Constitutional crusader returns to 'core' of support in Duluth

June 14, 2016
Brady Slater

By now, David Cobb's visits to Duluth are enough to garner the attention of mainstream politics.

"We started out with 12 people in a living room in 2010," said Cobb of his movement to limit the influence of money on elections by amending the Constitution. "Now we've got 75 affiliates with 405,000 people and growing."

The founder of the Texas-based Move to Amend brought with him to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation this week a taped message from Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby. The 8th District congressman's video address played in advance of Cobb's speech to about 20 supporters.

"There are powerful political forces pushing back," Nolan said in his video address. "... The future of our democracy is at stake."

In April 2015, Nolan introduced a constitutional amendment that would deny corporations the rights of natural persons — a response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision from 2010 that granted corporations the right to personhood and access to spending more money on elections.

So far, Nolan's measure has garnered 20 co-sponsors, including one Republican. Considering it would require a two-thirds vote in both sides of Congress to prevail, it's got a ways to go.

"This is a growing national movement and growing movements take time," Nolan said in his video address.

In his unending quest to add supporters, Cobb toured into Duluth for a movie screening and some other networking. He called Duluth a special place for Move to Amend and "part of the core group."

The Duluth City Council resolved in 2011 to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.

The court decision turned "the greatest deliberative governing body in the world into a telemarketing fundraising operator," Cobb said during his stop in Duluth, where the group of supporters included one-time high school science teacher Virgil Boehland of Esko.

As a teacher, Boehland was fond of using props. For the audience on Monday, he held a glass jar full of beads — that he spilled out to reveal they were all part of the same string.

"It demonstrates what an organization can do when people are working together," Boehland said.

Cobb believes Move to Amend will succeed with its tall task because his supporters are unified, he said, and not spilling into all different directions.

"All we need is enough people," Cobb said, "and there's going to be a tipping point."


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