New York

PFAW Foundation Releases Report on McCutcheon’s Impact on Campaign Spending in Eight States

Decision Could Balloon Spending In State Elections

WASHINGTON – Campaign spending in states with aggregate contribution limits will likely soon balloon in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC decision, according to a new report by People For the American Way Foundation.

The report analyzes the anticipated state impacts of the high court striking down limits on the total amount a donor can give directly to candidates, parties, and committees at the federal level in the McCutcheon ruling. It forecasts a spending explosion in states whose aggregate limits on contributions to state candidates will soon be challenged or nullified in light of the decision. Among other data, the report finds:

•        In New York, the current limit is $300,000 per two years. We estimate big donors will now be able to contribute $2,531,600 per election cycle, more than eight times the previous limit.

•        In Maryland, the current limit is $10,000 per four-year election cycle. We estimate big donors will now be able to contribute $768,000 per four-year election cycle. This is a greater than 76-fold increase.

The states analyzed in the report are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“The McCutcheon decision didn’t only undercut our federal campaign finance laws, it has ramifications for states across the country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way Foundation. “Allowing wealthy donors to put exponentially more money into state elections tilts the playing field even more starkly in their favor and strikes at the very foundation of our democracy.”

The report is available here: http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/how-supreme-courts-mccutcheon-decision-could-balloon-spending-state-electi

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People For the American Way Lobbies in Albany for a Constitutional Amendment to Reclaim our Democracy

On Monday, People For the American Way joined allied organizations and activists of the NY4Democracy coalition for a rally and lobby day at the Albany state house urging New York lawmakers to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, McCutcheon, and related cases. 

Over 100 activists joined the efforts, targeting state senators of all political persuasions to ask for their support in elevating the issue and calling for an amendment.  The group gathered in the morning to lobby senators and their staff, held a press conference at noon, and continued lobbying afterwards.  In total, NY4Democracy activists met with 32 senate offices. 

Click here to view a local news story about the lobby day.

Click here to view an interview with People For the American Way legislative representative Calvin Sloan on the Capital Tonight show.

 

(Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

(Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

(People For the American Way legislative representative Calvin Sloan -- Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

(Public Citizen’s director of the Democracy is For People campaign, Jonah Minkoff-Zern -- Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

(Move To Amend New York state coordinator, Victor Tiffany -- Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

(Communication Workers of America policy and legislative coordinator Joe Mayhey -- Photo credit Tony Cresswell)

 

If successful, NY4Democracy will help New York join the growing chorus of state and municipalities that have already called for an amendment.  To get involved with the campaign, please email amendment@pfaw.org with the subject line, “NY4Democracy.”  

PFAW

Video: PFAW’s Calvin Sloan Discusses Money in Politics on Capital Tonight

On Monday, People For the American Way joined ally organizations in the New York for Democracy Coalition in Albany to urge state lawmakers to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC.  If successful, New York would become the 17th state to go on record in support of such an amendment, joining a rapidly growing nationwide movement to reclaim our democracy.

People For the American Way’s legislative representative Calvin Sloan joined Nick Reisman on Capital Tonight to discuss the efforts underway in New York – and across the country – to fight back against the outsized influence of big money in our political system.

PFAW

Remembering Bobbie Handman

Barbara “Bobbie” Handman, a former Vice President of PFAW and PFAW Foundation, died on Thursday. For years, Bobbie’s creative energy and fierce commitment to the First Amendment shaped the organizations’ free expression work from New York City, where she was based. Bobbie’s long record of advocacy for free expression and the arts was recognized in 1998 when she received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton, Bobbie Handman, Bill Clinton

Bobbie’s years at PFAW were part of a long life of political activism. Time after time she responded to would-be censors by rallying well-known actors and writers to participate in public events that affirmed the value of artistic freedom. You can read more about Bobbie’s life and work in the obituary that appears in today’s New York Times. It ends with this quote from Norman Lear: “Bobbie was a lifelong lesson in perseverance. She made New York happen for People For the American Way. And she made everything grander. She dealt in grand.”

People For the American Way extends its heartfelt condolences to Bobbie’s husband Wynn Handman and the rest of their family.

PFAW Foundation

Open Season for Money in Politics in NYC

Citing Citizens United, a circuit court opens the floodgate for unlimited money to flow into the NYC mayoral election.
PFAW Foundation

Catholic League: De Blasio Should 'Honeymoon In North Korea,' Reveal Supposed Atheism

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is out today with a column in Newsmax attacking Bill de Blasio, the New York Democratic mayoral nominee, for his role in a group founded by a Catholic league.

While Donohue would typically go after anyone over anything critical they say about the Catholic Church, he lambastes de Blasio for working for the Jesuit Quixote Center in the 1980s. Donohue claims de Blasio should have mentioned “his extremist associations on his website” and admit that he is an atheist Marxist.

“Given de Blasio's insensitivity to Catholic concerns, it is not unfair to at least probe his religious affiliation,” Donohue writes. “If he is an atheist — his Latin-American dictatorial buddies surely are — we would like to know.”

“If he wins, maybe he'll honeymoon in North Korea. They would surely welcome him.”

Donohue added that Catholic voters should be wary about de Blasio because he opposes censorship of “anti-Catholic” art and the ban on gays marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan.

He may be the next mayor of the city of New York. Only recently have we learned who Bill de Blasio is (no one really cared much about him when he was the city's public advocate, an undefined made-out-of-whole-cloth job). Now that we have learned some important matters about his life, we are left with even more questions.

We know that his early political career was Marxist, and not just in an academic sense. He raised money for the Sandinistas, visited Nicaragua to align himself with the tyrants, and worked to undermine the efforts of the Reagan administration. No wonder he was endorsed by George Soros in August. Curiously, he decided to cover up his radical past: There is no mention of his extremist associations on his website.



Catholics should be especially wary of de Blasio. In November 2000, he took over as campaign manager for Hillary Clinton; she was running for the U.S. Senate seat in New York. The month before, the Brooklyn Museum of Art hosted a vile anti-Catholic exhibit that featured elephant dung smeared on a portrait of the Virgin Mary; pornographic pictures also adorned the "art."

Her rival, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (he would later drop out for health reasons), stood with the Catholic League; he even pledged to pull public funding to the museum (Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, who worked for Giuliani, also took this position). Clinton sided with the museum, endearing herself to the artistic community. In fact, it took her quite a while before she even said anything negative about the exhibit. Not unexpectedly, de Blasio went along.



Over the past decade, some New York public officials have decided not to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade because, they say, homosexuals are barred from marching. De Blasio is one of them. The claim is based on an out-and-out lie: Gays have never been banned from marching. What the parade officials insist on is that all contingents honor St. Patrick — they are not allowed to have their own floats and banners honoring their own cause. This is why pro-life Catholics are banned from marching under their own banner. As New York's Public Advocate, de Blasio decided he would rather show his solidarity with gays before siding with Irish Catholics.

Given de Blasio's insensitivity to Catholic concerns, it is not unfair to at least probe his religious affiliation. No one seems to know. We called his office and emailed his staff, but to no avail. If he is an atheist — his Latin-American dictatorial buddies surely are — we would like to know.

There is one Catholic connection that de Blasio has, and it is not one that any practicing Catholic would want to be associated with. In the 1980s, he was employed by the Quixote Center, a fringe group of Catholics so radical that they were investigated by the Treasury Department for smuggling guns to their Sandinista friends. Indeed, the Quixote Center was also the subject of probes by the IRS and the U.S. Customs Service at this time. This is the same group of zealots who defended the cop-killing racist Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther who became a hero to left-wing extremists.

The Quixote Center is hardly a model Catholic outfit. Its "We Are the Church" campaigns have all sought to upend the teachings of the Catholic Church. All of their efforts have failed. No matter, this is the kind of Catholic organization that excites de Blasio, ones that reject the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

When "Occupy Wall Street" protesters took over Zuccotti Park, trashing the area, raping women, ripping off the homeless, defecating in the street, and taunting the police, there was no bigger fan in New York City than Bill de Blasio, aka Warren Wilhelm, Jr., aka Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm. If he wins, maybe he'll honeymoon in North Korea. They would surely welcome him.

PFAW Releases New Toolkit on Getting Money Out and Voters In to Our Democracy

We believe in a democratic system where all Americans have equal access to the voting booth and can express their views on a level playing field.
PFAW

Money Out, Voters In: A Guide to Democratic Reform

Americans today face twin threats to the integrity of our democracy: unlimited spending to influence elections and voter suppression. Find out what you can do.

Pat Buchanan Isn't Sure What's Worse, Anthony Weiner's Sexting or Christine Quinn Being Married to a Woman

Pat Buchanan dedicates his latest syndicated column to New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s most recent sexting scandal, which he attempts to put into context by pointing to the moral failings of every other major New York politician. After all, Buchanan writes, one of Weiner’s main opponents in the mayoral race is Christine Quinn, “a lesbian about to marry another lesbian” (Quinn is in fact already married) and “the sitting mayor and governor are divorced and living with women not their wives.” Not only that, Buchanan says, but former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former senator Hillary Clinton both marched in New York City gay pride parades.

Buchanan concludes that these New York political leaders, along with the decriminalization of homosexuality, indicate that Weiner is “a mainstream liberal” and that we have become “a mentally and morally sick society.”

And Weiner's conduct does seem weird, creepy, crazy.

But it was not illegal. And as it was between consenting adults, was it immoral -- by the standards of modern liberalism?

In 1973, the "Humanist Manifesto II," a moral foundation for much of American law, declared: "The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered 'evil.' ... Individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire."

Is this not what Anthony was up to? Why then the indignation?

Consider how far we are along the path that liberalism equates with social and moral progress. Ronald Reagan was the first and is the only divorced and remarried man elected president.

But the front-runner in the New York mayor's race today quit Congress as a serial texter of lewd photos to anonymous women. The front-runner in the city comptroller's race was "Client No. 9" in the prostitution ring of the convicted madam who is running against him.
Weiner's strongest challenger for mayor is a lesbian about to marry another lesbian. The sitting mayor and governor are divorced and living with women not their wives. The former mayor's second wife had to go to court to stop his girlfriend from showing up at Gracie Mansion.

Weiner looks like a mainstream liberal.

Are we, possibly, a mentally and morally sick society?

Thirty year ago, homosexual acts were crimes. The Supreme Court has since discovered sodomy to be a constitutional right. State courts are discovering another new right -- of homosexuals to marry.

To call homosexuality unnatural, immoral or a mental disorder will soon constitute a hate crime in America.

Once we cast aside morality rooted in religion -- as the "Humanist Manifesto II" insists we do -- who draws the line on what is tolerable in the new dispensation.

Upon what moral ground do we stand to deny a man many wives, should he wish to leave behind many children, and the wives all consent to the arrangement? Biblically and historically, polygamy was more acceptable than homosexuality.

The second is now a constitutional right. Why not the first?

Are we not indeed headed "inevitably to utter irrationality and eventually political, as well as moral, chaos"?

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Clinton marched in gay pride parades with the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Anyone doubt that NAMBLA will one day succeed in having the age of consent for sex between men and boys dropped into the middle or low teens?

Cuomo Can Fix New York's 'Pay to Play' Reputation and Set National Example

The state of New York has become an embarrassing example of what can happen when money is allowed to rule politics. Earlier this month, for instance, two state lawmakers were arrested on corruption charges. It's a story that has become all too familiar in Albany, where a pervasive culture of corruption has led to the convictions of at least 13 state elected officials in the last ten years.

But New York and its governor, Andrew Cuomo, now have an opportunity to shed the state's pay-to-play image and lead the nation in fighting corruption. Good government advocates are pushing for the state to adopt a public financing system based on one that has met with success in New York City. The plan, which would provide matching funds for small donors, would help give candidates without big party or corporate backing the chance to compete in statewide elections. It would allow more voices to be heard in the political process and ensure that elected offices won't be handed to the highest bidder.

The Syracuse Post-Standard, in endorsing the measure, wrote, "There will always be more pressing spending priorities for taxpayer money. But when those priorities are thrown out of whack by the influence of big money on our politicians, something fundamental has to change." And all too often in New York, the priorities of voters are being superseded by the priorities of big campaign donors.

Shortly after the latest scandal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill to increase the penalties on state lawmakers accused of graft. That measure is useful, but on its own is not enough to change the culture in Albany. The public financing proposal, which would provide a meaningful solution to the problem of big money in New York politics, needs the governor's active support. So far, although supportive, Gov.Cuomo has not expended the energy in support of the measure needed for it to pass. He now has the chance to weigh in more forcefully and distinguish himself as a national leader on clean elections. With his full-throated endorsement, the measure would have a strong chance of becoming law, and New York could go from being one of the clearest examples of corrupt government to become a national model of reform.

Since the Supreme Court's outrageous Citizens United decision, which unleashed unlimited and unaccountable corporate spending into national politics, Americans have become increasingly wary of big-money influence in elections. A poll late last year found that 90 percent of Americans thought there was too much money in politics -- true bipartisan agreement! 84 percent agreed that "corporate money drowns out the voices of ordinary people." That's a lot of distrust from almost everybody in this country.

As a national movement to overturn Citizens United gains support, states and cities are leading the way with innovative and popular good government measures. New York, with Gov. Cuomo's support, could go from being a symbol of corruption to having some of the strongest clean elections laws in the country. That would be quite an enduring legacy.

This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

PFAW

As Washington Begins Debate on Gun Violence Bills, National Responses Vary

As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a package of gun violence prevention proposals this week, the current debate on the role of guns in society has led to a variety of legislative responses in D.C. and across the nation.
PFAW

Gun Violence Prevention Legislation Advances, Newtown Unites, and the Gun Lobby Doubles Down

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved gun violence prevention legislation with the support of Newtown citizens and other families across the nation. NRA officials, meanwhile, continue to rely on incendiary rhetoric and fear mongering.
PFAW

PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

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

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Still No Explanation From Grassley on Judiciary Committee Delays

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved five nominees to serve on federal district courts in New York, California and Florida and on the US Court of International Trade. A week ago, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley postponed votes on all five nominations without giving a reason, a delaying tactic that he has used on 97 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees who the committee has voted on.

Sen. Grassley did not explain the reason for the delay last week, when a coalition of Iowa and national groups urged him to stop such routine delays. And the reason remained unclear today, as all five nominees were approved without opposition.

These five nominees now join fifteen other federal judicial nominees awaiting confirmation votes from the full Senate. The Senate has made progress by scheduling confirmation votes on four unopposed district court nominees in the past week, but that small amount of progress isn’t nearly enough to fill the gaps in overworked federal courts. Seven of the nominees still waiting for votes would fill officially-designated “judicial emergencies.”

It would be easy, of course, for the Senate to hold votes on all of the remaining nominees before the end of the year. After all, most were approved by the Judiciary Committee many months ago. But Senate Republicans have continued to stall even nominees with strong bipartisan support. All the circuit court nominees waiting for votes have the support of their home-state senators, Republican and Democratic, and nearly all of the pending district court nominees were approved by the Judiciary Committee with unanimous or nearly unanimous bipartisan support. One circuit court nominee, New Jersey’s Patty Shwartz, has been waiting nine months just for an up-or-down vote from the Senate; Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto has also been waiting since March.

If the Senate fails to vote on these nominees during the lame duck, the confirmation process – from presidential nomination through floor vote – will have to start all over again next year.

Notable about the district court nominees approved by the Judiciary Committee today is that all are women or people of color, representative of President Obama’s efforts to bring diversity to the federal courts. The nominees also include New York’s Pamela Chen, who would become just the fifth openly gay person to be confirmed to a lifetime federal judgeship.

PFAW

Religious Right Rabbi Blames Hurricane Sandy on Gays, Marriage Equality

This post has been updated, 11/5/2012

Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency is blaming Hurricane Sandy on gays and lesbians, calling it “divine justice” for New York’s new marriage equality law. Torah Jews for Decency campaigned against marriage equality in New York and New Jerseyworked with Liberty Counsel and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms in an unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn New York’s marriage law, and has joined with various other Religious Right groups on anti-gay campaigns.

Yesterday, Leiter appeared on Crosstalk, the flagship program of Vic Eliason’s Voice of Christian Youth America, alongside Neil DiCarlo, a candidate for New York State Senate, to discuss New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

Leiter asserted that the “the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages,” adding that there are similar “messages in this particular storm for us.” “The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that’s occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn,” he said. “We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don’t shape up He will deliver divine justice.” Leiter also suggested that God flooded Lower Manhattan because it is “one of the national centers of homosexuality.”

Listen:

Later in the program, Leiter argued that the “LGBT radical homosexualist movement” threatens the survival of society and religious freedom and will even increase child abuse by giving molesters a “license to victimize” children and even “a certain degree of diplomatic immunity.”

Eliason: Rabbi Leiter, you have been passionately involved in the fight for biblical, moral values, why?

Leiter: I think that’s what the Lord wants us to do and if we do not we face an existential threat. There is an issue of the survival of morality being necessary for the survival of society, and that’s not just an issue that’s specific to marriage. In addition there’s an issue of religious liberty. The LGBT radical homosexualist movement is really the Avant-guard of Bible-haters of all different types, not just limited to the left. The advance towards homosexual rights and so-called marriage is not predicated on getting rights, and just thereby stepping on the rights of Bible believers. The purpose is to bash Bible-believers using their so-called rights as a pretext do so and that’s why it is so critical to oppose them because they’re not after something that they think is theirs, they’re after us.



Leiter: There are so many things that people could point out about the negatives aspects of the homosexual lifestyle that is being touted as being this wonderful idea that the media doesn’t talk about. We’re talking about victimization that goes on under the rubric of protecting people’s rights; they’re not interested in protecting people’s rights, they’re interested in giving people a license to victimize, particularly to victimize children, and we pick up the pieces on some of that. We know how hard this is hitting society. The crisis of child molestation is not independent of the intentional proliferation of unfettered homosexuality, they are definitely connected, it doesn’t meant that every molester is homosexual but many of them are, there is a disproportionate number that are homosexual males. They are in some cases being given a certain degree of diplomatic immunity because of their favored status centered around a common vice. That’s something that no state has a right to do.

UPDATE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the remarks in a statement today:

The comments made by Rabbi Noson Leiter that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state's embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant. This catastrophic storm claimed the lives of more than forty New Yorkers. This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy. Our state is proud to offer equal rights to all our citizens, and we will never tolerate the use of a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to promote a divisive and bigoted agenda. I call on Rabbi Leiter to apologize immediately for his hurtful comments.

Former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, also took Leiter to task for his comments, while DiCarlo stood by the Rabbi:

Pataki called on fellow Republican Neil DiCarlo — who is running on the Conservative Party line for a state Senate seat from the Hudson Valley — to denounce the remarks of Rabbi Noson Leiter. DiCarlo opposes gay marriage, and the orthodox rabbi made the statements in support of his third-party candidacy.

“It’s simply incomprehensible that anyone could attribute the devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy to divine retribution against the New York State legislature,” Pataki railed.

“It’s like blaming America’s belief in freedom for the attacks of Sept. 11,” Pataki added.

...

Pataki argued that because Leiter’s remarks were made in support of DiCarlo, the candidate “has a responsibility to repudiate them.”

Reached by phone, DiCarlo refused to take that step when asked repeatedly. He instead questioned Pataki’s motives.

“Ask Mr. Pataki why he endorsed my opponent, and why he is bringing this up two days before the election — and then I’ll answer your question,” DiCarlo said before hanging up.

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

Big Love at King’s College: D'Souza's Mistress Was Also Married

On the heels of a sex scandal, Dinesh D’Souza announced his resignation today as president of King’s College in New York. D’Souza, star of the nonsensical anti-Obama film 2016: Obama's America and defender of traditional marriage, was recently caught cavorting with a much younger woman while still married to his wife. And now to make matters worse, it appears that his mistress was also married.

UPDATE: Making voter registration easier in New York

More good news from New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new initiative that will expand access to voter registration.
PFAW Foundation

Young Elected Progressives Program Candidates

As we continue to reveal the 2012 endorsed candidates of PFAW’s Young Elected Progressives program, here are three more great individuals, 35 or younger, running for office: Andrew Gounardes (NY), Micah Z. Kellner (NY) and Tim Keller (NM).

Andrew Gounardes

Andrew Gounardes is running to represent Brooklyn in the New York Senate. He currently serves as a member of Community Board 10 in New York City and is an attorney for the Citizens Committee, a non-profit organization focusing on providing funds for neighborhood improvement. When in school, Gounardes was the first Student Advisory Member to the Panel for Education Policy in New York City and he later worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. If elected, Gounardes will use his leadership experience to pass legislation improving public education, campaign finance laws and more. Visit his website here.

Micah Z. Kellner

Micah Z. Kellner is running for reelection to the New York Assembly. He has been serving in the Assembly since 2007 and has proven to be a great progressive leader. Kellner is a member on several committees including the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection and the Committee on Cities. He has been a strong advocate for the disabilities community, as well as for marriage equality and reproductive freedom. Kellner also has fought for increases in the quality of public education through increased funding and is a champion for the middle class, as well, with efforts to make housing more affordable for all New Yorkers. Visit his website here.

Tim Keller

Tim Keller is running for reelection to the New Mexico Senate. After graduating from college, Keller established Data Digital Divide, which helps land mine victims in Cambodia. Upon moving back home to New Mexico, he began working for Booz and Company, a management and strategy firm, and eventually rose to the position of Senior Manager. He has built up a strong record in office and with his business experience, has fought to put New Mexicans back to work and improve the economy. Keller was elected to the Senate in 2008 and has been named to multiple committees including: Education, Military & Veterans’ Affairs and is the Chair of Science, Technology & Telecommunications. Visit his website here.

PFAW

Rep. Tom Reed's Racist Friends Ridicule His Opponent's Asian Ancestry (VIDEO)

Republican Congressman Tom Reed is running to represent the newly created 23rd district in upstate New York, which covers much of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. He has a strong ally in WYSL, a right-wing talk radio station near Rochester that broadcasts throughout much of the district. On the one hand, it’s great to have friends who run a big radio station:

But Reed’s radio buddies caused trouble for him on Friday when they repeatedly ridiculed the Asian ancestry of Reed’s opponent Nate Shinagawa, a Democratic county legislator and hospital administrator from Ithaca. Shinagawa is a third-generation Japanese America whose grandfather was interned in California during World War II, only to enlist in the Marines upon release.

But that stuff doesn’t matter to WYSL host Bill Nojay and owner Bob Savage. They think Shinagawa has a funny name and must not be from around these parts. Here’s what Nojay, Savage, and a producer had to say about Shinagawa last Friday:
Nojay: Now you should be impressed that I know how to pronounce Shinagawa. Shinagawa ready to face Reed. He’s the guy who won the Democrat primary. He hails from the People’s Republic.
Producer: He’s gonna lose, just because of his name.
Nojay: Now that’s not a particularly nice thing to say.
Savage (in a stereotypical, derogatory Asian voice): Xenophobic. Xenophobic.
As the three go on talking about how “Shinagawa is going to lose” and “hasn’t done anything with his life,” a song begins playing in the background – it’s the 1963 hit song “Sukiyaki” by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto. With the song mocking Shinagawa playing in the background, Nojay and his producer reveal just how tight they are with Reed:
Nojay: If I made a contribution to Reed’s campaign, I wonder if I can get a refund. He doesn’t need the money anymore … Whoop, I shouldn’t have said that. He’s gonna get mad at me.
Producer: You’re gonna be getting a phone call.
Nojay: Alright. Send money now to Tom Reed’s campaign, he’ll make good use of it. Reed’s a great candidate. He does need our help.
You can listen to their segment below. Note that Nojay’s comment about the “People’s Republic” refers to Ithaca and is one of the few things from the segment that isn’t racist. The “People’s Republic” moniker is a popular, if lame, trope of conservatives who like to put down various college towns – especially Berkeley – as being out of touch with real America.
 
 
Nojay isn’t just a right-wing talker on WYSL, he’s also a candidate in the GOP primary for a newly drawn seat in the New York Assembly. When he and Savage realized on Monday that not everyone was laughing along with their racist jokes, they decided to play dumb and deny everything. I’ll have more on their cowardly, and implausible, denials shortly, but it’s important not to lose focus on Reed.
 
Reed hasn’t just appeared multiple times on Nojay’s show. He (or his campaign) is apparently in close contact with Nojay, who used his show to solicit funds for Reed’s campaign. And he had praise heaped upon him at the same time his radio buddies were mocking his opponent’s Asian ancestry.
 
Reed can’t just excuse himself from this controversy. He has a responsibility to publicly call out his buddies and say that their racism has no place in American politics.
 
[Right Wing Watch is a project of People For the American Way, whose affiliated PAC has endorsed Shinagawa]
 
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