Citizens United v. FEC

Student Uses Online Video to Help Get Big Money Out of Politics and Spread the Word About Campaign Finance Reform

Democracy For All Video Challenge Gives Americans Platform to Protest Billions of Dollars Spent on Elections

WASHINGTON – With the 2016 presidential race in full swing and more than 85 percent of Americans wanting to see a change in the way political campaigns are funded, an online video competition is encouraging people to express their views on big money in politics. The Democracy For All Video Challenge, spearheaded by Say No To Big Money and People For the American Way, selects a different best video every week from submissions made by people across the country.

The video selected this week was made by Tomas Gaspar, a sophomore at Lake Michigan College majoring in pre-nursing. Gaspar’s video shows voters being turned away from the ballot box unless they have money to donate and highlights the frustration felt by Americans who feel they are being shut out of the political process.

“I decided to produce a video because it gave me the opportunity to express my own views as well as providing a chance to influence other people, and I found that to be very powerful,” said Gaspar. “We have so many tools at our disposal to reach others; I think people need to take a more active role in communicating about important issues."

The video can be viewed at www.democracyforall.com/entries/greedy_ballot_box. All of the winning videos to-date are available to view at www.democracyforall.com/winners. People can enter the video challenge by submitting 30-90 second videos between now and Dec. 2. Full details are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com.

“Instead of telling people how they should think, we are letting people tell us what they think,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money which created the video challenge. “We want to engage people in the political process and not preach to them; this video challenge gives people an opportunity to express how they feel with the hope that it will be a call to action for others.”

The Democracy For All Video Challenge was created by Say No To Big Money and People For the American Way to tap into the creative potential of people in the United States who support a constitutional amendment that would allow for reasonable limits to be set on money in elections. A panel of judges selects the most impactful videos with $1,000 being awarded to the best video each week. At the conclusion of the video challenge, five best in category videos will be awarded $5,000 each, with $25,000 being awarded to the best overall video. Rather than hire an advertising agency to produce the spots, the sponsor organizations developed the Video Challenge to enable the true voice of Americans to be heard and give people across the country a chance to earn money for their efforts.

The Democracy For All Amendment, currently being considered by Congress with 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, would overturn decisions such as Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy. 

People For the American Way (PFAW) is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American. That means equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. More information is available at www.PFAW.org.

Say No To Big Money is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation for the public benefit with the mission of supporting the ratification of the Democracy For All Amendment that will regulate campaign contributions. Say No To Big Money is nonpartisan and does not promote or take sides on any political issues nor endorse candidates or elections. More information is available at www.SayNoToBigMoney.com.

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Citizens United and the Supreme Court

Big money in politics has become an existential threat to our democracy. So how did we get here? Short answer: The Supreme Court.

Animated Video Wins $1,000 Cash in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Video with Splashy Animated Graphics from Student in Pittsburgh Is Seventh Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy For All Video Challenge

$57,000 in Cash Prizes Still Available With New Winners Announced Weekly

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the seventh of 14 weekly winners in a new contest tapping into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics.

This week’s winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is an animated video from a student based in Pittsburgh that highlights the need for a constitutional amendment to reform our campaign finance system so other pressing matters can be solved.  The short video mixes animation and music with a written script on screen.  The video explains: “We cannot solve the urgent problems of our time from catastrophic climate change to historic economic inequality without a government that works for the people…The time for change is now. A healthy democracy needs all of our voices.”

Click here to see End Corruption, Restore Democracy: http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/end-corruption-restore-democracy/

Previous contest winners include videos tying a lack of campaign finance regulations to student loan debt and the excessive political influence of the chemical industry.  Last week’s winner was a video honoring the improbable flight of Florida postman Doug Hughes – who flew a gyrocopter onto the US Capitol in April in order to bring awareness to the need to fix our country’s broken campaign finance system.

From its August launch through December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, including a $25,000 grand prize. Supporters of an amendment to fix the nation’s campaign finance system have already submitted a diverse array of entries. 



“This video captures the urgency of the reforming our broken campaign finance laws in a way that is concise, engaging and ultimately uplifting,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money.

“I believe we need nothing short of a mass movement of civil resistance to get money out of politics, and I saw this video contest as another way to build that movement,” added winner Kyle Amsler. “I know that accessible, quality education and healthcare services are blocked by corporate interests in this country due to their ability to influence and ultimately corrupt our government for their own personal and business gain. That is fundamentally wrong and I intend to fight it.”

Click here to see more about the contest and additional entries: http://democracyforall.com/



The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy. 



Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations. 

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com.

PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker and Say No to Big Money President Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please contact Alec Saslow at Alec@FitzGibbonmedia.com or 720-319-4948.

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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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Compelling Video on Gyrocopter Pilot’s Fight for Campaign Finance Solutions Wins $1,000 Cash in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

New Video Highlighting Doug Hughes’ April Flight onto US Capitol Lawn Is Sixth Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy For All Video Challenge

$58,000 in Cash Prizes Still Available With New Winners Announced Weekly

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the sixth of 14 weekly winners in a new contest tapping into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. 

This week’s winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is a video highlighting the improbable flight of Florida postman Doug Hughes – who flew a gyrocopter onto the US Capitol in April in order to bring awareness to the need to fix our country’s broken campaign finance system, including through a constitutional amendment. The video, An American Mailman’s Flight for Freedom, was created by filmmaker Mara Ditchfield of Los Angeles and tells Hughes’ story through news clips of his flight to the Capitol in the style of a movie trailer.

Click here to see An American Mailman’s Flight for Freedom: http://democracyforall.com/entries/american-mailman-flight/   

Previous contest winners include videos tying a lack of campaign finance regulations to student loan debt and the excessive political influence of the chemical industry.  Last week’s winner was a satirical video in the format of a PSA which goaded corporations to increase their political spending.

From its August launch through December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, including a $25,000 grand prize. Supporters of an amendment to fix the nation’s campaign finance system have already submitted a diverse array of entries. 

“This video captures a moment in time that sparked a debate about our broken campaign finance system that allows for the virtually unchecked political influence of corporations,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money. “The Democracy For All Video Challenge is about making sure lawmakers understand the public is focused on this issue in a sustained, persistent manner.”

“Doug Hughes' story has this very powerful, modern day ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington’ kind of appeal,” said contest winner Mara Ditchfield. “He flew into Washington not just to highlight the problem in a dramatic way, but also to highlight solutions.” 

Click here to see more about the contest and additional entries: http://democracyforall.com/

The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy. 

Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations.

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com. PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker and Say No to Big Money President Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please contact Alec Saslow at Alec@FitzGibbonmedia.com or 720-319-4948.

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PFAW Statement on O’Malley Plan to Address Money in Politics

WASHINGON – Yesterday presidential candidate Martin O’Malley released his agenda for taking on the destructive effects of big money in our democracy. In July, People For the American Way and twelve other organizations released a comprehensive platform on fighting big money in politics and called on each presidential candidate to endorse the set of policies, many of which are included in O’Malley’s plan.

People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“Martin O’Malley has released a strong proposal aimed at fixing our broken campaign finance system. In particular, his support for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United echoes the calls for reform across the country, and should be applauded.

“There are some aspects in which O’Malley’s agenda falls short of the comprehensive policy platform released by leading democracy groups. But his proposal is a strong step in the right direction, and we look forward to hearing more from his campaign going forward.”

Reforming our money in politics system is a top concern for Americans across the board. New national polling released this week by Bloomberg Politics found that 78 percent of Americans believe that the Supreme Court Citizens United decision should be overturned. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this summer found that when ranking top concerns about the 2016 election, a third of respondents highlighted “the sway that companies and wealthy individuals may have over the outcome” – more than any other issue asked about in the poll.

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New Satirical Video Wins $1,000 Cash in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

“PSA” Urging Corporations to Spend More Money Is Fifth Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy For All Video Challenge

$59,000 in Cash Prizes Still Available With New Winners Announced Weekly

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the fifth of 14 weekly winners in a new contest tapping into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. 

This week’s winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is a satirical video in the format of a PSA titled “The Citizens United PSA” by James Parker of Southern California.

The video uses satire to highlight the dysfunction of the American political system and the undue influence of corporations in elections.  The narrator goads corporations to increase their political spending, saying: “Have a law you need crushed or a bill you need rushed? Simply pay for it… America, government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation. Freedom!”

Click here to see “The Citizens United PSA:” http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/the-citizens-united-psa/

Previous contest winners include videos tying a lack of campaign finance regulations to student loan debt and the excessive political influence of the chemical industry.  Last week’s winner was an original song from a rapper who uses activism to communicate on hot-button issues.

From its August launch through December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, including a $25,000 grand prize. Supporters of an amendment to fix the nation’s campaign finance system have already submitted a diverse array of entries. 

“Satire has great power to point out what pure outrage sometimes cannot,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money. “This video is a great example of the type of creative message that can help drive Americans to contact their lawmakers to convey the urgency of the need to fix our broken campaign finance system.”

“I entered this contest to show support in the effort to reverse Citizens United and join voices with the overwhelming number of citizens in the U.S. who oppose unchecked corporate participation in our democratic system,” added winner James Parker, a documentary filmmaker. “It seems so illogical to give corporate interests the same power as an individual citizen, and I think it's pretty clear where the public opinion lies.”

Click here to see more about the contest and additional entries: http://democracyforall.com/

The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy. 

Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations.

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com. PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker and Say No to Big Money President Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please contact Alec Saslow at Alec@FitzGibbonmedia.com or 720-319-4948.

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Citizens United and the Court: How the Supreme Court Created Our Current Money in Politics System, and How it Can Fix It

Big money in politics has become an existential threat to our democracy. So how did we get here?

Short answer: The Supreme Court.

 

Citizens United v. FEC is one of several Supreme Court decisions that have opened the floodgates for unlimited big money in our elections and are now preventing even the most common-sense campaign finance regulations. 

The judicial philosophy that has enabled these decisions is one that is hostile to democratic principles and disproportionately favorable to the rich and powerful. That philosophy is currently held by a slim five-justice majority on the Roberts Court.

A different Court majority, one acknowledging the disastrous errors in the reasoning behind Citizens United and related cases, could eventually overturn those decisions.  However, that couldn’t happen overnight.

Citizens United itself undermined a century of established law allowing for certain limits on campaign spending, but that decision and even more recent ones, like McCutcheon v. FEC and Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, have now established their own precedents that could take several cases and many years to overturn fully.

While a more democracy-friendly Supreme Court majority is essential for so many reasons, the long and daunting road to a Court decision overturning Citizens United shows the persisting need to pursue permanent constitutional remedies, driven by a popular national movement and legislation to pass and ratify a 28th constitutional amendment. 

Rap Activist Wins $1,000 Cash in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Original Song “Freedom Ain’t Free” Is Fourth Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy For All Video Challenge

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the fourth of 14 weekly winners in a new contest tapping into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics.

This week’s winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is an original rap titled “Freedom Ain’t Free” by Maurice "Macarone" Bradford, a Los Angeles-based activist who uses rap to communicate on hot-button political issues. The rap highlights the problems of a political system hijacked by business interests that leaves everyday Americans disenfranchised. Amidst fast paced rhymes, Bradford says: “Politics is business…Rich get their wish list; poor don’t get no Christmas; middle class is dismissed; I guess you must’ve missed this.”

Click here to see “Freedom Ain’t Free:” http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/freedom-aint-free-by-macarone/

Previous contest winners include videos tying a lack of campaign finance regulations to student loan debt and the undue political influence of the chemical industry.

From its August launch through December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, including a $25,000 grand prize. Supporters of an amendment to fix the nation’s campaign finance system have already submitted a diverse array of entries.

“This rap embodies the elements of creativity and dynamism that have made the Democracy For All Video Challenge exciting to be a part of,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money. “It’s vital for talented artists and musicians to engage in pushing for reasonable campaign finance regulations – and we’re thrilled Mr. Bradford is part of our fight.”

“We use our music as a weapon in the fight to make this country a better place for everyone,” added contest winner Maurice Bradford of his band, D.O.P, Inc. “No matter what your issue is, it will never be cured as long as we have billionaires and corporations buying up our political system.”

Click here to see more about the contest and additional entries: http://democracyforall.com/

The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy.

Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations.

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com. PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker and Say No to Big Money President Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please contact Alec Saslow at Alec@FitzGibbonmedia.com or 720-319-4948.

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Current Legislative Remedies to Fix Money in Politics

There are no silver bullets in the fight to get big money out of politics -- we need a comprehensive set of policy solutions that can help reclaim our democracy for everyday Americans. As we fight to enact the Democracy For All Amendment, which would overturn decisions like Citizens United and permit commonsense campaign finance legislation in the future, we must also work to enact reforms that could have meaningful impact right now.

Amending the Constitution to Overturn Citizens United: Why an Amendment is Necessary

Under the Court’s flawed interpretation of the First Amendment, our elected representatives in Congress and the states are hamstrung in their ability to control the excesses of election spending that we are currently seeing.

First $1,000 Weekly Winner Announced in Video Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

‘Campaign Finance Rap’ Marks First Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy for All Video Contest

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the first of 14 weekly winners in a new contest tapping into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics.

The first winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is a spoken-word rap that ties corruption in the chemical industry to lobbying and campaign contributions that hijack the political system from everyday Americans and was submitted by Ruben Diaz of Oakland, California, also known by the name “Chemical Free Papi.”

Click here to see the winning video: http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/its-a-wrap-for-citizens-united-the-rap/

From when the contest launched in August until December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, including a $25,000 grand prize. Supporters of an amendment to fix the nation’s campaign finance system have already submitted a diverse array of entries.

“This video is a great example of the type of creativity and passion that’s vital for Americans everywhere to see,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money. “We’re thrilled to provide a platform for engaging and important messages like these and look forward to more entries that tap into everyone’s potential to tell lawmakers in their own words why it’s time to fix our broken system and restore our democracy.” 

“I don't have millions of dollars, but my voice is louder than any CEO or politician’s will ever be,”  added contest winner, Ruben Diaz, who raps as a hobby and decided to enter the contest in order to voice his frustration about campaign finance regulations.

Click here to see more about the contest and additional entries: http://democracyforall.com/

The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 137 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy.

Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations.

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com. Marge Baker and Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please reach out to Layne Amerikaner at media@pfaw.org.

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Beyond Citizens United: Bennett, McCutcheon, and Other Ominous Signs for the Future

After Citizens United, the conservatives on the Supreme Court continued to erode campaign finance regulation by using the principles of free speech to allow wealthy special interests to spend unlimited money in elections.

Expanding Democracy by Amending the Constitution to Get Money Out of Politics

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Ninety-five years ago today, we added an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that women have a right to vote in our elections. While today women's suffrage seems like a no-brainer to everyone -- except maybe Ann Coulter -- it was not an inevitability that simply fell into place. Women were not "given" the right to vote. It was an amendment that women fought for, tooth and nail, for more than 70 years in every state across the country

In a 2010 piece about the suffrage movement, New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote that "behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time." It was a painstaking process of organizing, state by state, that ultimately led to the 19th Amendment.

It's not a fast process to amend the Constitution -- just ask Susan B. Anthony, who organized for decades and didn't live to see the passage of the women's suffrage amendment. It shouldn't be easy to change our country's guiding document. But we have a history of passing amendments, when necessary, to make our democracy more inclusive, and often to correct serious harm done by the Supreme Court. The women's suffrage amendment overturned a 1875 decision that held women didn't have a right to vote. In all, seven of the 17 constitutional amendments adopted since the Bill of Rights have reversed damaging Supreme Court decisions that threatened popular democracy.

Today we're facing another serious threat to our democracy: Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United. 

In the wake of decisions allowing unlimited spending to influence elections, money has inundated our political system like never before. 2014 was the most expensive midterm in history, but with fewer donors than in past elections. The 2016 presidential election is already on its way toward eclipsing all previous records. We're seeing more and more money from fewer and fewer donors, and it's taking a real toll on the functioning of our system.

There is a nationwide movement pushing for a constitutional amendment that would overturn decisions like Citizens United and take our political process back from the tremendous influence of big corporations and moneyed interests. Like the women's suffrage movement, it's a slow process of building support city by city, state by state, one conversation at a time. So far 16 states and 650 cities and towns have gone on record in support of an amendment, and momentum continues to build

The campaign for an amendment, like the Democracy For All amendment being considered in Congress, is grounded in simple ideas: we should be able to set reasonable limits on money in elections. The size of your wallet shouldn't determine the strength of your voice. Our elected officials should be paying attention to the needs and priorities of everyday Americans rather than following a political agenda set by wealthy special interests.

On Women's Equality Day we celebrate the expansion of political rights almost a century ago. It was an expansion based on the recognition that our political system is for all of us. But as the foundation of representative democracy is threatened by an overwhelming influx of money in elections -- to the point where all of us can no longer be heard in our democracy -- we are called to amend the Constitution again.

PFAW

What Is Citizens United?

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations have a constitutionally protected right to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns. Citizens United opened the floodgates to unlimited outside spending in our elections and struck a devastating blow to our democracy. The size of one's wallet should not determine the strength of one's political power.

Groups Launch Innovative Video Contest With $64,000 In Cash Prizes To Target Out Of Control Campaign Finance System

Say No to Big Money and PFAW Launch Contest With Prize Money Awarded Weekly for User-Generated Videos Encouraging Action on a Constitutional Amendment to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way, with the backing of more than 150 organizations, are launching the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge, a contest seeking to tap into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes through short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. From today until December 2, contest entrants can submit a 30-90 second video that includes a call-to-action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money.

“With money already flooding into the 2016 campaigns, we know that Americans get the problem,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way. “They’re ready to talk about solutions. We want everyday Americans to use their creativity to support getting big money out of politics. We want ordinary people to have a voice, which is why this contest, like the Democracy For All Amendment, embraces the true spirit of the First Amendment.”

“When enough Americans work together in pushing Congress to act, that’s when we’ll repair our broken democracy,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money. “This contest asks those entering not only to speak out, but to encourage others to take action, too. The contest is designed to cause a chain reaction. When we activate enough constituents, the power of grassroots action will prove greater even than the power of big money.”

The Democracy For All Amendment is a proposal being considered by Congress, currently with 137 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy.

Say No to Big Money, the official sponsor of the contest, and People For the American Way are partnering with Act.TV, Agenda Project, American Family Voices, Coalition to Restore Democracy, Coffee Party USA, Courage Campaign, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, National Priorities Project, PF Pictures, People’s Email Network, Public Citizen, and US PIRG in this effort, with the support of more than 140 other organizations.

Full contest details and rules are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com. Marge Baker and Jeff Haggin are available to speak with press. To arrange an interview, please reach out to Layne Amerikaner at media@pfaw.org.

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Organizations Unite in Fight Against Big Money

Today PFAW and 11 other organizations released “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda,” a money in politics reform agenda directed at 2016 presidential candidates. The memo details a specific set of policies and encourages candidates to commit to supporting them.

Goals of the agenda include amplifying the voices of everyday Americans through meaningful contribution limits, real-time disclosure of political contributions, overturning cases like Citizens United through the Democracy For All constitutional amendment, and enforcing existing campaign finance laws to help ensure that money is not allowed to overshadow the priorities of the people.

According to the agenda:

The size of your wallet should not determine the strength of your political voice. But, in a long series of decisions beginning with Buckley v. Valeo and escalating with Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court has cemented a flawed reading of our Constitution that strips the ability of We the People to impose common sense limits on election spending.

"Fighting Big Money, Empowering People” has been distributed to every announced 2016 candidate, many of whom have already voiced their support for fighting big money in elections. It’s time to move from rhetoric toward a commitment to specific, comprehensive solutions.

You can share the graphic below to show your solidarity with getting big money out of politics and returning power to everyday Americans. Together we can make a democracy where everyone participates, everyone’s voice is heard, and everyone plays by fair, common-sense rules.


PFAW

PFAW and Allies Release Money in Politics Reform Agenda for 2016 Candidates

12 Organizations Call on All Candidates to Sign onto Comprehensive Agenda

WASHINGTON – Today People For the American Way joined 11 other organizations in releasing “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda,” a comprehensive policy platform for reducing the corrosive influence of big money in our political system. The organizations called on every presidential candidate to endorse this set of policies and to incorporate them into their campaign platforms.

“It’s encouraging to hear candidates speak out about money in politics, but there’s a big difference between talk and action,” said People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “We want to see candidates commit to a comprehensive set of policy solutions to address the influx of big money in our elections. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly want to see an overhaul of our campaign finance system. If candidates are listening to their constituents, they know it’s in their best interest to get on board with this agenda.”

Measures outlined in the agenda include, among others:

• The Democracy For All constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC;
• Increased disclosure of political contributions and expenditures;
• Public funding support to encourage the participation of small donors in elections; and more.

In addition to People For the American Way, organizations signed onto the agenda include: Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Democracy Matters, Demos, Every Voice, Issue One, Mayday, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and U.S. PIRG.

PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker is available for interviews. To arrange one, please contact Layne Amerikaner at media@pfaw.org or call 202-467-4999.

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The Vice President Calls for Action to Fight Big Money in Politics

Last week the fight against big money in politics received renewed, and passionate, support from Vice President Joe Biden. During a speech to young activists at the Make Progress summit on July 16th, Biden issued a call to action:

"We can do something about the corrosive impact of massive amounts of money. We can demand that the people we support don't yield to millionaires and billionaires. [Instead, they can] take their money in limited amounts, but what are we doing?"

The Obama administration has already declared its support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United (2010), but the Vice President called for a more immediate form of action: holding candidates accountable. "Folks, we ought to start in our own party. You ought to be demanding of all of us, all of us, because at least in our own party fights among ourselves, in primaries, that we adhere to a policy that doesn't rest on millionaires and billionaires."

This was a speech tailored to mobilize activists who have been part of a slow fight since 2010. Although progress has been made, with over 650 cities, 16 states, and 73% of Americans in support of a constitutional amendment, we have yet to see any real change in the way campaigns are funded. The 2016 presidential race is already seeing the effects of Super PAC funding and that influence will only continue to grow.

Biden clearly intended to inspire a new generation of activists by focusing on what the attendees themselves could do to help fix the system, saying, “If you're ever going to be involved in public service this is the time to do it, because things are changing.”

Hopefully the Vice President’s passion and optimism is an indication of the change that is coming in our campaign finance system. As Vice President Biden put it, the current system of auctioning our elections to the highest bidder is “a hell of a way to run a democracy."

 

PFAW

130 Members of Congress Call for Executive Order on Disclosure of Political Spending

Yesterday 130 senators and representatives urged President Obama to issue an executive order requiring companies that receive government contracts to disclose their political spending. A letter signed by more than one hundred representatives highlighted the lack of transparency in our current system and the important steps the president can take to help fix this:

Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent and you have the power to ensure that the American people can obtain this information. With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by executive order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner.

A letter signed by 26 senators echoed this call, arguing that an executive order would help restore confidence in our political system:

In our view, campaign finance disclosure is another issue that demands immediate action to restore the public’s faith in our democracy.

It’s not just members of Congress who are calling on the president to act. More than 83,000 PFAW members and supporters have signed our petition to the president urging him to issue an executive order. Several thousand more contacted their members of Congress asking them to sign on to the letters sent yesterday.

Right now corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, and they can do so in secret by funneling that spending though “dark money” groups. But if President Obama were to issue an executive order, some of the nation’s biggest corporations – like Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, and any other government contractor – would have to disclose their political spending.

President Obama himself has called for a more transparent and accountable democracy. In his State of the Union address in January, he criticized “dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter” and called for a “better politics.” Now is the president’s chance to help create that “better politics.”

PFAW
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