Government By the People

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and Academy Award-Nominated Actress Kathleen Turner Gather to Name Winners of Democracy For All Video Challenge and Raise Awareness of Big Money in Politics

Americans Speak Up about Big Money in Politics as Part of Competition
to Produce Public Service Videos

WASHINGTON – Today the winners of the Democracy For All Video Challenge were announced at an event aimed at putting the issue of big money in politics front-and-center and creating a platform for people to express themselves and take action to support the Democracy For All Amendment. Two advocacy organizations, Say No To Big Money and People For the American Way, created the video challenge that encouraged Americans to produce public service announcements supporting the proposed Democracy For All Amendment.

Speaking at the National Press Club event was U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-21), who are lead cosponsors of the Democracy For All Amendment (H.J.Res.22, S.J.Res.5). The winning videos were announced by Academy Award-nominated actress Kathleen Turner, with Say No To Big Money president Jeff Haggin and People For The American Way president Michael Keegan and executive vice president Marge Baker also speaking.

The grand prize video, “Voters, assemble!” was created by Bryan Warner – a nonprofit communications director from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina – and uses animation to depict a secret meeting between a group of villains who are plotting to nefariously influence politics by using big money. The video illustrates how easy it is for corporations and special interest groups to buy their way into Washington and influence policy in their favor. As the grand prize winner of the video challenge, Warner will receive $25,000.

“Americans are fed up with millionaires and billionaires pumping money into shadowy Super PACs to buy our elections,” said Sen. Udall. “And thanks to the Supreme Court’s flawed decisions, including Citizens United six years ago, Congress is powerless to pass common-sense campaign finance laws. That’s why I’m pushing for a constitutional amendment to overturn those bad decisions so we can get big money out of politics. Millions of Americans nationwide have joined this grassroots push, and the Democracy For All video challenge has been a creative way to amplify our cause. Each video speaks to the core of our message – voters should have the loudest voices in our democracy, not wealthy special interests.” 

Congressman Deutch added, “A democracy for sale is not a democracy for all. Until we overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, corporations and a handful of billionaires will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying our elections and setting the agenda in Washington. Like the Democracy for All Amendment, the Democracy for All video contest is about elevating the voices of everyday Americans who may not be able to afford their own Super PACs but who have every right to be heard.”

Awards were also given to five other videos, with the creators receiving $5,000 each. The winners were: “The Most Influential Man” (funniest video), “Voice of the 99” (most dramatic video), “American Show” (best original song), “Why Our Democracy Needs to be Changed” (best student video) and “Our Democracy is Not For Sale” (most creative video). All the winning videos can be viewed at www.democracyforall.com/winners.

“The Democracy For All Video Challenge was created to tap into the creative potential of Americans who support a constitutional amendment that allows for reasonable limits to be set on money in elections,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money. “Instead of hiring an advertising agency to produce spots promoting campaign finance reform, we decided to enable the true voice of Americans to be heard and give people across the country a chance to earn money for their efforts.”

“This contest, like the amendment itself, was all about restoring the true spirit of the First Amendment,” added Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way. “There’s so much creative energy in the movement to get big money out of politics, and we wanted to put the voices of everyday Americans front and center.”

The Democracy For All Amendment, currently being considered by Congress with 144 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, would overturn cases 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 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.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.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Photography is available at: https://goo.gl/JX79zB.

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‘Democracy Awakening’ Comes to the Nation’s Capital in April

At Mass Convergence on Washington, D.C., People Will Demand That Policymakers Address Barriers to Voting, Curb the Influence of Wealthy in Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C – Thousands of people will converge on Washington, D.C., this spring as part of an unprecedented movement to demand a democracy that works for all Americans, one in which everyone has an equal voice and elected officials are accountable to the people, not the wealthy.

The landmark three-day mobilization, called “Democracy Awakening” and scheduled for April 16-18, brings together two advocacy communities in one movement. Together, they will press for reform proposals focused both on restoring and expanding voting rights protections, and curbing the influence of wealthy interests and corporations on elections. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly agrees on the need for reforms in both arenas, but this will mark the first mass demonstration calling for change on both these fronts.

More than 100 groups representing a diverse array of issues are organizing Democracy Awakening. Lead organizations include the American Postal Workers Union, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Initiative, Every Voice Center, Food & Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace, NAACP, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Student Debt Crisis and U.S. PIRG. A list of all endorsing organizations is available here.

Democracy Awakening will feature a rally and march on Sunday, April 17, as well as targeted actions at the “Congress of Conscience” on Monday, April 18, that will call for voting rights protections, measures to curb the influence of money in politics and more. Democracy Awakening will include teach-ins and cultural events throughout the weekend.

For both money in politics and voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has eviscerated laws that once protected the voices and votes of everyday Americans. Congress has solutions in front of it, but has failed to pass them into law or even hold a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“That’s why it’s time for us to fight back on a scale that’s never been done before,” announces a video about Democracy Awakening created by Brave New Films.

City by city and state by state, a national movement is growing to ensure voters are fully heard. In communities throughout the country, voters have turned back efforts to impose discriminatory barriers to voting, won measures for public financing of local and state elections, and passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings.

Solutions being sought as part of Democracy Awakening include legislation to restore the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County, modernize voter registration, prevent deceptive practices that keep people from the ballot box and ensure equal access to voting for all.

Activists also will call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow elected representatives to set commonsense limits on money in elections. They will press for increased disclosure of the source of election spending and public financing of elections.

Democracy Awakening will follow a march and demonstrations organized by 99Rise and Avaaz as part of a separate event called “Democracy Spring.” The march will go from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in early April.

Why It Matters
Representatives of some of the organizations participating in Democracy Awakening explain why they are involved:

“We’re not talking about the nostalgic disenfranchisement of 1965. Once again, states with the worst histories of discrimination are pushing for new barriers to block the young, the poor, the elderly and minority voters from the ballot in 2016,” said Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP. “We must answer the call for action.”

“Americans’ frustration – and despair – is reflected in countless polls that show staggering majorities of our citizens believe the system is rigged to favor the rich and powerful,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “These views transcend party, region, race and gender. The American people know the system is not working for them, and that a broken system is blocking us from addressing our great challenges.”

“Protecting voting rights and pushing for money in politics reform are two sides of the same coin,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way. “When people face barriers to casting a ballot, and when wealthy special interests can overpower the voices and priorities of everyday Americans, our democracy simply isn’t working.”

“A handful of wealthy and corporate donors are hijacking our political system through mega-contributions and a systematic assault on voting rights that can only result in a breakdown in democracy and the belief by the average person that her or his vote doesn’t matter,” said Christopher Shelton, president of Communications Workers of America. “This spring, CWA members are ready to join the millions of others in this movement and to do what it takes to win back our democracy.”

‪”Americans across the country are demanding a democracy where everyone has an equal voice and our elected officials are held accountable to the voters,” said Marissa Brown, executive director of the Democracy Initiative. “Thousands of people will join together in Washington, D.C., for a Democracy Awakening – a call to conscience for our elected officials.”

“People are fed up with a political system that too often works for big donors at the expense of everyone else,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Every Voice Center. “And at the Democracy Awakening this spring, in Maine, in Seattle, and in cities and states across the country Americans are coming together to demand a democracy in which one’s influence isn’t determined by the size of their wallet.”

“As long as our government is controlled by corporate interests, we’ll never be able to protect our food, ban fracking, or prevent disasters like we’ve seen in Flint,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Our democracy is broken, and for the sake of our food, water, and climate, it’s time for us to fix it.”

“The Democracy Awakening mobilization will galvanize the emerging movement that’s challenging America to live up to its promise of government of, by, and for the people,” said Annie Leonard, executive director at Greenpeace USA. “That promise means politicians putting people first by supporting voting rights and rejecting the campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies which manipulate our political system.”

“Student Debt Crisis wholeheartedly believe that borrowers, students and young people are facing an uphill battle when it comes to higher education reform due to the influence of billionaires and corporations on our political system,” said Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis. “Until we get money out of politics and restore voting rights, our voices will not have the power that we, the people, deserve. It is our hope that once we get rid of the corporate stronghold on our democracy we will see reforms such as free college and some form of student loan forgiveness.”

“As Franciscans and people of faith, we're working to remove the road block of unchecked money in politics as issues such as immigration, care for creation, and gun safety are not moving on Capitol Hill,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network. “As we continue to advocate for these core issues, we must also work to alleviate the root of the problem in order to see real progress.”

“Voters want to be heard in our elections – they want a government that works for them instead of mega-donors,” said Dan Smith, democracy program director for U.S. PIRG. “As an independent voice for American consumers, U.S. PIRG has made voter empowerment a top priority. Democracy Awakening is a chance for us to push lawmakers for real election reforms.”

“Democracy Awakening is the American Postal Workers Union’s chance to become bigger than ourselves,” said Debby Szeredy, executive vice president of the APWU. “We are a union representing our members and all of America as we fight to provide a Postal Service that is prompt efficient, affordable, with decent living wage jobs and benefits that communities have valued for years. Democracy Awakening connects us to the political revolution that has become crucial.”

“Our democracy faces serious threats. Everyday Americans know our system is out of balance, and what’s worse, our constitutional right to free speech has been reduced to a whisper as a few wealthy special interests spend billions so their voices are heard over everyone else,” said Miles Rapport, president of Common Cause. “This spring, Common Cause’s 400,000 members join with Americans from all walks of life to lift our voices and demand change through a series of important actions during two weeks in April, highlighting the importance of voting rights and reducing money’s influence so together we create a 21st century democracy that works for every American.”

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Media Advisory: Congressional Champions and Entertainment Stars Celebrate Artists and Activists Working to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Winning video selected among entries submitted by Americans during nationwide video competition to be announced and used for national campaign to support Democracy For All amendment

WHAT: A panel of celebrity judges including Michael Moore, Norman Lear, Kathleen Turner and Dolores Huerta, selected one video from entries submitted by everyday Americans to raise awareness of big money in politics. The winning video will be announced and used to represent the voice of Americans in a national campaign to support the Democracy For All constitutional amendment currently being considered by Congress.

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, 12:15-1:15 p.m.

WHERE: National Press Club (Murrow room), 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045

WHO: U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Kathleen Turner, Academy Award-nominated actress
Jeff Haggin, president, Say No To Big Money
Marge Baker, executive vice president, People For the American Way
Winning video creators

AGENDA: Welcome (Baker)
Amendment/initiative update (Udall/Deutch)
Contest (Haggin)
Winner announcement/presentation (Turner)
Q&A

AMENDMENT: The Democracy For All Amendment, currently being considered by Congress with 144 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, would overturn cases such as Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy.

ABOUT: The Democracy For All Video Challenge (www.democracyforall.com) is a project of Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way. People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy. More information is available at www.PFAW.org. Say No To Big Money is a nonprofit corporation with the mission of supporting the ratification of the Democracy For All Amendment that will regulate campaign contributions. More information is available at www.SayNoToBigMoney.com.

CONTACT: Steve Honig, The Honig Company, LLC, 818-986-4300 / press@honigllc.com

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On Citizens United Anniversary, PFAW Calls on President Obama to Issue Executive Order on Secret Money in Politics

PFAW: Everyone from Justice Scalia to Leader Pelosi Understands the Essential Role of Disclosure

WASHINGTON – Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which paved the way for unlimited corporate political spending to influence elections. Also this week, The New York Times reported that President Obama is “seriously considering” an executive order requiring companies with federal contracts to disclose their political spending. People For the American Way (PFAW) Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“The anniversary of a decision that unleashed a torrent of secret money into our elections is the perfect moment to take a look at the solutions in front of us that would help repair our democracy.

“President Obama shouldn’t wait another day to take action. He should pick up his pen and issue an executive order on secret money, and allow Americans to see which corporations are trying to buy political influence.

“Even the conservative Supreme Court majority that issued the disastrous Citizens United decision emphasized the importance of disclosure. The Citizens United Court actually upheld a disclosure requirement, explaining that ‘transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions.’ Everyone from Justice Scalia to Leader Pelosi understands the essential role that disclosure plays in an effective campaign finance system. It’s a commonsense action that would be a significant step forward for transparency and accountability in our democracy.”

PFAW has been actively involved in the campaign for an executive order, collecting nearly 100,000 petition signatures in support of such an action. In December, PFAW joined ally organizations in delivering one million signatures to the White House urging the president to issue an executive order on secret money.

PFAW is also one of the leading organizations pushing for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United. To date, 16 states and more than 680 cities and towns have officially called for an amendment to get big money out of politics. President Obama, as well as all of the Democratic presidential candidates, have expressed their support for an amendment.

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Statement from Marge Baker on State of the Union Address

In his last State of the Union address tonight, President Obama said that we need "to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.” In response, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“Highlighting the problem of big money in politics in his final State of the Union address was not only the right thing to do, it's also completely in line with the beliefs of Americans. Voters are hungry for a democracy where the voices of everyday people aren't drowned out by an endless deluge of money from wealthy special interests.

“But the president can do more than highlight the problem. He can create real change with just the stroke of his pen, by issuing an executive order requiring companies with government contracts to disclose their political spending.

“Time is running out for the president to define his legacy on money in politics. Will he go down in history as a president who helped expose secret money in our democracy, or as one whose inspiring rhetoric wasn’t backed up by action?”

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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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Charles Koch To Support Candidates Who Support His “Right” to Buy Elections

In an interview released last week with Susan Peters of KAKE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Wichita, Kansas, Charles Koch shared his top factor in supporting 2016 candidates:

Koch said, “The number one thing I would look at in supporting anyone in politics: Are they for the first amendment? Are they for freedom of speech?”

“So, do you consider your donations freedom of speech?” [Peters] asked.

“Absolutely, they are,” he said.

That the number one criteria of a man whose network plans to spend hundreds of millions on next year’s elections is whether they are “for the First Amendment” – that is, a radical reinterpretation of the First Amendment to prohibit Americans from effectively addressing the corrosive effect of money on our democracy – speaks volumes about the way the power of those already on top is preserved and expanded in our country. Koch, one of the wealthiest people in the country, already holds unparalleled influence in politics through the extraordinary sums of money flooding our elections from the Koch-led network, Koch Industries, and the Kochs themselves. And now, Koch’s top priority for whether he will bankroll future candidates is, in effect, whether they support his ability to continue to spend unlimited sums of money to buy elections.

This exchange is Exhibit A on the extent to which our campaign finance system is utterly broken. With our lawmakers unable to set commonsense limits on money in elections in the wake of decisions like Citizens United, Charles Koch is free to pour unlimited amounts of cash into our democracy. And he’s free to make a condition of his financial support a commitment to perpetuating that broken system.

It’s no wonder that 85 percent of Americans think we need a complete overhaul of our country’s campaign finance system. Without it, a handful of billionaires can continue to set the agenda for all of us – even when it’s an agenda targeting the rights and interests of most Americans.

PFAW

Standing United Against Harmful Policy Riders

People For the American Way proudly stands with them and is an active member of the nearly 200-strong anti-riders coalition. PFAW is also among women's health advocates pushing back against riders. Please join us by signing our clean budget petition.
PFAW

North Carolina Nonprofit Exec Produces Animated Video to Raise Awareness About Big Money in Politics

Video Show How Easy it is for Big Money to Influence Politics and the Importance of Reversing Decisions like Citizens United

WASHINGTON – A group of diabolical animated villains is secretly gathering to use big money to influence politics in this week’s winning video in the Democracy For All Video Challenge, which encourages people to speak out in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of 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, “Voters, assemble!” was created by Bryan Warner – a nonprofit communications director from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina – and uses animation to depict a secret meeting between a group of villains who are plotting to influence politics by using big money. The video illustrates how easy it is for corporations and special interest groups to buy their way into Washington and influence policy in their favor.

This week’s winner was the final weekly winner in the competition. All of the videos submitted during the 14-weeks of the contest will now be judged by a panel that includes Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker; Norman Lear, legendary television producer and founder of People For the American Way; and Kathleen Turner, advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress; and Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist and cofounder of United Farm Workers. The grand prize winner, who will receive $25,000, will be announced Dec. 16. In addition, five best in category videos will be awarded $5,000 each.

“For the past several years, I've been involved in work around campaign finance reform and voting rights here in North Carolina,” said Warner. “I think the impact of big money is a serious threat to the integrity of American elections. It's great to see so many people participating with these videos and uniting in an effort to protect our democracy.”

The video can be viewed at http://democracyforall.com/entries/voters-assemble. 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.

“The use of animation in Bryan’s video to depict the impact of big money in politics and the need for a constitutional amendment was innovative and delivered the message loud and clear,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money which created the video challenge. “We are hoping these videos will prompt Americans to let their representatives know they support the Democracy For All amendment.”

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 142 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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Washington Comics Create Viral Video Featuring Ice Cream Icons Ben & Jerry to Raise Awareness About Big Money in Politics

Video Urges People to Take Action and Express Their Opinions about Reversing Decisions like Citizens United

WASHINGTON – What does it take for a video to go viral? Comedians Lee Camp and Negin Farsad have created a viral video about viral videos in an effort to educate Americans about what happens when big money mixes with politics. The video was this week’s winner in the Democracy For All Video Challenge, which encourages people to speak out in support of a constitutional amendment to get big money out of 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, created by comedians Lee Camp and Negin Farsad, pokes fun at what it takes for a video to go viral, showing everything from a cute kitten and baby to an exploding soda bottle, with guest appearances including ice cream icons Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (better known as Ben & Jerry) and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation. The underlying message is the importance of preserving our democracy and removing big money from politics.

All 14 of the weekly winning videos will be judged by a panel that includes Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker; Norman Lear, legendary television producer and founder of People For the American Way; and Kathleen Turner, advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress. The grand prize winner will be announced Dec. 16.

"Money in politics is one of the most crucial issues of our time,” said Camp. “Everything you and I care about comes back to money in politics; we must change this system before it's too late."

The video can be viewed at http://democracyforall.com/entries/its-viral-the-movement-to-overturn-citizens-united-swamps-the-internet/. 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.

“We felt the concept of creating a viral video about viral videos was very original,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money which created the video challenge. “Online videos have become a way for people to receive information and form opinions about important issues of the day, and we are hoping to embrace this to inform the American public about the importance of passing the Democracy For All amendment.”

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 140 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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Clean Elections Win in Connecticut Shows Power of Movement to Fight Big Money

Following an outcry from a range of local and national leaders, including PFAW president Michael Keegan, Connecticut legislators withdrew a plan yesterday that would have cut funding for the state’s clean elections law.

Connecticut’s landmark program is a model for the country, one that has allowed people to run for office and become elected officials even if they don’t have access to special interest money or wealthy backers. When the proposed attack on clean elections was announced, the pushback was swift. A cohort of young Connecticut lawmakers, many of whom are members of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, spoke out against the proposal in a letter. They highlighted the clean election program’s success in allowing young people to compete in the state’s elections “based on policy positions and ideas” rather than “who has access to the biggest donors.” PFAW members in Connecticut made calls to their state legislators and asked them to reject any plan to undermine clean elections. State groups like Common Cause Connecticut and ConnPIRG rallied against it, and former Gov. Jodi Rell, who signed the landmark reform into law, spoke out against attempts to “turn aside” the program “many of us worked so hard to put in place to prevent political corruption scandals.”

That the proposal was withdrawn after just three days is a win not only for the state of Connecticut, but for the national movement to fight big money in politics. From clean elections victories in Seattle and Maine earlier this month to yesterday’s win in Connecticut, it’s clear that policies to help lessen the influence of big money in politics are popular, valued, and people will fight for them.

PFAW

PFAW Statement on Sanders Plan to Fight Big Money in Politics

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders has released an agenda for addressing the influx of big money in our democracy. His plan outlines reform measures including a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, small donor public financing, and increased transparency in political spending. His agenda also includes measures to strengthen voting rights, such as expanding early voting and restoring the protections of the Voting Rights Act, which were gutted by the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision in 2013.

People For the American Way president Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“Bernie Sanders has been consistently speaking out about the problem of big money in politics throughout his campaign, and he should be commended for releasing a plan highlighting the solutions.

“Americans are of one mind on the issue of money in politics. Across the board, voters think Citizens United should be overturned and want to see elected leaders put policies in place to fix our broken campaign finance system. Sanders should be applauded for putting the issue front and center in his campaign.”

Sanders’ plan includes numerous policies outlined in the “Fighting Big Money” agenda, a comprehensive platform that People For the American Way and 12 other organizations released in July and have called on every candidate to endorse and prioritize.

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Young Elected Officials in Connecticut Push Back Against Proposed Attack on the State’s Clean Elections Law

PFAW Statement in Support of the Legislators Fighting to Protect Clean Elections

This week the Connecticut state legislature proposed a budget that would suspend the state’s clean election law, widely viewed as a model for public financing. In 2014, 74 percent of candidates participated in the state’s clean elections program.

A cohort of young Democratic legislators in Connecticut, several of whom are members of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, are pushing back against the proposal. In a letter, the legislators said the proposal would cause “irreparable damage” to Connecticut’s election process, which in the past has allowed “regular people (and especially young people) to compete based on policy positions and ideas, not who has access to the biggest donors.”

People For the American Way president Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“We stand with the legislators pushing back against the proposed attack on Connecticut’s model clean elections law. The law has helped people without access to big money from wealthy special interests to run for office and become elected leaders in the state.

“Across the board, Americans are calling for solutions to the big money takeover of our democracy, but this proposal does just the opposite. We support the efforts of the young elected officials fighting to protect clean elections in Connecticut.”

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Fed Up Americans Create Online Videos Calling to Overturn Citizens United and Get Big Money Out of Politics

Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Michael Moore, Television Legend Norman Lear, and Academy Award-Nominated Actress Kathleen Turner Join Judging Panel to Award $50,000 to Best Submissions

WASHINGTON – With the 2016 presidential election around the corner, the issue of money in politics is once again coming front and center as Americans express their concern over an election where spending could hit $10 billion. Two advocacy organizations, Say No To Big Money and People For the American Way, have partnered to encourage Americans to produce public service announcements expressing their discontent about the role of big money in politics and calling for an amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United.

The Democracy For All Video Challenge was created to tap into the creative potential of Americans who support a constitutional amendment that allows for reasonable limits to be set on money in elections. A panel of judges awards $1,000 to the best video submitted every week for 14 weeks. Then, from the field of all contest entries, five best in category videos will be awarded $5,000 each (dramatic, creative, student, funniest, original song), with $25,000 being awarded to the best overall video. The contest started August 12 and aspiring producers can enter the video challenge by submitting a 30-90 second video before Dec. 2. Full details are available at www.DemocracyForAll.com/contest.

“Instead of hiring an advertising agency to produce spots promoting campaign finance reform, we decided to enable the true voice of Americans to be heard and give people across the country a chance to earn money for their efforts,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money.

Judging the final videos will be Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker; Norman Lear, legendary television producer and founder of People For the American Way; Kathleen Turner, advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress; Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist and cofounder of United Farm Workers; Kelly Nyks, award-winning documentary filmmaker; Stacey Reiss, Emmy Award-winning television news producer; and Ginna Green, managing director for money in politics and fair courts at nonprofit communications firm ReThink Media.

“There’s nothing better than storytelling for entertaining and informing at the same time,” said Lear. “You don’t need access to a whole production studio today – just a camera and computer. I absolutely love the creativity we’re getting from people from all walks of life. They’re making the case for overturning Citizens United in ways I would never have dreamed of.”

The Democracy For All Amendment, currently being considered by Congress with 140 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, would overturn cases 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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Los Angeles Filmmaker Spoofs “Most Interesting Man” Commercials in Online Video to Raise Awareness About Big Money in Politics

Video Encourages People to Take Action and Contact Their Local Representatives in Support of Reversing Decisions like Citizens United

WASHINGTON – The “Most Interesting Man” may drink Dos Equis, but the “Most Influential Man” aims to show Americans what happens when big money mixes with politics. An independent filmmaker in Los Angeles was this week’s winner in the Democracy For All Video Challenge, which encourages people to speak out 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, created by Otto Penzato, spoofs the popular “Most Interesting Man” commercials for Dos Equis beer by showing the “Most Influential Man” who controls politics through money. The video aims to show Americans how big money influences politics and threatens democracy.

“As I looked at all the big problems facing this country – climate change, income inequality, environmental protection, banking regulation and on and on – I saw that the obstacle to solving these problems was structural; who are our decision makers listening to,” said Penzato. “The singular obstacle is the issue of big money in politics.”

The video can be viewed at http://democracyforall.com/entries/the-most-influential-man-in-america_02. 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.

 “This video is a great example of using pop culture to illustrate an important point,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money which created the video challenge. “Otto has created an impactful video that is both entertaining and also conveys a very serious message that will hopefully encourage others to take action.”

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 140 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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Koch Communications Officer Delivers Spin to St. Anselm’s College, Activists Call Out #KochProblem

koch visibility event

It’s not just secret money and front groups for the Koch Brothers this election season. Sometimes, the Kochs are up front in their attempts to sell their toxic agenda — like when they decide to send Koch Industries Chief Communication and Marketing Officer, Steve Lombardo, to St. Anselm’s Institute of Politics to pitch a softer side of Koch.

A group of about 10 activists from People For the American Way and Granite State Progress gathered Tuesday outside the Institute of Politics to hold signs that read “#KOCH PROBLEM” and “PR Stunt” — among other messages.

The event was brazenly titled, “Beyond the Political Spin: How Koch is is Driving Freedom, Fairness and Prosperity."

The Kochs — no strangers to attempting to buy support at college campuses through stipulations about hiring and coursework — are planning on spending up to $900 million in this year’s election cycle through their secretive network of organizations.

When asked if the Kochs will acknowledge that the candidates they back are beholden to them, Lombardo failed to explain a difference between other forms of “crony capitalism” the Kochs like to decry and the political work done by the Koch network.

Question: “In a recent interview with the Wichita Eagle, Charles Koch claimed that politicians are ‘beholden to corporations and cronies who get them re-elected’ and deemed this ‘welfare for the wealthy.’ The Koch network has poured millions of dollars into our political system—do the Kochs agree that the candidates they back are beholden to them?”

Lombardo: “Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m going to answer it the way Charles has recently answered that. And that is – beholden is the wrong word. Charles is frustrated right now, to be honest with you, he’s very frustrated that a lot of the candidates that the network that he’s a part of, along with a lot of other donors, hundreds of donors, thousands…have not done a lot of things that they said they were going to do, okay. And he’s quite frankly very frustrated and we have not at this point in time, supporting any presidential candidate. And Mr. Koch believes- is worried right now that none of them are going to do what they say they’re going to do.  So the folks that we supported in 2014 frankly a lot of them have not lived up to the things that I’ve been talking about in terms of fighting corporate welfare, in terms of supporting criminal justice reform among other things. Beholden is wrong. We all, everybody who votes for someone or contributes money to them, contributes $5 — you’re hoping that they’re gonna do what they said they were gonna do. Now if you call that beholden you can call that beholden, but to me, it’s I give $5 to a candidate because I think — they said they were gonna do something, and I go ‘wow, I agree with that, I want them to do that, I’m giving them $5.’ Now you can call that beholden, or $500 million or whatever it might be…I don’t think it’s the same way but we are expecting them to do the things they say they were gonna do, and frankly a lot of them aren’t.”

The Kochs clearly expect a lot in return for the amount they’re spending on politics — so yes, the candidates that they back are beholden to them, and much more so than they would be to any small donor.  Downplaying their own effectiveness doesn’t change the fact that they are blatantly attempting to buy influence, with their network expected to spend as much as, or more than, either political party.

PFAW

Psychology Student from Brooklyn Uses Online Video to Reason with Americans About the Dangers of Big Money in Politics

Video Claims More People Believe in Witchcraft than Support the Citizens United Decision

WASHINGTON – A 21-year-old psychology student from Brooklyn was this week’s winner in the Democracy For All Video Challenge, which encourages people to speak out 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, created by Kyu Nakama, uses paper models to explain the need for a constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to set reasonable limits on money in elections.

“Video gives people a voice and can be used as a catalyst for change and making the world we live in a better place, one story at a time,” said Nakama. “This contest is a great way to tell the story of the growing distance between democracy and the people; hopefully it will help encourage people to voice their own opinions and understand that change is always possible.” 

The video can be viewed at http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/democracy-for-all-3. 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.

“College students have always been among the most vocal groups, speaking out for the causes in which they believe and Kyu’s video is a great example of that passion,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No To Big Money which created the video challenge. “This video very simply communicates the problem, why it is important and what needs to be done to make our democracy stronger.”

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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Americans Across the Nation Vote to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Maine and Seattle Voters Approve Reform Measures

WASHINGTON – Yesterday voters in Maine and Seattle approved reform measures aimed at reducing the influence of big money in elections. In Maine, voters passed a ballot initiative to strengthen the state’s clean elections system, increase transparency in political spending, and increase penalties for violations of campaign finance laws. Seattle voters passed an initiative that, among other measures, implements a first-in-the-country “democracy vouchers” system allowing voters to donate money to any participating candidate, aimed at giving candidates an incentive to put more focus on everyday voters and less focus on wealthy donors.

“We already knew that Americans care deeply about getting big money out of elections, and yesterday’s victories showed that voters are taking it upon themselves to make real progress in our cities and states,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way. “Voters are frustrated with the big money takeover of our democracy, and they’re channeling that frustration into action. The victories yesterday in Maine and Seattle should remind people across the country that change is indeed possible on money in politics.”

In recent weeks, PFAW hasmobilized our activists in Maine and Seattle to engage in this fight, encouraging them to both vote themselves and to help turn others out to the polls.

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