81-year-old Rhana Bazzini marches across Florida in support of campaign finance reform

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More than 100 supporters of the “Move to Amend” effort were on hand at the Florida Capitol when 81-year old Rhana Bazzini completed a 431-mile protest march from Sarasota to Tallahassee. The six-week walk was a way for the former first-grade school teacher to call attention to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision.

“People are not corporations,” said Bazzini about the 2010 ruling that allows unlimited amount of money to be funneled into elections.

“People from the Tea Party to the Occupy Movement all agree on getting money out of politics. They don’t always agree on how to do it but at least they agree on the issue,” said Bazzini.

Bazzini is a widow and started the walk Oct. 13, her son’s 56 th birthday. She explained she finally has a chance to become an activist and is interested in a host of issues.

“I had a wheel in my mind and all the spokes were the issues that we care about and I felt … (the hub) were the politicians who make the decisions that affect the issues,” said Bazzini about why she supports stricter campaign finance rules.

The Move to Amend movement began in the wake of the Citizens United decision and has about 120 affiliates nationwide.

“Every systemic change in this country was launched by ordinary people,” David Cobb of Move to Amend told the crowd who had gathered to greet Bazzini.

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard University Constitutional Law professor said that fewer than 200 contributors spent more than $10 million on Congressional races. He explained that Citizens United gave about 150,000 people, less than 0.05 percent of the population “enormous power over our system and they can block any change. We have a stalemated government.”

Lessig said a recent survey found that 96 percent of people think it is important to reduce the influence of money in politics but that 91 percent think it is not possible. He points to citizens like Bazzini as change agents rallying people to change the system.

“The thing that Rhana B has done here is to raise awareness and get people committed to this,” said Lessig. “We don’t have to convince anybody, people already believe the government is corrupted. All we have to do is show them there is a way to fix it.”

Lessig supports Congress passing a law to decentralize the funding of campaigns. He and others are planning a march across New Hampshire in January.

“There’s going to be four walks, one from the north, three from the south (each) with about 300- 400 people  that go from different parts of the state that converge on Concord on the fifth anniversary of Citizens United,” said Lessig.

Lessig said the activists are focusing on New Hampshire as a way to force 2016 presidential candidates to take a stand on campaign finance reform.