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LETTERS

We still give license to expensive speech in name of free speech

Demonstrators protest at the John J. Moakley US Courthouse in Boston on Jan. 20, 2012, as part of nationwide events planned to coincide with the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Demonstrators protest at the John J. Moakley US Courthouse in Boston on Jan. 20, 2012, as part of nationwide events planned to coincide with the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Re “Money (and the lack of it) talks,” Shirley Leung’s Jan. 12 front-page commentary: Corporate campaign contributions have been blessed by the Supreme Court as free speech and justified as a legitimate expression of corporate values. But they’re fundamentally different from the small contributions we make to candidates who reflect our values and aspirations. Big money is about a different set of values and aspirations — influence and control. To ignore this, as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision did, is to give license to expensive speech in the name of free speech.

If withholding money from the worst actors in Congress surrounding the events of Jan. 6 is all that we do, shame on us. We need an examination of the role that money plays in politics, and that role is corrosive.

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Basic fact: To serve in Congress, you need to spend hours daily reaching out to potential donors. Both parties have call centers — the sites were recently targeted for pipe bombs — near the Capitol so that their members can take a break from being our voices in Washington to fuel campaigns and to gain influence because of the size of their war chest.

Elections require an end to the pay-to-play disenfranchisement of the many by the few. Elections are a public good worthy of protection from those who would bend it to their interests.

Jay Kaufman

Lexington

The writer is a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and founding president of the nonprofit Beacon Leadership Collaborative.