Ben & Jerry 2011 1

Keeping Political Power in the Hands of the People

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are well known as champions of equity and environmental responsibility. They have worked tirelessly for fair trade practices that help farmers in developing countries earn a fair wage and for green energy initiatives to reduce our global carbon footprint. Now, they are fighting for the core principle of democracy: government by the people.

Cohen and Greenfield are leading a collaborative business movement to counter Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, a controversial 2010 United States Supreme Court ruling that reversed years of precedent limiting how corporations spend money to influence elections. The reversal allows corporations to spend unlimited money to support or oppose political candidates and paves the way for greater corporate influence in politics, at the expense of individual voters.

Cohen, a founding member of SVN, and Greenfield worked with the American Sustainable Business Council (led by SVN member David Levine) to launch the “Business for Democracy” campaign, and convened more than two dozen other leading organizations, including Social Venture Network, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm, White Dog Café, Trillium Asset Management, TerraCycle, and IceStone, to show that businesses oppose the idea that they should have more of a say than voters in how our country is run. These partners in turn are enlisting other businesses to stand up for democracy.

“The power is taken out of the people’s hands when corporations are able to support candidates without any restraints. Citizens United gives companies far too much influence in a process which is intended for people, not corporations.” - Jerry Greenfield

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