abele said the cost of adding the question to the ballot — at least $20,000 — is not worth an advisory referendum with no action behind it.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele plans to veto the county board's request for an advisory referendum regarding a well-known U.S. Supreme Court decision, citing the cost of adding it to the ballot.
The referendum refers to an oft-criticized 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, in which the court ruled that the First Amendment protected political spending by corporations and unions in elections. On Thursday, the board voted 14-4 in favor of an advisory referendum that would ask Milwaukee County residents whether they support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would essentially override the Supreme Court decision.
Abele spokesman Brendan Conway said the county executive agrees with the board's position on Citizens United, but the issue is that it would cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to add the question to the ballot.
"He is as against the Citizens United ruling as anybody," Conway said. But he doesn't support spending taxpayer money on an advisory referendum that would have zero impact, Conway said.
Whether the board will override the veto remains to be seen. The measure passed on a 14-4 vote; it takes two-thirds of the board (12 votes) to override.
A group of county supervisors released a statement Friday encouraging Abele to sign the resolution. They said it mirrors a referendum approved by West Allis voters earlier this year, and comes after six states have called on Congress to advance a Constitutional amendment.
"Thursday's 14-4 vote on the County Board puts us on record against allowing anonymous, unlimited monies to be spent in state and local elections," according to a news release.
"We have to do what’s right to protect our rights, because if money is speech, then there is no free speech."