Steve Lupo, of Shirley, is shown on Friday, Nov. 28,...

Steve Lupo, of Shirley, is shown on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Lupo heads the local chapter of the nascent grassroots nationwide effort Move to Amend. Credit: David L. Pokress

For the past six months, postal worker Steve Lupo literally carried out-of-control political spending -- in the form of countless campaign mailings -- on his shoulder as he made deliveries on his Shirley postal route.

But Lupo, 34, is trying to do something about it.

He heads the local chapter of the nascent grassroots nationwide effort Move to Amend, aimed at changing the U.S. Constitution in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision nearly five years ago in the Citizens United case. That decision said corporations and unions can spend as much as they want -- in the name of free speech -- as long as they do not coordinate with candidates.

"I don't feel it's a right or left issue," said Lupo, of Shirley, who once was a Republican and now is unaligned. "I'd relish the day when we can debate policy based on the power of the word, not the size of someone's wallet . . . There can no honest debate until we eliminate the corrupting influence of money."

Lupo heads the Brookhaven chapter of Move to Amend -- the only one on Long Island and one of six statewide trying to build momentum to get the needed congressional and state action to make a constitutional amendment happen. There are 150 chapters across the country.

That proposed amendment, sponsored by Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), says rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to artificial legal entities such as limited liability companies. Political campaign spending also would not be a protected form of speech under the First Amendment.

Rita Edwards, a local Move to Amend activist, said the group is struggling to get traction in the public mind. Edwards, a member of the local League of Women Voters, sought to recruit backers at the league's annual postelection brunch, only to learn that most did not even know that an effort to roll back the Citizens United ruling was underway. She enlisted five new volunteers.

To find the deluge of campaign money, it's necessary to look no further than the recent hotly contested battle in the 1st Congressional District. Some experts expect the final cost of the contest to both sides will exceed $15 million for a job that pays $174,000 a year.

Lupo said achieving "critical mass" is difficult with people often distracted by working two jobs and other issues. But he noted that the impact of political money touches all aspects of peoples' lives. "Sometimes I feel like a voice of sanity shouting into a force five hurricane," he said.

The local group tries to hold an event each month, such as protesting outside the Cohalan courthouse on the January anniversary of the Citizens United decision. They even held a fundraiser that collected about $3,500.

National Move to Amend officials say 16 state legislatures and more than 500 local governments support the idea of an amendment. Locally, Move to Amend activists sought a formal resolution from the Brookhaven Town board last year supporting an anti-Citizens United amendment. Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said nothing was put forward because the town board does not enact advisory resolutions on federal issues. However, Romaine said he wrote the group a "strong" personal letter backing the rollback. "Big money drowns out small voices," he said.

Edwards, a college librarian who at 87 still works part time, concedes winning reform by amendment is slow.

"It's a lifetime thing," she said. "It took the suffragettes from 1848 to 1920 to get their amendment and the vote."

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