New Hampshire

PFAW Members Catch Up to Kelly Ayotte in Manchester 5K to Ask if She Trusts Donald Trump to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

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Yesterday, at the Cigna/Elliot 5K Road race in downtown Manchester, Sen. Kelly Ayotte revealed a level of trust in Donald Trump’s ability to choose a qualified Supreme Court justice when questioned by a Manchester voter.

Watch her response:

Ayotte, who has repeatedly ignored the vast majority of Granite Staters who want her to do her constitutional duty and support moving forward with hearings and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, seemed unconcerned with the particulars of Trump’s judgement regarding the next Supreme Court justice, but said she’d looked at the list and thinks it’s a “good start.”

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Sen. Kelly Ayotte Thinks Trump’s Shortlist to Fill the Supreme Court Vacancy Is “a Good Start”

Thursday at the Cigna/Elliot 5K Road race in downtown Manchester, Sen. Kelly Ayotte revealed a level of trust in Donald Trump’s ability to choose a qualified Supreme Court justice when questioned by a Manchester voter.

Ayotte, who has repeatedly ignored the vast majority of Granite Staters who want her to do her constitutional duty and support moving forward with hearings and a vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, seemed unconcerned with the particulars of Trump’s judgement regarding the next Supreme Court justice, but said she’d looked at the list and thinks it’s a “good start.”

See her answer here.

Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way, said:

“Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but this is just one of many examples of falling in lock step with her party leadership, who would prefer to put the future of the Supreme Court in Donald Trump’s reckless hands rather than confirm the highly respected Merrick Garland, who received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Ayotte cannot, for example, pretend to champion women’s reproductive health while approving a shortlist that contains justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade, among other troubling views on issues like LGBT discrimination.”

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People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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NH Voters Call on Sen. Ayotte to End Supreme Court Obstruction

Nashua, NH – Outside of Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s district office, Granite Staters joined to demonstrate against Sen. Kelly Ayotte for her obstruction aimed at President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Participants called on Sen. Ayotte to give fair consideration – timely hearings and an up-or-down vote – to Judge Garland.

“Sen. Ayotte has a constitutional responsibility to give fair consideration to judicial nominations,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way, “It’s time for her to do her job and stop ignoring the majority of Granite Staters who want to see the Supreme Court vacancy filled this year. She should put principle over partisanship instead of trying to hold a Supreme Court seat open for President Trump or President Cruz.”

Most New Hampshire voters, including 60% of independent voters in New Hampshire, support filling the Supreme Court vacancy this year, yet Sen. Ayotte continues to stand firm against giving fair consideration to Judge Garland.

Pictures from today’s events:

   

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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Statement on Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s Continued Obstruction

In response to Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s willingness to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but only “to explain [her] position,” not to give real consideration to Garland, Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way, made the following statement:

“The Constitution calls on Senators to give fair consideration to a President’s Supreme Court nominee, meaning a hearing and a vote. Ayotte’s announcement that she’ll meet with Judge Garland to ‘explain [her] position’ falls far short of her doing her job and following the priorities of Granite Staters. Garland deserves a fair consideration, and Senator Ayotte should call on her party leadership to make sure that’s what he receives.”

According to recent polling, 59% of New Hampshire voters – and 60% of independent voters in New Hampshire – support filling the Supreme Court vacancy this year.

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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NH Voters Call on Sen. Ayotte to Give Fair Consideration on Supreme Court Nominee

Today, over 40 New Hampshire activists gathered for a demonstration demanding that Senator Kelly Ayotte stop putting politics over the Constitution and instead give fair consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. The demonstration included activists from People For the American Way, NextGen Climate, Granite State Progress, and Rights and Democracy.

“The Constitution is very clear that it is the job of the Senate to give fair consideration to nominees,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “And as a former New Hampshire Attorney General who was herself appointed and confirmed in an election year, Ayotte should know better than to align herself with such blatant hypocrisy. It’s time for her to fulfill her responsibility to Granite Staters and do her job.”

Pictures from today's demonstration:

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Laura Epstein (lepstein@pfaw.org) or Lindsay Jakows (ljakows@pfaw.org).

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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Sen. Kelly Ayotte Should Fulfill Constitutional Duties or Resign

In response to Sen. Kelly Ayotte standing with the Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who committed yesterday to not hold any hearings for a Supreme Court nominee from President Obama, People For the American Way New Hampshire Coordinator Lindsay Jakows issued the following statement:

“New Hampshire voters elected Senator Kelly Ayotte to fulfill her job duties as laid out in the Constitution. For her to put partisanship above her constitutional obligations by refusing to even hold hearings to consider a Supreme Court nominee is nothing short of a dereliction of duty. If she’s not prepared to fulfill her Constitutional responsibilities, she should resign.”

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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New Hampshire House Votes Down Bill on Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

PFAW New Hampshire Organizer: Elected Officials Failed to Carry Out the Will of the People

Today, after initially voting in favor of the measure, the New Hampshire House ultimately voted against S.B. 136, a bill in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United and allow lawmakers to set reasonable limits on money in elections. In March 2015, the bill was passed unanimously in the state Senate.

“Today our elected officials failed to represent the 72 percent of Granite Staters who oppose the Citizens United decision,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way (PFAW). “Instead, opponents of the measure used extraordinary procedural tactics to kill the bill after it had already passed. This was a miscarriage of democracy. But make no mistake: Granite Staters are paying attention, and care deeply about this issue. On Election Day, voters will remember which representatives stood on the side of reform and which stood on the side of wealthy special interests."

People For the American Way has been working with ally groups to organize residents to speak out in favor of S.B. 136, including by encouraging New Hampshire PFAW activists to call their representatives and urge them to support the bill.

Support for overturning decisions like Citizens United is strong both in New Hampshire and across the country. Local activism has pushed 69 towns in New Hampshire to pass resolutions in support of an amendment, more than a dozen of which passed in 2015 alone. Sixteen other states have already officially called for an amendment. A national Bloomberg Politics poll released in September found that 78 percent of Americans believe the Citizens United decision should be overturned.

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New Hampshire Activists Lead Money in Politics Demonstration Outside Democratic Debate

Local Activists Called on Candidates to Talk About How They Would Implement Plans to Fight Big Money and Corporate Influence in Politics

Manchester, NH – On Saturday evening local activists demonstrated outside of the Democratic primary debate at Saint Anselm College urging the candidates to talk to voters about their plans to fight big money and undue corporate influence in politics.

The demonstration was organized by People For the American Way, New Hampshire Rebellion, and the American Friends Service Committee NH Program. All of the Democratic candidates have endorsed a range of reform measures aimed at getting big money out of elections. At the event, local activists urged the candidates to take action in their first 100 days as president on this issue, if elected.

“Getting big money out of politics is a top issue for Granite Staters and people across the country,” said Lindsay Jakows, People For the American Way’s New Hampshire Campaign Organizer. “Championing reform measures on the campaign trail is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.”

“While we appreciate the hopeful statements on campaign finance reform from Sec. Clinton, Gov. O'Malley, and Sen. Sanders, we wanted to hear more discussion of what these candidates will do in their first 100 days in office to end this corruption of our democracy,” said Brian Beihl, deputy director of the campaign finance reform advocacy group, NH Rebellion. “Republican candidates must do the same in their upcoming debates, because the anger about Big Money corruption is palpable among both party loyalists and independents.”

“Regular people don’t have the kind of money that giant corporations spend to get their way. That is why people have to stand up and make their voices heard – even on a cold winter night in New Hampshire,” said Eric Zulaski of the American Friends Service Committee’s Governing Under the Influence campaign.

A recent nationwide poll from the New York Times and CBS News found that eighty-five percent of Americans believe that our country’s campaign finance system needs either “fundamental changes” or to be “completely rebuil[t].”

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Trump Campaign Cites Japanese Internment Camps To Defend Muslim Immigration Ban

A New Hampshire Republican lawmaker who co-chairs Donald Trump’s campaign in the first-in-the-nation primary state came out in defense of the candidate’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration by citing the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.

The lawmaker, Al Baldasaro, also said the chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party should resign for criticizing Trump’s remarks, reported WMUR:

State Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said Monday that Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States is “un-American.”

But two top Trump supporters in New Hampshire said the controversial Republican presidential frontrunner is right.

State Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Steve Stepanek of Amherst said Horn should resign her post for criticizing Trump because she is not being neutral in the presidential primary.



But Baldasaro, a co-chair of Trump’s state veterans coalition, said Trump is “100 percent right” and Horn is wrong.

“What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps,” Baldasaro, a Marine veteran, said. “The people who attacked innocent people in Paris came through open borders. From a military mind standpoint, all Donald Trump is saying is to do what needs to be done until we get a handle on how to do background checks.”

Baldasaro said a petition is being circulated among some New Hampshire Republicans to convene a special Republican State Committee meeting to call on Horn to resign or to try to remove her from office. He said he signed a such a petition on Monday night.

“She needs to resign because she has no clue,” Baldasaro said. “She’s my friend, but I have to separate that from the Republican Party.”

Trump himself said that he wouldn’t have ruled out supporting internment camps for Japanese-Americans had he been around at the time:

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump told TIME that he does not know whether he would have supported or opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer,” he said during a recent interview in his office in New York City. “I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”

Trump added that he believes wartime sometimes requires difficult choices. “It’s a tough thing. It’s tough,” he said. “But you know war is tough. And winning is tough. We don’t win anymore. We don’t win wars anymore. We don’t win wars anymore. We’re not a strong country anymore. We’re just so off.”

Pressed numerous times during an appearance Monday morning on MSNBC to say whether or not the internment violated American values, Trump refused to respond.

PFAW Statement on NH House Committee Vote on Amendment to Get Big Money Out of Politics

House Committee Tries to Bury the Proposed Bill

This morning the New Hampshire House Legislative Administration Committee voted for “interim study” on SB 136 – a bill in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United and allow lawmakers to set reasonable limits on money in elections – which serves to delay the bill in moving forward. Despite this disappointing committee action, the bill, which already passed unanimously in the state Senate, will be considered by the full House at the beginning of January.

Citizens United has wreaked havoc on our political process,” said People For the American Way New Hampshire Campaign Organizer Lindsay Jakows. “Granite Staters have made clear again and again that getting big money out of politics is a top priority. By using this delay tactic rather than supporting the bill outright, committee members have ignored the voices of their constituents on this issue. But rest assured, grassroots activists across the state will continue the push to reclaim our democracy from wealthy special interests.”

Sixteen other states have called for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of elections. People For the American Way has been on the ground in New Hampshire working with allied organizations to support the groundswell of organizing in the state around this issue. Local activism has pushed 69 towns to pass resolutions in support of an amendment, more than a dozen of which have passed this year alone.

In New Hampshire and across the country, reversing Citizens United is supported by a strong majority of Americans. A national Bloomberg Politics poll found that 78 percent of Americans believe the decision should be overturned.

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PFAW Members, Local Activists Hold Kelly Ayotte Accountable For Opposing Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

People For the American Way members and other supporters of the movement to get big money out of politics delivered a clear message last night about Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to support a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United.

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Activists took to the South Willow Street Bridge in Manchester to hold boxes with LED lights to spell out the words “AYOTTE WON’T #GETMONEYOUT.” Ayotte has described a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics as “dangerous” – despite the fact that a majority of New Hampshire voters who support such an amendment.

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Voters in New Hampshire and beyond are increasingly concerned about the amount of money in politics, and the proposed constitutional amendment would dramatically curb political spending to help ensure that our elections can’t be bought by wealthy special interests. New Hampshire activists are committed to holding Ayotte accountable for her refusal to support the movement to undo big money’s corrosive influence on our elections.

 

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New Hampshire Budget Battle Highlights How Big Money Affects Fiscal Policy

 In our current political landscape, moneyed interests frequently use their financial leverage to impact policy. For instance, Wall Street banks lobbied against a bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would help relieve students of their loan debt. For every dollar the fossil fuels industry spends on lobbying, it receives $103 in government subsidies. Now in New Hampshire, special interests are looking to change the state’s longstanding fiscal policy in their favor.

 New Hampshire Representative Timothy Smith credits the state’s ability to stay afloat financially without imposing a sales or income tax with its substantial business taxes, which bring in sizable amounts of revenue. However, that might change with the introduction of a bill by 13 Republican senators that would significantly lower the business tax, creating a hole of $90 million in the budget. Rep. Smith connected the introduction of this legislation to the fact that special interest groups, many of which would benefit from this change, spent over $900 thousand in New Hampshire’s legislative elections last year.

 Not surprisingly, New Hampshire residents are unhappy with the growing trend of big money influencing politics. Over two-thirds of the state’s voters believe that a constitutional amendment that would overturn decisions like Citizens United should be implemented. Sixty-nine state localities have passed resolutions calling for such an amendment, and over 120 small businesses are hosting Stamp Stampede stations, where patrons can stamp phrases like “not to be used for bribing politicians” on their bills.

 Rep. Smith co-sponsored a bill that called for an amendment to get big money out of politics, which passed in the New Hampshire House with bipartisan support. In addition, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan dismissed the business tax reductions as “unpaid for tax cuts to big corporations” that would “put corporate special interest ahead of New Hampshire's families.” Officials in the state government are listening to their constituents’ concerns about the harmful effects of big money in politics.

 “Our constituents are trying to tell us something. They’re tired of their government serving lobbyists rather than citizens,” said Rep. Smith.

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New Hampshire Activists Launch Photo Petition Urging Sen. Ayotte to Support an Amendment to #GetMoneyOut

PFAW activists and allies are continuing to pressure Sen. Kelly Ayotte for her reluctance to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn cases like Citizens United.

A group of New Hampshire activists, many of whom have worked to pass local resolutions in their towns in support of an amendment, met with Sen. Ayotte’s legal counsel in May to deliver over 12 thousand petitions in support of the Democracy For All Amendment— a federal constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on money in elections.

Over a month later, her office has given no indication she will support the Democracy For All Amendment.

In previous public statements she has characterized a constitutional amendment as “dangerous.”  And in a recent form letter to activists, Sen. Ayotte wrote,

By creating a "carve out" to the First Amendment that gives politicians the power to limit free speech and stifle political dissent, the Udall proposal jeopardizes all Americans' freedom of speech rights - and essentially says that our Founding Fathers got it wrong. It would also alter the First Amendment in ways that jeopardize more than political speech.

Of course, we know this issue isn’t about protecting free speech; it’s about everyone having an equal say in our elections and not having their own voices drowned out by a flood of big money.

In light of Sen. Ayotte’s clear refusal to recognize the influence of money in politics as stifling the voices of all Americans, PFAW activists and allies created photo petitions this weekend to send Sen. Ayotte a clear message about why 69 percent of New Hampshire voters support a constitutional amendment.

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PFAW and Allies Urge New Hampshire Governor to Veto Attack on Voting Rights

On Thursday, People For the American Way members and supporters in New Hampshire joined local election authorities, lawmakers, civil rights groups, and affected voters to call on Governor Maggie Hassan to veto SB 179 and end the rollback of voting rights.

The bill, SB 179, would require voters to live at the same address for 30 days before registering to vote, chipping away at the state’s same-day registration law, and also open up public access to private voter information at the local level.

Over 80 people packed the lobby of the Legislative Office Building, including many state legislators.  Speakers included State Senator David Pierce; Gilles Bissonnette, legal director for the ACLU; State Representative and Plymouth State University student Travis Bennett; moderator for the town of Freedom Don Johnson; and Manchester moderator and president of the Manchester NAACP Woullard Lett. They addressed the unconstitutionality of the 30 day waiting period, the fact that there is no evidence of a problem with “drive by voting,” and the bill’s disproportionate effects on students, the poor, and people of color.

 

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Activists Deliver 12,089 Petitions Calling on Senator Ayotte to Support Constitutional Amendment to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Today local activists delivered 12,089 petitions to Sen. Kelly Ayotte in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and get big money out of politics. The local leaders urged Sen. Ayotte to listen to the voices of her constituents and become a cosponsor of the Democracy For All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore lawmakers’ ability to set reasonable limits on money in elections. The petitions were collected by national organizations including People For the American Way, Daily Kos, MoveOn.org, CREDO Action, and People Demanding Action and signed by residents of New Hampshire.

“The voice of the individual voter without a million dollar megaphone is being drowned out by the super PACs. That’s not the kind of democracy that people in New Hampshire want to see,” said Madbury activist Nancy Pape, who helped lead the petition delivery.

With the money chase for the 2016 elections already in full swing, local activists believe it is more important than ever for our elected officials to take a stand to make sure that all voices are heard in our political system, not just the voices of the rich and powerful.

Nationwide, more than five million Americans have signed petitions in support of an amendment. In addition, sixteen states and over 650 cities and towns, including 69 cities and towns in New Hampshire, are on record in support of an amendment.

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State Money In Politics Reform Victories Show Growing Strength of Movement

While likely presidential candidates chase billionaires they hope will bankroll their campaigns, activists in states across the country are ramping up a very different kind of campaign: grassroots organizing to restore some common sense to the rules governing money in elections. In March alone, we’ve seen significant victories in the movement to get big money out of politics.

Last week, following sustained advocacy by PFAW activists and allies, the New Hampshire Senate unanimously passed a bill in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United v. FEC. If it passes in the House, New Hampshire will become the 17th state calling for an amendment. PFAW’s New Hampshire Campaign Coordinator Lindsay Jakows, who has been leading our on-the-ground effort in the state, said the vote shows that “our state senators are listening to, and responding to, the voices of their constituents.” And after passing 67 town resolutions in support of an amendment – including 11 just this month – the voices of New Hampshire constituents on this issue are crystal clear.

On the other side of the country, local leaders in Washington and Montana are also making important strides. Earlier this month, Washington’s state Senate unanimously passed a disclosure bill that would expose the spending of some of the largest political donors. PFAW activists in the state made calls to their senators, urging them to vote for the bill to strengthen transparency in Washington’s politics. And in Montana a disclosure bill that would help shine a light on “dark money” in state elections passed in the state House this weekend following calls from PFAW activists.

All of these victories share the same core ingredient: people power.

The sustained drumbeat of calls and emails from local advocates, which led to important wins in three states just this month, show what’s possible when grassroots leaders organize to take their democracy back from corporations and billionaires.

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PFAW Commends NH Senate for Passing Bill Supporting an Amendment to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Today the New Hampshire Senate unanimously passed a bill (S.B. 136) in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC. The bill also calls for a committee to study the proposed amendments currently being considering in the U.S. Congress.

“This is a big win for the people of New Hampshire,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Coordinator for People For the American Way, who led a group of activists gathered in support of the bill at the State Senate today. “It shows that our state senators are listening to, and responding to, the voices of their constituents. New Hampshire residents have been calling loud and clear for an amendment to reclaim our democracy from the undue influence of corporations and billionaires. Today’s vote represents a big step forward in that grassroots movement.”

Support for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics is strong in New Hampshire, where in just the past two weeks eleven new towns have passed resolutions in favor of such an amendment. This brought the total number of New Hampshire towns on record in support of an amendment to 67.

People For the American Way has been working with ally groups to organize residents to speak out in favor of S.B. 136, including by encouraging New Hampshire PFAW activists to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill.

The bill now moves to the New Hampshire House. If it passes there, New Hampshire will become the 17th state calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United.

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Eleven NH Towns Pass Resolutions Calling for Amendment to Get Big Money Out of Elections

Last week, 11 new towns in New Hampshire passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United v. FEC. The resolutions direct state and federal legislators to guarantee that Congress and states can once again regulate political spending, and also make it clear that  corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as people to spend money to influence elections.

People For the American Way – along with Open Democracy – has been working with New Hampshire citizens to collect signatures and organize in support of the town resolutions.

“After decisions like Citizens United allowed an unprecedented amount of money into our elections, citizens across New Hampshire are raising their voices in favor of amending the Constitution,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Coordinator with People For the American Way, who has been working with town meeting resolution organizers statewide.  “The energy behind this push is enormous, and it’s growing nationwide. Citizens in 16 states and over 600 municipalities across the country have already passed resolutions in favor of such an amendment. Everyday Americans want to see real change and are willing to organize resolutions in their own towns to get us closer to a democracy truly of, by, and for the people.”

The towns that passed resolutions last week included Bedford, Canterbury, Gilmanton, Greenville, Madbury, Mason, Plainfield, Rye, Sandown, Walpole, and Westmoreland. In response to a citizen petition, the Derry Town Council also approved a resolution on January 20 by a 7-0 vote.

Fifty-six New Hampshire towns passed resolutions in previous years, including: Alstead, Amherst, Andover, Atkinson, Barrington, Bradford, Bridgewater, Bristol, Chesterfield, Conway, Cornish, Danville, Deerfield, Dorchester, Dublin, Durham, Eaton, Exeter, Francestown, Groton, Hampstead, Hancock, Hanover, Harrisville, Henniker, Hollis, Hudson, Jaffery, Keene, Kingston, Lee, Lyme, Milford, New Boston, New Durham, New London, Newfields, Newmarket, Northwood, Nottingham, Pelham, Peterborough, Piermont,  Plymouth, Rindge, Salem, Sanbornton, Sandwich, Sharon, Stratham, Tilton, Wakefield, Warner, Waterville Valley, Webster, and Windham.

The city council of Franklin and town of Newport will vote on similar petitions in April and May, respectively. City councilor Rob Werner is also working to pass a resolution through the Concord City Council, and other cities may follow Concord’s lead.

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PFAW and Allies Advocate for Amendment to #GetMoneyOut in New Hampshire

PFAW activists joined with allies from Public Citizen, Open Democracy, and others last Thursday at public hearings on New Hampshire House and Senate bills calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United.

About 50 supporters of a constitutional amendment attended each hearing, creating standing room only and overflow in the small room reserved for the House bill hearing.

Speakers included small business owners, activists who passed local town resolutions in favor of an amendment, and high school students.  Not a single person testified in opposition to the proposed legislation, underscoring the deep support among Americans of all backgrounds for fixing our big money system.

The bills (HB 371 and SB 136) call for the state legislature to recommend a constitutional amendment to the state’s congressional delegation, as well as for public hearings in geographically diverse areas across the state to decide the exact language for such an amendment.

A committee in the New Hampshire House will vote on the bill in an executive session on Wednesday afternoon, while the appropriate Senate committee has not yet set a date for a vote. PFAW activists and allies will be back at the state capitol next week for a lobby day to meet with key representatives and senators on Wednesday, February 4th.

Interested in joining us? For more information and to RSVP, email Lindsay Jakows at ljjakows@gmail.com.
 

PFAW

New Hampshire Campaign to Become 17th State to Call for Amendment to Overturn ‘Citizens United’ Stalls

Rising from her chair in the Senate chamber of the capitol building in Concord, New Hampshire – the country’s oldest chamber still in use, housing democratic debate since 1819 – State Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-21) was unequivocal in her warning:

Citizens United is threatening our citizen-led legislature.”

Senator Clark’s words came yesterday afternoon as she spoke out in favor of SB 307, a bill that she introduced.  The legislation calls for a committee to examine the different constitutional amendments that are under consideration in the 113th Congress that would overturn Citizens United.  But in its most recent form, SB 307 needed a corrective amendment to realign the bill towards its original intent. The amendment would have declared that the committee would assume a constitutional amendment was necessary and discuss which proposal would be best, rather than to debate whether or not a constitutional amendment was needed in the first place.

By this point, the people of New Hampshire had already conveyed, through organizing, through polling, through walking across the state in the dead of winter, through the 48 town hall meetings that had just passed Citizens United amendment resolutions earlier in March, that the debate was long over: the country needs constitutional reform, and it needs it now.

Unfortunately, Senator Clark’s corrective measure failed on a 12-12 vote, with only one Republican, Senator Russell Prescott (R-23), crossing party lines to vote in favor. Russell stated on the Senate floor,

“I just can’t make the leap… that a corporation has the same First Amendment rights as people.” 

Notably, State Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-2) – whose district includes Bridgewater, Bristol, Dorchester, Groton, Piermont, Plymouth, and Tilton, towns that all had just voted in favor of an amendment – refused to support Senator Clark’s correction.

However not all hope is lost for New Hampshire to become the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment this legislative session.  SB 307 passed with the incorrect intent of examining the need for an amendment.  It will most likely be paired with a much stronger version of the bill from the House in conference committee, which could result in the stronger measure coming back to the Senate.  So it’s important to keep the pressure up.  

In the face of such obstruction, a quote from Winston Churchill comes to mind:

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” 

Senator Clark and the people of New Hampshire have brought the truth to Concord; it’s only a matter of time before the legislature acts on it.

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