Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012
Washington, DC – Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states. Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle. The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs. And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.
The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign. As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression. This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”
The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...
For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org
Homeschooling activists Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner dedicated today’s Generations Radio program to blaming the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on the public school system (the shooter was homeschooled). Swanson said Americans shouldn’t be shocked by the violence since the country upholds abortion rights, and Buehner said that people should not be surprised the shooting took place if they support other forms of “rebellion against God” like gay marriage.
Swanson: It is interesting that this is probably one of the most shocking experiences; America has been stunned by what happened. I think there is still somewhat of a conscience. There may not be a conscience about killing the unborn children, there may not be as much of a conscience of killing twenty-seven year olds, but apparently when these bodies of little six and seven year olds riddled by bullets are being examined by the experts, hundreds of thousands and millions of people in America are still somewhat stunned, apparently they have some level of moral outrage left for the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut.
Buehner: I think you’re exactly right. The liberals are proposing that we as a nation follow a kinder, gentler flavor of rebellion against God. They’d like a rebellion that stops a little short of murdering kindergartners. They want the rebellion that involves gay marriage; they want the rebellion that embraces rape rap and abortion and a media that is in utter defiance against the law of God. That’s the kind of society they want; they want a society that’s in rebellion but not that much rebellion.
Call it an occupational hazard for someone who pays close attention to the right wing in America. On Friday, even while my mind and heart were struggling with how to take in, much less make sense of, the news about the killings at a Connecticut elementary school, another part of me was steeling itself for what I knew was to come.
And come it has. Rather than contributing to constructive discussion about a way forward on issues like the insufficient availability of mental health treatment and the extravagant availability of equipment designed for large-scale killing, Religious Right leaders and their Tea Party allies have wasted no time in placing blame for the killing on their usual targets: liberals, teachers, religious pluralism, judges, and the separation of church and state. Yet again.
These past few days have reminded me how Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, while the smoke had not even cleared from the destruction of the World Trade Center, blamed liberals, feminists, gays, People For the American Way, and others for the attacks. Falwell was shamed into an apology, which he later recanted. But Religious Right leaders are showing no shame in using this tragedy to push their agendas in offensive and destructive ways.
On his radio station Monday morning, James Dobson cited lack of belief in God, legal abortion, the advance of marriage equality as reasons for the school shooting: "I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on."
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer also blessed his listeners with his personal insight into what he says was God's gentlemanly reason not to protect those children from harm:
God is not going to go where he is not wanted. Now we have spent since 1962 - we're 50 years into this now - we have spent 50 years telling God to get lost. Telling God, 'We do not want you in our schools.'...In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963 we kicked the word of God out of the schools. In 1980 we kicked the Ten Commandments out of schools. We've kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, 'Hey, I'll be glad to protect your children, but you've got to invite me back into your world first. I'm not going to go where I am not wanted. I am a gentleman.
Presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee made similar comments as did others. The Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody defended them from their critics, saying their views were shared by millions of evangelicals.
Why look at what these people are saying? Because of the real power they now hold. What they say is what keeps us from even discussing, never mind solving, this country's critical problems.
Even efforts to bring people together to comfort the suffering brought attacks. Operation Save America called Sunday's interfaith memorial service "an affront to Almighty God" and added that "We expelled God from school and banished Him from the schoolyard. He was replaced with metal detectors, condoms, policemen, anti-bullying policies, No-gun zones, and violence of unprecedented order."
One of the most dismaying statements came predictably from Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, who responded to President Obama's remarks at the memorial service on Sunday with this tweet:
Absolute slime ball, #Obama exploiting memorial service to push radical#GunControl. His extremism knows no lows#Newtown
It is amazing what can be conveyed about our politics in 140 characters or less. It strikes me that Barber's tweet is emblematic of everything that the radical right has done to distort our political system and destroy our ability to even have a reasonable conversation about critical problems the country needs to solve.
Would that this was just about guns. This frenzied effort to forestall even a conversation about the ready availability of military-style weapons - and this is even before the NRA itself wades in - points to a larger picture.
Just five years ago, we were able to have some reasonable political conversations, even across party lines, about important issues like climate change and immigration reform. Of course, there were significant disagreements about the exact nature of the issues and the proper policy responses. But more recently, any effort to even acknowledge the existence of climate change runs up against a solid wall of denialism from the right wing and most importantly from legislators who now so fear the far right. Similarly, some conservatives who championed comprehensive immigration reform five or six years ago saw the effort savaged by the right wing who sounded the alarm of losing white America.
On the fiscal front, Grover Norquist's no-taxes-ever pledge, backed with the kind of political intimidation that deep-pocketed ideologues have perfected in the Tea Party era, have made it nearly impossible for the country to seriously address both its short-term job shortage and its long-term deficit problem. And we saw last year that the fear of a right wing primary challenge is much greater than the fear of damaging the credit rating of our country.
The horrific shootings in Connecticut may be leading some elected officials to consider tackling some problems that have been ignored or considered politically off-limits. But we should not have to rely on tragedies to overcome obstacles to needed action. While the far right's ideological enforcers can be counted on to fight any move by conservatives toward common sense and common ground, such movement is essential. As we are sometimes so painfully reminded, Americans need a functional political system, one with the ability to address urgent political questions to achieve much needed compromises. And quite simply, none of this can happen until we have political leaders with the courage to stand up against the far right's willingness to paralyze our country.
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon offered up his thoughts on last week's tragic school shooting in Connecticut by saying that Satan literally took possession of shooter Adam Lanza and carried out the attack ... but "that doesn't exonerate the person of their responsibility" for what happened because Lanza knew what he was doing:
When James Holmes opened fired in a Colorado movie theater in July, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, Operation Save America quickly issued a press release calling Holmes "an Occupy Wall Street guy" who is "the spawn of the ideology of the Democratic Party."
So it is no surprise that the group has also issued a press release following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, blaming it on the removal of God from public schools while calling the interfaith memorial service held on Sunday "an affront to Almighty God" for not mentioning Jesus enough:
Watching the Memorial service for the twenty-six precious lives taken from us was painful to say the least, but it was far more painful to the God who made America great. Newtown cancelled Christmas so it could properly mourn. How foolish, yet typical of governmental strategy to replace God. The "Interfaith" service was an affront to Almighty God. Those claiming to be His priests barely mentioned His Name --Jesus! After all, He is the only God there is!
"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children." Hosea 4:6.
Can there be any doubt in anyone's mind today that America is in deep trouble? Blood is coursing down the corridors of our schools, workplaces, and streets and we look at each other with awkward amazement wondering what in the world has happened to us. We are being drained of every last penny of our wealth. We are losing our kids to gangs, drugs, violence, suicide, murder and every imaginable trivial pursuit. Our schools have become veritable jungles where survival of the fittest is the law of the hallway.
What happened? We violently removed the fear of Almighty God from the hearts of our children. We expelled God from school and banished Him from the schoolyard. He was replaced with metal detectors, condoms, policemen, anti-bullying policies, No-gun zones, and violence of unprecedented order. Our strategy has replaced God's Truth. We are losing our kids because we are ignoring God's Law.
James Dobson dedicated his radio program this morning to discussing Friday's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, which he attributed to the fact that God has "allowed judgment to fall upon us" because the nation has turned its back on him by accepting things like abortion and gay marriage:
Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I'm not talking politically, I'm not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.
I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist, or he's irrelevant to me and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences too.
And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on.
Right-wing talk show host Steve Deace writes on his Facebook page that the public school system is partly to blame for the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, because public schools, he claims, promote a “culture of death.”
Washington, DC – This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid overcame Republican roadblocks to schedule confirmation votes on two highly qualified district court nominees from Connecticut and Maryland. Michael P. Shea of Connecticut has been a partner of a law firm with extensive experience in a range of civil and criminal cases, and Paul William Grimm of Maryland has served as the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for Maryland for six years. Both nominees have outstanding credentials, were approved by the Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, and both have the support of their home state senators. Nevertheless, for no reason other than a desire to obstruct Senate business, Republicans have blocked efforts to allow confirmation votes. Shea has been waiting seven months for a vote from the full Senate and Grimm has been waiting for five months. These will be the first votes on judicial nominees since September.
“We are pleased that these two exceedingly qualified nominees will finally receive their confirmation votes,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “It’s shameful that the Republican minority has forced them to wait this long for simple up-or-down votes. These delays directly impact Americans seeking their day in court. In Connecticut, the judicial vacancy crisis is so severe that the Chief District Judge had to bring in out-of-state judges to help relieve the caseload. Senate Republicans must now allow votes on the remaining 17 nominees who were long ago approved by the Judiciary Committee and have needlessly been forced into limbo month after month after month.”
The results are in from Tuesday’s primaries, and People For the American Way is proud to commend seven Young Elected Progressives endorsees on their victories.
In Connecticut, PFAW applauds Assemblymen Matthew Lesser and James Albis, both running for reelection. Lesser, of Connecticut’s 100th district, has been a proven advocate for the middle class, education, and equal rights since he was first elected in 2010. Albis, a tireless voice for seniors and the middle class, was first elected in a 2011 special election. Both assemblymen face challengers in November, but are continuing their momentum into the fall’s general election.
PFAW also extends its congratulations to five YEP endorsees who emerged victorious in primary elections in Florida: Dwight Bullard, Andrew Gillum, John Alvarez, Leo Cruz, and Ricardo Rangel. While Bullard, winner of this year’s Barbara Jordan Leadership Award given by affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s YEO Network program, defeated four primary challengers in the state Senate’s 39th district, Gillum, YEO Network National Director, defeated three challengers to his Tallahassee city commission seat in a landslide victory. Elsewhere, openly gay state House candidate Alvarez continues to shatter ceilings, advancing onto the general election after an exciting 15 point victory. Cruz and Rangel, state Senate and House hopefuls, respectively, now also face challengers in November.
For more information on PFAW’s other Young Elected Progressives endorsees, click here, and be sure support these strong progressive voices!
With anti-gay organizations like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and Liberty Counsel urging students to walkout of schools on April 20th to protest the Day of Silence, a day when students in many schools remain silent to draw attention to anti-gay bias and bullying, the Family Research Council is now endorsing one Connecticut pastor’s efforts to have the school prohibit any student from participating in the Day of Silence.
According to the New Haven Register, Loomer’s campaign is based on material from rabidly anti-gay activist Linda Harvey of Mission America, along with debunked claims that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which spearheads the Day of Silence, distributes pornographic material to children, pastor James Loomer of Milford is trying to convince his local school board to forbid students from partaking in the event. However, the school board’s own legal counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union notes that students have a right to participate in the Day of Silence during non-instructional time.
But Loomer’s unconstitutional and anti-gay ploy was rewarded with an interview on FRC president Tony Perkins’ radio show Washington Watch Weekly, where Loomer said that “parents will be so appalled at what the Day of Silence could lead their children into” and Perkins noted that while he opposed bullying, he also opposed anti-bullying efforts like the Day of Silence because it is “cover for the promotion of homosexuality” and commended Loomer’s efforts to ban it.
Loomer: If the board decides they don’t want to take any corrective actions we’re already making plans to call the city families together and just apprise them of the situation. I think the parents will be so appalled at what the Day of Silence could lead their children into that they’re going to want to stand up and say, ‘let’s get rid of this.’ There are alternative programs that focus on disrupting the bullying that goes on in schools but this is one that’s got a serious kickback to it.
Perkins: Look, bullying should not be taking place in our schools, every child in America should be able to go to school—public school, private school, wherever—without the fear of threat or being intimidated, regardless of what the cause is, whether they’re overweight, whether their religious viewpoints, no child should be bullied because they are effeminate or because of their sexual orientation or whatever, it shouldn’t happen, but we cannot allow these programs like the Day of Silence to come into our schools as a cover for the promotion of homosexuality. That’s what is happening with this so we appreciate Pastor Loomer and others who are drawing attention to this in communities across the country.
The Connecticut Supreme Court today ruled that the State Constitution requires the state to allow same sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses.
"This is a proud day for the people of Connecticut, and a good day for the principle of equality," said Kathryn Kolbert, president of People For the American Way Foundation. "The Supreme Court's decision was grounded in constitutional principles and core American values. Discrimination is wrong. Unequal treatment under the law is wrong.