During a speech earlier this week supporting Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, former President Bill Clinton drew attention to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s obsession with keeping big money in politics.
Clinton questioned McConnell’s commitment to public service in light of remarks McConnell made during a closed-door meeting to a roomful of billionaires in which he said that the day the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill passed was the “worst day” of his political life:
How can that be the worst day of your life, even if you thought it was a bad idea? That was worse than 9/11? That was than the day we had the biggest crash since the Great Depression?…Wouldn’t you feel sick if you spent 30 years representing Kentucky in the Senate, and the worst day of your life was when there was an honest attempt to limit black-bag operations from foreign billionaires from buying your elections?
It should come as no surprise to voters, then, that McConnell has pushed an agenda that routinely favors corporate interests over Kentuckians. His willingness to sacrifice the needs of his constituents to support big businesses was put on display when he helped to lead the opposition against the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United that was voted on in the Senate last month.
McConnell’s careless remarks about his “worst day” say a lot about the danger of big money in our elections. Through public demonstrations, petition deliveries and rallies, PFAW members and local activists have been working hard to spotlight McConnell’s devotion to wealthy special interests, and show Kentuckians that their needs have never been his primary concern. Without limits on spending to influence elections by deep-pocketed special interests, corporations and the super wealthy are given free rein to buy elections and stack the political deck against the will of the American people.
On Thursday, PFAW members joined MoveOn.org, Kentucky AFL-CIO, and other activists to protest Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pro-corporate agenda outside of a high-dollar fundraiser for the senator featuring Mitt Romney. The exclusive event was priced at $1,000-$5,000 a ticket.
Activists, standing up against big money in politics, called for Sen. McConnell to listen to Kentuckians and not just to the billionaires and corporations that fund his politics. They held signs that read “Ditch Mitch” and “Corporations are not People.”
Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan joined the protest, along with PFAW organizers and grassroots activists.
LEXINGTON, KY — Thursday afternoon, People For the American Way members and activists joined members of MoveOn.org, Kentucky AFL-CIO, and other allies to protest Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pro-corporate agenda outside of a high-dollar fundraiser for the senator featuring Mitt Romney. Tickets for the Mitt and Mitch event were priced at $1,000-$5,000 a ticket.
Activists called for Sen. McConnell to listen to the voices of everyday Kentuckians rather than pushing an agenda that benefits billionaires and corporations.
Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan was on-site at the protest along with PFAW organizers and grassroots activists.
“This fundraiser is just one more example of how Sen. McConnell focuses on the interests of the millionaires and billionaires who fund his campaign,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “But as we saw at the protest, Kentuckians are standing up against his billionaire-funded politics that only allow the most privileged to be heard.”
Republican senators again filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act yesterday, an act that would provide women with additional tools to identify and fight back against pay discrimination. This is the fourth time that Republicans have blocked this bill, despite the persistence of unequal pay for women and men doing the same work.
It’s been over 50 years since the signing of the Equal Pay Act, yet, this unconscionable practice of paying women employees less than men for doing the same job continues to this day.
In Congress, though, Republicans derided the measure as a “show vote” staged by Democrats in an election year. Sen. Mitch McConnell even claimed this bill “threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help.” But for women working full-time and earning an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn, this bill would give them the tools to fight back against the pay discrimination that keeps them earning less.
Women are increasingly serving as the primary breadwinners for their households, which means the discrepancy in pay harms not only women’s lives, but also their families. The Paycheck Fairness Act is the best way to start fixing that injustice. Republican senators should stop the unnecessary filibusters so that the Senate can pass this bill and move our country towards equal pay for equal work.
On Friday, PFAW members and local activists came out to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s West Louisville campaign office to hold him accountable for his support of big money in politics and for voting against the Democracy For All Amendment during this week’s Senate vote.
The rally included PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval, along with MoveOn Council’s Ann Hardman, University of Louisville’s College Democrats President Connor Allen, and local activist Bonifacio “Flaco” Aleman. Activists had a giant “King Mitch” holding fake money and signs saying “Money Is Not Speech” and “Mitch: Go Filibuster Yourself!” and more.
McConnell led the fight to block the Democracy for All Amendment during Senate debates this week. As a leading voice against efforts to get big money out of elections, McConnell has fought hard for years to protect billionaires’ and millionaires’ influence in our elections instead of protecting the average Kentuckian’s interests.
This rally along with over 15,000 signatures on a petition delivered to McConnell last week should make it clear to “King Mitch” that Kentuckians support an amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United and #GetMoneyOut. Polling also shows that three in four voters support the measure nationally.
There were not sufficient votes to pass the proposed amendment this week, but a majority of the Senate did vote on Thursday in support of the Democracy for All Amendment despite “King Mitch’s” best efforts.
LOUISVILLE, KY — This afternoon, People For the American Way members and other activists rallied outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s West Louisville campaign office to protest “King Mitch’s” role in supporting big money in politics. The rally was held in response to McConnell’s vote against the Democracy for All Amendment during yesterday’s Senate session. This proposed constitutional amendment would overturn decisions like Citizens United and allow Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on money in elections.
During the Senate debates this week, Sen. McConnell led the charge against the Democracy for All Amendment despite receiving petitions from PFAW activists last week signed by over 15,000 Kentuckians urging him to support an amendment.
PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval was featured during the rally, along with MoveOn Council’s Ann Hardman, University of Louisville’s College Democrats President Connor Allen, and local activist Bonifacio “Flaco” Aleman.
“‘King Mitch’ only pays attention to the millionaires and billionaires that fund his campaigns and ignores the average Kentucky constituent,” said PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval. “He supports big money in politics and fights against policies that don’t benefit his ‘court’ of lobbyists, donors, and friends like the Koch brothers. But Kentuckians are standing up against his brand of crony politics that gives a voice only to the most privileged.”
For more information on People For the American Way’s work to get big money out of politics, please see our Government By the People webpage.
LOUISVILLE, KY — People For the American Way (PFAW) members and other activists rallied outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s state office on Tuesday afternoon to protest “King Mitch’s” role in supporting big money in politics. Activists held a giant “King Mitch” and signs that highlighted how Sen. McConnell supports millionaires over ordinary Kentuckians.
Last week PFAW delivered petitions from more than 15,000 Kentuckians urging Sen. McConnell to support an amendment overturning decisions like Citizens United. This week, McConnell led the effort to block the Democracy For All Amendment, which would have limited the influence of billionaires and corporations in our elections.
“‘King Mitch’ only pays attention to the millionaires and billionaires that fund his campaigns, and ignores the average Kentucky constituent,” said PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval. “He not only supports big money in politics, ‘King Mitch’ fights against policies that don’t benefit his ‘court’ of lobbyists, donors, and friends like the Koch brothers. He wants a government where only the most privileged have a voice.”
For more information on People For the American Way’s work to get big money out of politics, please see our Government By the People webpage.
People For The American Way hosted a telebriefing Thursday evening to update PFAW members on the electoral landscape for 2014. The call, which was kicked off by PFAW President Michael Keegan and moderated by Director of Communications Drew Courtney, featured prominent pollster and political strategist and current President of Lake Research Partners Celinda Lake, as well as PFAW’s Political Director Randy Borntrager and Executive Vice President Marge Baker.
Lake discussed the political climate in Congress and the general frustration voters feel toward both political parties. She emphasized multiple times throughout the call that in this election “the key is voter turnout.” In Kentucky, for instance since most undecided voters are leaning towards Alison Lundergan Grimes, turnout will be critical to help unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Political Director Randy Borntrager discussed the work PFAW is doing to make the biggest impact possible in the most pivotal races to help progressives win this election. Lake and Borntrager emphasized that increasing awareness to voters of what is truly at stake – from reproductive rights to potential Supreme Court vacancies – will help make a difference come November.
Questions from callers also focused on other critical races including gubernatorial races in Florida and Wisconsin, the Senate race in North Carolina, and contests in Alaska and Iowa, among others.
In closing, Drew Courtney noted that the telebriefing shows that “we have some challenges ahead, but we are going to fight hard and push forward, and we’re not going to go back to the way things were before.”
Listen to the full audio of the telebriefing for more information.
On Wednesday, PFAW activists in Kentucky joined other activists representing ally organizations in delivering petition signatures to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s state office calling for amending the Constitution to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics. Nationally, more than three million Americans have signed such a petition.
The delivery comes days before the Senate is set to vote on the Democracy for All Amendment (S.J. Res 19), a joint resolution that would amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases. An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s rulings opening the floodgates to unlimited money in our elections, with sixteen states and over 550 cities formally demanding that Congress vote to pass a constitutional amendment to allow common sense campaign finance rules to be enacted.
The event in Louisville is part of a nationwide push to make the Democracy for All Amendment our Constitution’s 28th Amendment. Rallies and petition deliveries also occurred in the state offices of nine other senators throughout the country.
This Friday, PFAW members joined allies at two events in Louisville to hold Sen. Mitch McConnell accountable for his support of big money in politics.
On Friday evening, hundreds of PFAW members and other local activists joined the world’s largest annual Zombie Walk dressed as #ZombieMitch to highlight his zombie-like support of big money in politics. Activists marched with McConnell masks and signs including “Mitch McConnell is a zombie for big money in our elections” and “Need… more…
brains money!” Some of the zombies attending the main event told PFAW members that the McConnell zombies were the “scariest thing I’ve seen all night.”
Earlier that day, members and allies met in front of the local GOP headquarters for a rally organized by MoveOn.org. Activists gathered in response to the tapes leaked last week that caught McConnell speaking at a secret meeting hosted by the Koch brothers. Check out the recordings here.
Sen. McConnell is a leading voice against efforts to get big money out of politics, fighting against a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, despite the fact that three in four voters support the measure. For years he has been fighting hard to protect billionaires’ and millionaires’ influence in our elections. The turnout of supporters at both of these events shows that the people of Kentucky are tired of Sen. McConnell’s love of big money in politics.
LOUISVILLE, KY — On Friday night, hundreds of People For the American Way (PFAW) members and other local activists joined the world’s largest annual Zombie Walk dressed as “Zombie McConnells” to highlight Sen. Mitch McConnell’s zombie-like support of big money in politics. Activists marched with Mitch McConnell masks and signs including “Mitch McConnell is a zombie for big money in our elections” and “Need… more…
Sen. McConnell is a leading voice against efforts to get big money out of politics. He has fought against a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United that will be voted on in the Senate on September 8 and that nearly three in four voters support. Last week, The Nation published a leaked recording of Sen. McConnell pandering to major conservative donors at a secret Koch brothers’ meeting.
“Brain-eating zombies are scary, but McConnell’s hunger for big money from billionaire donors is the true threat to our wellbeing,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “Like a zombie apocalypse, the flood of money into our electoral system is an existential threat to our country. Americans should band together for our survival. In this case, that means voting Mitch McConnell out of office.”
For more information on People For the American Way’s work to get big money out of politics, please see our Government By the People webpage.
Early this morning, The Nation published a leaked recording of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's remarks at a secret meeting of major conservative donors put together by the Koch brothers.
While the first reactions to the recording may highlight what this means for McConnell's Senate race against Alison Lundergan Grimes, the story carries deeper implications as well. At its core, this is a story about why we need to reform the way we finance elections.
In the audio recording, Sen. McConnell says everything that the Koch brothers want to hear. At the beginning of his remarks, he gushes to the brothers: "I don't know where we'd be without you." He rails against Senate votes on raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, and tackling student debt. It's no coincidence that he has received heaps of cash from wealthy special interests that oppose action on those issues. (Reporting today from The Huffington Post shows that at the same Koch retreat, Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and state Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa -- both Republican nominees for U.S. Senate -- "directly credited donors present...for propelling them forward.")
This is increasingly what our political system looks like. Those who can bankroll candidates can help set the political agenda -- even if that agenda looks nothing like what the majority of Americans want it to look like. Research has shown that the wealthy have fundamentally different political priorities than those of everyday Americans, but when the preferences of ordinary Americans conflict with those of billionaire donors like the Koch brothers, it's the rich whose preferences carry the day.
And no one is a more vocal supporter of our broken campaign finance system than Mitch McConnell himself. In the secret tapes, Sen. McConnell says that the Citizens United decision (which paved the way for unlimited corporate political spending) simply "level[ed] the playing field for corporate speech," even calling the proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United "an act of true radicalism" from people who want to "use the power of the government to quiet the voices of their critics."
But Americans know that it's not billionaires or corporations who need the playing field to be leveled. Their priorities are coming through loud and clear in our democracy, thanks to politicians like Sen. McConnell who are fighting to ensure that those with the most to spend can continue to buy our elections. It's ordinary Americans, who increasingly cannot be heard over the roar of big money, whose voices need to be protected. And that "radical" push for a constitutional amendment, which will be voted on in the Senate on September 8, is actually supported by nearly three in four voters.
Maybe if Mitch McConnell weren't so busy pandering to billionaire donors, he'd be able to see the tremendous grassroots call to reform our money in politics system, with 16 states and more than 550 cities and towns already on record in support of an amendment. Then again, with true money in politics reform, maybe our senators wouldn't need to pander to billionaires at all.
Don’t let the name fool you—the event is neither fancy nor a picnic in the park for politicos. “Fancy Farm” is actually the worlds largest BBQ and Kentucky’s biggest political event of the summer. For nearly 100 years, politicians from across the state have been making the pilgrimage to kickoff their campaigns, giving their best stump speeches and trading insults with opposing candidates.
In case you missed it, catch all the fun here.
This year, Kentucky’s got one of the most important Senate races in the country. Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes is trying to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell, the current minority leader, who has been the self-proclaimed “proud guardian of gridlock” for nearly 30 years. Some have estimated that it will cost over $100 million before all is said and done, making it the most expensive Senate race in American history.
That’s not how democracy is supposed to work—our elections shouldn’t go to the highest bidder. That’s why in-state PFAW members drove five hours to help ditch Mitch. Volunteers passed out progressive gear, collected petition signatures, and brought their energy and enthusiasm to the political speeches (check out the pictures below).
PFAW’s petition to get big money out of politics received wide support at the picnic. Even proud supporters of McConnell signed the petition, agreeing that we need to get big money out of politics.
Polls continue to show Grimes and McConnell neck and neck. As November draws closer, conservatives like the Koch brothers will dump millions of outside dollars into this election to save McConnell’s seat and attempt to take over the Senate. But with grassroots support and on-the-ground activism, we’re not going to let them.
Fancy Farm proved that the energy to change our political system is real and will continue to grow. PFAW’s growing in-state membership base will continue to lead the charge.
Late last month, Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt and Andrew Mangione of the Association of Mature American Citizens gave us an interesting peak into the internal fighting within the GOP.
In a May 31 conversation on Pratt’s Gun Owners Radio Hour, the two conservative activists agreed on many things — including a visceral hatred of the Affordable Care Act and a fear that President Obama will send “goon squads” after people who fail to report gun ownership to their insurance companies. (Mangione’s group was founded as a conservative alternative to the AARP after the AARP got behind the health care reform).
But things got contentious when Pratt brought up his frequently-expressed anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who he thinks hasn’t done enough to obstruct President Obama , and declared, “If I lived in Kentucky, I’ll tell you right now, I’d vote for the liberal Democrat just to get rid of Mitch McConnell out of leadership in the Republican Party, where he does so much damage,” adding, “he is poison, pure and simple.”
Mangione, aghast, responded, “So you’d rather lose the seat than have a Republican, regardless of how pure he is on the conservative scale.”
“You’d rather have the seat go to a Democrat, you’d rather give the seat to the people who brought you Obamacare because of your personal dislike of this Republican?” he continued. “That’s why we got Obamacare, that’s why we got another four years of Obama. You’re talking crazy, sir, with all due respect.”
Pratt responded that “Mitch McConnell is the reason we got Obamacare,” to which Mangione replied that McConnell successfully denied health care reform a single Republican vote in the Senate and gave the GOP an election issue that has lasted for years.
Last month, we reported that the infighting in the anti-choice movement has gone public in Kentucky, where the National Right to Life Committee and its Kentucky affiliate are endorsing incumbent Mitch McConnell, and a small fringe group called Northern Kentucky Right to Life is endorsing his Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin.
Like in the similarbattle playing out in Georgia, the issue is whether anti-choice politicians should vote for abortion restrictions that include exemptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest. National Right to Life and its allies, while they oppose rape and incest exemptions, are willing to support bills that contain them if that’s the only way the bills can pass. The more hardline groups, like Northern Kentucky Right to Life and the national Personhood USA, oppose any bill that contains such exemptions.
McConnell has called for the Senate to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, already passed by the House, that contains a rape exemption. Bevin, meanwhile, filled out a questionnaire from the Northern Kentucky group agreeing to its hardline anti-choice, anti-contraception demands.
This has caused some confusion in Kentucky, as Bevin has touted the endorsement of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, and National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life have scrambled to clarify that they are not affiliated with the Northern Kentucky group and in fact support McConnell.
Now, according to National Right to Life, Bevin is sending around a mailer that “questions the pro-life convictions” of McConnell, citing Bevin’s endorsement by the Northern Kentucky group. NRLC is furious, and is blaming Bevin for playing into the hands of pro-choice groups:
Today, leaders of National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life sharply criticized a mailer sent to Kentucky voters by Matt Bevin’s campaign, which questioned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong commitment to the pro-life cause.
Both National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life reaffirmed their unwavering support of Sen. McConnell for re-election in a joint statement last month.
“Matt Bevin is trying to mislead pro-life voters,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No U.S. senator has done more for unborn children than Mitch McConnell.”
Both Tobias and Montgomery reiterated that endorsements made by the organization Northern Kentucky Right to Life (which Bevin cites in the mailer) do not represent National Right to Life or Kentucky Right to Life. Northern Kentucky Right to Life is not affiliated with either National Right to Life, the oldest and largest national pro-life organization in the country, or Kentucky Right to Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life and the oldest and largest statewide pro-life organization in the Bluegrass State.
On his radio broadcast today, Glenn Beck warned that if Sen. Mitch McConnell is re-elected, organizations such as his The Blaze or Breitbart.com will not be allowed to operate as independent media outlets and Tea Party groups will find themselves being targeted by the IRS in retribution.
Beck asserted that Comcast is refusing to carry his The Blaze network because of political pressure from people like McConnell before warning that if he gets re-elected, he will use to IRS to decimate all those Tea Party groups and media outlets who supported his opponent Matt Bevin, whom Beck declared to be a "Founder quality" man who has "been called by God."
Bevin, Beck said, is "a guy I really, truly believe has been called by God. I really do. I met that guy and I was talking to him and I was like 'oh my gosh.' I mean, the Spirit jumps off of that guy. He's Founder quality and I'm talking to him and he left the room and I looked at Pat and I said 'do you feel that?' and he said 'oh yeah.' I said 'that guy's called from God.' This is a guy we prayed for":
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
Did you know that it is illegal to be a Christian in America? Or that World War II was all about promoting homosexuality?
Probably not, but you might just think that if you get all of your news from the paranoid world of the Religious Right media.
5. Hitler’s Gay Dream
Religious Right talk show host Rick Wiles is not happy about the growing support for gay rights in America, which he believes is really the fulfillment of Adolf Hitler’s dream to engender a “race of super gay male soldiers” that would “slaughter” Christians.
According to Wiles, Nazism and World War II had nothing to do with promoting the supremacy of the “Aryan race,” but were all about Hitler’s plan to create a Christian-killing “homosexual special race.”
His guest, BarbWire editor and pastor Jeff Allen, unsurprisingly agreed.
4. Gays Targeting South Carolina For ‘Recruitment’
South Carolina Republicans are fighting the scourge of gay “recruitment,” which apparently has become a major problem in the Palmetto State. State senator and US Senate candidate Lee Bright, for example, is worried that the “homosexual agenda” has “seized the educational establishment” and has gone on “full march in our institutions of higher ed and we’ve gone from education to indoctrination.”
Fellow GOP state senator Mike Fair similarly fears that a lesbian comedian is “recruiting” students into homosexuality at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, and wants to punish the school along with the College of Charleston for their “glorification of same-sex culture.”
3. Gun Tracking Bracelets A-Comin’
It didn’t take long for conservative media outlets to disseminate the false claim that Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would be exploring “gun tracking bracelets” as part of a looming crackdown on gun rights. Of course, Holder never said that he would be tracking gun owners through bracelets.
As Erich Lach of TPM writes, Holder only “talked about ideas for gun safety technology including finger print identification and a bracelet that ‘talks to’ a gun, to allow use only by the lawful owner,” a technology that many gun manufacturers are working to develop.
2. Religious Right Persecution Story Debunked, Again
It’s time for another bogus Religious Right tale about persecution in schools, this time in North Carolina. Conservatives were outraged when a teacher allegedly tried to dissuade a student from writing a short essay about how Jesus is her hero, and now there is a phony photo circulating of an essay marked with “F: Remove Jesus Please!”
However, as the myth-busting website Snopes points out, the school explained that the only reason the teacher spoke to the student about the assignment was because the student approached the teacher and told her she is having problems writing it.
“Our school has recently been the target of intense negative publicity in numerous forms of the media,” the school’s principal said in a statement [PDF], noting that at no point was the student pressured to drop Jesus as the subject of the essay and that the finished product “is still entitled, ‘Jesus is my Hero.’”
As is often the case, right-wing activists quickly jumped at the first cry of “persecution!,” without waiting for the facts of the case to come out.
1. Christianity Made Illegal!
Back in 2011, a seniors group affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition sent out mailers with the headline “Christianity Now Outlawed,” warning that President Obama has declared the Bible to be “illegal hate literature.”
Of course it wasn’t true, but conservative activists every year seem to come up with new ways to claim that it is now against the law to be a Christian.
Just this week, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins said that the gay rights movement is transforming America into Nazi Germany, while Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage maintained that Christians are now facing anti-religious Jim Crow laws.
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer took the ridiculousness to a new level, declaring that “it is now a criminal offense according to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is now a punishable offense, you can be fined for being a Christian in the United States of America. For living, behaving as a Christian, it has now become a crime in the United States of America.”