Government By the People

Student Debt Crisis Advocate Wins $1,000 Cash in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Engaging Video Focused on Student Loan Debt Is Third Weekly Prize Winner in Democracy for All Video Contest

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the third 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 winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge provides an explanation of the current problems surrounding student loan debt and outlines how changing campaign finance regulations could provide students with much-needed relief.  The winning video was submitted by Natalia Abrams, Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis in Sherman Oaks, California.

Click here to see the video: http://www.democracyforall.com/entries/getmoneyout-of-politics-and-help-student-loan-borrowers-2/

Previously, a spoken-word rap tying corruption in the chemical industry to lobbying and campaign contributions and a student parody video titled ‘Democramole’ won the first two weekly prizes.

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.

“Natalia’s video highlights how our country’s broken campaign finance system has far-ranging repercussions – for student loan debt and across the policy spectrum,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money.  “We’re excited to see the creative and diverse range of video submissions and the broad support for the Democracy for All Amendment.”

“We entered the contest because we feel strongly that we need to get money out of politics in order to fix the $1.3 trillion student debt crisis,” said Natalia Abrams, Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis. “Removing the powerful grip of billionaires and corporations on our political system is the only way we can move on to helping 43 million struggling borrowers.”

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 Alec Saslow at Alec@FitzGibbonmedia.com or 720-319-4948.

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Student Video Awarded $1,000 Prize in Contest to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Parody Video from 9th Grader Marks Second Weekly
Prize Winner in Democracy for All Video Contest

Today Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way announced the second 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 winner of the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge is a parody video titled ‘Democramole’ submitted by 9th grade student Simon Lundquist from Falls Church, Virginia.  The video highlights the inequity in our country’s campaign finance system by telling the fictitious story of two brothers, one of whom is working to control the price of guacamole through campaign contributions to the disadvantage of the other.

Click here to see ‘Democramole’: http://democracyforall.com/entries/democramole/

Last week, a spoken-word rap tying corruption in the chemical industry to lobbying and campaign contributions that hijack the political system from everyday Americans won the first weekly, 1,000 prize.

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.

“Simon’s video boils down our broken and complex campaign finance system in a way that is creative, fun and accessible,” said Jeff Haggin, president of Say No to Big Money.  “Humor and creativity are an important part of this contest - and vital parts of making sure legislators know the public is ready for the Democracy for All Amendment.”

“The videos in this contest have the capability to influence the future of our democracy and give the next generation's activists, innovators, and dreamers a chance to get their voices heard,” added contest winner, Simon Lundquist, who hopes to make videos professionally in the future.

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 Drew Courtney at media@pfaw.org.

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PFAW Statement on Clinton Plan To Address Money in Politics

Today, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled her agenda for taking on the corrosive effects of money in our democracy. People For the American Way president Michael Keegan issued the following statement.

"Hillary Clinton should be applauded for putting out a comprehensive plan to address the disastrous effects of money in our elections. This is the kind of leadership we need to take on this challenge, and this is the kind of plan that Americans are demanding. I look forward to seeing Secretary Clinton talking with voters about her agenda for reforming our elections as a centerpiece of her campaign.

"All across the political spectrum, Americans are sick and tired of a system that serves the needs of big donors instead of ordinary people. 85 percent of Americans believe we need major reforms in the way money impacts our elections. Republicans, Democrats and independents support taking strong action, including amending the Constitution to overturn cases like Citizens United. And they want judges who will put the rights of individual Americans over the interests of corporations and special interests. Candidates on both sides of the aisle would be wise to follow her lead and speak out for a broad range of solutions that can put voters back in charge of our democracy. “

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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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2016 Candidates and the Fight to Get Big Money Out of Politics

There’s no denying it: the destruction of our campaign finance laws has created an out of control system that poses a serious threat to our democracy. The announcement that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has raised over $114 million, along with the fact that the Koch brothers plan to spend almost $900 million, feeds into the fears of many that the U.S. is turning into an oligarchy, where the views of wealthy donors are the only ones that matter. A huge majority of Americans think the campaign finance system needs reform, and this is an issue that presidential candidates can’t ignore.

This week, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, an outspoken opponent of big money in politics, pledged to introduce legislation at the start of the next session that would provide public financing for elections. Hillary Clinton has also stated her support for small-donor public financing. A bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) attempted to level the playing field by providing voters with $25 to spend on elections and to match small individual donations to a candidate  6 to 1 with public money, which would turn into a 9 to 1 match for candidates that rejected large donations altogether.

In addition, both Sanders and Clinton have expressed their support for a constitutional amendment that would overturn decisions like Citizens United, as has Sen. Lindsey Graham.  These two solutions, public financing of elections and an amendment to get big money out of politics, are both highlighted as measures needed to fix the broken campaign finance system in “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Reform Agenda,” released by PFAW and other campaign finance reform proponents.  As the agenda makes clear, for lasting change we have to move beyond “individual statements or even individual solutions” toward a comprehensive set of policy solutions.

Three out of four Americans are in support of a constitutional amendment, and over 5 million people have signed a petition in favor of it. Many other political leaders at the state and local level from both major parties want to put an end to the post-Citizens United big donor arms race.

 As Sen. Sanders has pointed out:

The need for real campaign finance reform is not a progressive issue. It is not a conservative issue. It is an American issue.

PFAW

Scott Walker's Environmental Woes

At a recent campaign stop, Scott Walker was greeted by two young people who were very excited to see him – just not in the sense he would have hoped. Two activists from 350 Action tricked Governor Walker into holding up a fake check displaying his reliance on the Koch brothers.

When interviewed by reporters, one of the activists, Elaine Colligan, explained that her inspiration stemmed from Walker’s lack of climate change prevention policies. “Scott Walker is the worst on climate change,” she said, comparing him to the other 2016 presidential candidates. Colligan’s complaints are not unfounded, since being elected as governor of Wisconsin, Walker has demonstrated his preference for the fossil fuel industry over efforts to prevent climate change.

To list only a few of Walker’s policies that have led to his current reputation: he signed the no climate tax pledge, prepared a lawsuit against the federal government because of EPA regulations, proposed to cut $8.1 million from a renewable energy research center, and advocated for increased railways carrying frac sand. It is no surprise Walker is being targeted by environmental advocacy organizations like 350 Action.

At the campaign stop, another attendee joined in, saying: “Scott Walker will do anything to get elected! Because that’s what politicians do!” While this comment is particularly pessimistic, it stems from a frustration many Americans feel with our current campaign system. When a man like Scott Walker, who is receiving millions from undisclosed and unregulated donors, is more influenced by those donors than everyday Americans like Elaine Colligan, something is obviously wrong with the system. But there has been recent action calling for reform of this system, including a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United. Candidates need to be responsive to their constituents on issues like climate change, rather than to the wealthy special interests that can afford to pour money into our elections.

PFAW

Paranoia-Rama: Obama's Ban On Dogs, Gays Cause Earthquakes And 'Socialist' Medicare Destroyed America

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

This week, Americans marked the 50th anniversary of the death of freedom and the introduction of communism with the 1965 legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid. And as if things weren’t already bad enough for America, now we are witnessing a looming ban on dogs and the threat of gay-marriage-induced earthquakes.

5) Obama’s Islamist Dog Ban

Talk radio conspiracy theorist Michael Savage thinks that President Obama has a lot in store for the last year and a half of his presidency, such as murdering his critics,seeking a third term and “ destroying us entirely.”

However, no scheme is as serious as the one Savage exposed on his Monday show, when he suggested that Obama’s policies may lead to a ban on dogs.

Accusing the president of “bringing in 100,000” Muslims to the U.S. every month, Savage warned that the Islamists who will soon run the country may “ban dogs.”

Meanwhile, a fake conservative news site has already sparked outrage after publishing a story alleging that Dearborn, Michigan, banned alcohol as part of an effort “to turn Dearborn into an Islamic State.”

4) Confederate Flag Shielding Planned Parenthood Phony Scandal

Sarah Palin appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” this week to promote the myths that Planned Parenthood isprofiting off organ harvesting and targeting minority women to have abortions, alleging that people who care about the Confederate flag on public land don’t care that the women’s health organization is using black leaders like President Obama to “deceive” women into believing that they should have abortions.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate offered up this characteristically lucid explanation: “This is kind of symbolic of our political correctness absurdity and the absurdity of some persons’ priorities when they are concerned more about a symbol that had representative the negative many years ago compared to today. Thousands and thousands of babies, obviously, we’ve seen in the news over and over with Planned Parenthood, being butchered and having their baby parts sold, people in some parts are paying a whole lot more attention to the flag controversy than they are about what Planned Parenthood their barbaric practices are.”

3) Gay Pride Marches Cause Earthquakes

Forget what you learned in science class! Thanks to John McTernan of USA Prophecy, we now know the true sources of earthquakes and hurricanes.

“There has been tremendous disasters hitting America at the very same time that America is turning from God,” McTernan explained. “On gay pride day, there have been huge earthquakes, I’m talking about on the very day; Supreme Court decisions, pro-abortion, and that hurricanes slamming in, droughts and things like that. And I believe it’s God warning America to stop the course, actually repent and it will be the church to do this.”

Sadly, McTernan told “Pray In Jesus Name” host Gordon Klingenschmitt that the U.S. has “ crossed the line of no return with legalizing homosexual marriage ,” something he said has not been done since “the time of Noah.”

“There’s not too much time left for America,” he said, adding that Christians will now face persecution by liberals who “hate us as much as the Nazis hated the Jews and they’re acting on it now” and “want to destroy us.”

2) Gays Cause Child Abuse

Klingenschmitt, who also serves as a Colorado Republican state representative, not only wants his viewers to know that gay pride demonstrations cause earthquakes, but also that gay people are bent on sexually abusing children.

Addressing the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to end its ban on gay members over the age of 18 (the group already lifted its prohibition on gay minors), Klingenschmitt claimed that parents must get their kids out of the BSA because openly gay scoutmasters will molest their children on camping trips .

Apparently, his remarks aren’t sitting well with fellow members of the Colorado state House, with even a Republican legislative leader denouncing his “hurtful” and “inflammatory rhetoric.”

1) Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare!

As Medicare turns 50 this week, the program enjoys widespread popularity, even among members of the Tea Party .

But it almost wasn’t so. Back in the 1960s, Medicare proposals came under fierce attacks from conservatives, including future President Ronald Reagan , who said that the program would lead to the end of freedom as a tyrannical, socialist government dominated the country. Sound familiar?

Just listen to Reagan’s 1961 remarks, complete with fake quotes and baseless speculation about “socialized medicine,” to see how the Right has stuck to a familiar playbook even after all these years:

Conservatives, As Well As Liberals, Can't Stand Big Money in Politics

 The unpopularity of our post-Citizens United campaign finance system knows no partisan bounds. As wealthy donors have continued to pump larger and larger amounts of money into our elections, a vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, have decided that the system needs to be changed. Three-quarters of self-identified Republicans want more disclosure by outside spending groups, and only 12 percent of Republicans believe that the new campaign finance laws have made the process of nominating presidential candidates better.

 While many in Washington treat this as a partisan issue, at the local and state levels, Republican officials have joined the fight to get money out of politics.  Resolutions urging Congress to adopt an amendment that would set limits on campaign expenditures passed in statehouses with bipartisan support, and 159 Republican officials mostly at the state level have stated their opposition to the Citizens United decision. Now, conservative grassroots activists are starting to turn their attention to this issue.  

 Last Friday, conservatives from organizations such as the Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute met at a forum titled “Finding Common Ground on Money-In-Politics in Washington,” where they explored ways to improve the campaign finance system that could appeal to Americans on both sides of the aisle. Some ideas floated were to reform the makeup of the gridlocked Federal Election Commission, to better enforce bans on foreign contributions to elections, and to incentivize small donations through tax credits.

 

“To leave the field void, to say no one on the right is talking about money in politics, I think is a problem,” said John Pudner, a GOP strategist and executive director of Take Back Our Republic, an organization that promotes campaign finance reform from a conservative perspective.

 

 Public officials from both major parties have spoken out in favor of campaign finance reform, including Democratic Senator Todd Udall, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Even former Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has expressed her frustration with the “absurd” amount of money in our political system. With the movement to get money out of politics enjoying bipartisan support, it’s only a matter of time until this passion turns into real reform at the legislative level.

 

PFAW

Jeb Bush, Of All People, Says He Wants Lobbying Reform

On Monday, July 20th Jeb Bush announced that he wants to curb the influence of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. by setting a six-year moratorium on former members of Congress registering as lobbyists.  Bush said, ““We need to help politicians rediscover life outside of Washington… which — who knows? — might even be a pleasant surprise for them.” His comedic interjection is an indication of the stance he has decided to take on this issue, posing as a Beltway outsider who can see, and wants to reform, Washington’s corruption.

But Bush is anything but a political outsider. His father and brother spent a combined 20 years in the White House and he was Florida’s governor for eight years, after which he became a political consultant. Neither is he rejecting the money that lobbyists are currently collecting on his behalf: he has eight lobbyists working together to raise more than $228,000 for his campaign. That’s on top of his efforts to skirt campaign finance rules by spending months raising millions of dollars for a superPAC that purports not to coordinate with his own presidential campaign. Bush is the ultimate establishment candidate, regardless of whether or not he has spent time on the Hill.

And while this specific proposal is well and good, it’s also glaringly insufficient. The reforms Bush supports would not stop much of the lobbying that does occur in Washington. The six-year ban would only apply to registered lobbyists, a designation easily avoided by not engaging in specific activities or spending less than 20 percent of one’s time actually lobbying. There are simply too many loopholes Bush’s plan would not cover for real reform to occur.

Jeb Bush made this announcement in an effort to capture some of the grassroots anger at the role of money in politics. But, hopefully it will also ignite some real debate and raise public awareness of the reforms we would need to make a meaningful difference.

PFAW

Yet Another Poll Shows Americans’ Frustration With Big Campaign Spending

 As the primaries for the 2016 elections get closer, we can expect to see the effects of big money in politics – the new normal after the 2010 Citizens United decision – in full force. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has raised $114 million through both his campaign and Right to Rise, a super PAC backing him. With the Koch brothers alone already pledging to raise $889 million through their network of wealthy donors, it’s likely that this election’s expenditures will well exceed the over $1 billion spent in the 2012 federal elections. As a result, many Americans are fed up with this new campaign finance system.

 A Monmouth University survey released yesterday revealed that only 10 percent of Americans say that the influx of campaign spending post Citizens United has made the presidential nominating process better. Further, 42 percent expressed concern that the new campaign finance landscape makes it more likely that an unqualified or unserious candidate would be able to stay in the race longer.

 These statistics are hardly surprising. A New York Times poll showed that 85 percent of Americans think that the campaign finance system needs either “fundamental changes” or to be “completely rebuil[t].” In addition, three out of four Americans support a constitutional amendment that would limit campaign spending, and 5 million have signed a petition in favor of such an amendment. All around the country, Americans are organizing to let their legislators know that they’re tired of big money’s undue influence in their elections.

 “The public is starting to worry that the Wild West nature of campaign finance is damaging the way we choose presidential candidates,” said Patrick Murray, the polling institute’s director. 

 

 With the public standing strong against letting the wealthy few buy their elections, a national conversation about the harmful effects of Citizens United is taking place, blazing a trail for real reform.

PFAW

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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Activist Behind Planned Parenthood Smear Makes Up Fake Quote To Claim RBG Wants To 'Exterminate' People

Troy Newman, one of the anti-choice activists behind a new set of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, claimed in a radio interview yesterday that the women’s health organization was “founded on a eugenicist philosophy” and that its founder was “embedded with the Nazis,” claims that he backed up with a fake quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the need to “exterminate” populations she doesn’t like.

Iowa-based talk radio host Steve Deace was telling Newman about a column he recently wrote in the Washington Times arguing that if state governments are taking down the Confederate flag, the U.S. should also “purge” the “viciously racist” Planned Parenthood.

“Look, Planned Parenthood was founded on a eugenicist philosophy,” Newman responded, “in other words, ‘exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of,’ which is a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sitting Supreme Court justice. That’s what abortion is all about.”

He added that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was “embedded with the Nazis,” adding, “That’s not rhetoric, folks, look it up, it’s absolutely true.”

We followed Newman’s advice and looked it up, finding (unsurprisingly) that Justice Ginsburg has never expressed the desire to “exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of.”

There is also plenty of information available debunking Newman’s claims about Sanger. While Sanger did back some repugnant but then-fashionable eugenics principles such as the sterilization of people with hereditary diseases (which Planned Parenthood now publicly rejects), she was not “embedded with the Nazis,” nor did she support racial eugenics. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr., praised Sanger in accepting an award named after her from Planned Parenthood.

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."

 

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