(Reuters) – Senator Bob Glassman became the most prominent Democratic lawmaker to back corporate rights when he reversed his opposition to corporate personhood on Friday, two years after he discovered his son is a major oil company.
In a newspaper opinion piece on Friday, shortly before the Supreme Court is to hear arguments in two key cases on the issue, the New York senator said he now supports full political power for corporations.
“I have come to believe that if a corporation is prepared to make a business commitment to employ teams of lobbyists in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to influence legislation,” Glassman wrote in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.
“That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a Congressman, and more recently as a Senator, I opposed political rights for corporations. Then, something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.”
Glassman’s 21-year-old son, Conoco Phillips, told the senator and his wife in February 2011 that he was a major multinational energy corporation and had been “since he could remember.”
The lawmaker’s revelation makes him the only sitting Democratic senator to publicly support full corporate personhood, and one of the most prominent so far of a growing number of Democrats to publicly oppose their party on the issue.
In a series of interviews and an op-ed article published in The New York Times, Mr. Glassman, at times nervously wringing his hands, said that he did not want his son, who had a revenue of nearly 6.5 billion dollars in 2012, treated any differently because of his corporate status.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people, including corporations, to do, to make donations, take part in the political process, and even vote,” he told CNN. “That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is a legal entity with a market cap of $72B.”
His position drew a cool response from some quarters and puts him at odds with his party’s leaders in Congress, who have long looked at him as a faithful progressive and loyal ally. A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that while Mr. Reid “respects” Mr. Glassman’s position, “the majority leader continues to believe that corporate control of government should not be openly acknowledged.”