Famous Ice Cream Makers Support Bernie Sanders’ Bid to overturn Citizens United

Ben & Jerry slam 'shadowy money' while ignoring unions’ contributions to Sanders’ campaigns

Ben Cohen, left, and Jerry Greenfield
Ben Cohen, left, and Jerry Greenfield / AP
July 15, 2015

The Bernie Sanders campaign circulated an email Tuesday featuring famed ice-cream makers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield urging supporters to back his fight against the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

The email, stylized as a faux-text message between the two Vermont-based ice-cream makers, slammed corporate campaign contributions.

"The Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, and that they’re entitled to the same rights that people are. It’s called ‘corporate personhood,’" Cohen said.

"That’s ridiculous. And what it means is that this presidential election, there will be a whole mess of shadowy money and corporate contributions backing candidates and causes on both sides of the aisle," Greenfield said.

"Except for Bernie Sanders, of course. Bernie has led the fight to put an end to the corrupting influence of big money in our politics," Cohen says.

Cohen and Greenfield fail to mention that Citizens United has helped some of the socialist senator’s biggest supporters form Super PACs. The Supreme Court decision did not just allow companies to pour more money into political campaigns; the ruling also gave unions the same right.

The Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union, the Teamsters Union, United Auto Workers, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, and the Laborers Union are five of his top seven contributors throughout his career according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Three of those five have formed Super PACs in the wake of the ruling.

Since the 2010 ruling, Teamsters Education & Mobilization has raised $188,347, United Food & Commercial Workers Advocacy has raised $3,841,149, and LIUNA Building America (Laborers Union Super PAC) has raised $1,050,000.

Labor groups have been increasingly generous to Sanders’ senatorial campaigns. The Teamsters Union went from donating $12,500 in 2008 to $15,000 in the 2010 election cycle while the United Food & Commercial Workers Union went from donating $5,000 in 2008 to $10,500 during the 2010 election cycle.

"People thought we were crazy when we started putting dough into our ice cream," Greenfield said.

"But what’s really crazy is all the dough corporations are putting into politics," Cohen said.

The email concludes with a link to a Sanders petition for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and a note that the email was "paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires)."