The People Power Newsletter - December 2014

We are excited to share that our DVDs are being officially launched today!  Save 40% off list price on the Pay 2 Play DVD by using the promo code 'getmoneyout' at our DVD distributor's checkout (offer good through 12/31/14).

We're also excited to share that we are starting a new newsletter called The People Power Newsletter for those interested in staying in touch about Getting Money Out of Politics.  We made the film to be a tool for change.  We'd love to have you join us on the journey.



Welcome to the first edition of The People Power Newsletter, a monthly compendium of articles about what’s happening across the country to Get Money Out, based on the Fix with Six solutions identified in Pay 2 Play.  We hope that you feel as inspired and excited by both the positive direction and successes the movement is having. We don’t have blinders on - we will keep you posted on setbacks but…  This election we saw one clear thing – everywhere getting money out was voted upon – it won!



Two Raging Grannies Walk Hundreds of Miles to Get Money Out of Politics

In Arizona, Sally-Alice Thompson walked from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Get the MOP (Money Out of Politics), celebrating her 92nd birthday on the journey.  At the same time on the other side of the country, 81 year old Rhana Bazzini began her 400 mile walk from Sarasota to Tallahassee saying, “There seems to be general agreement that money has corrupted our system.”  Rhana will hold a press conference at the end of her journey with Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig (MayDay PAC), Former Green Party Presidential Candidate David Cobb (Move To Amend), John Bonifaz (Free Speech for People) and Peter Butzin (Common Cause) on December 3rd. 

Note: These walks were inspired by Granny D who, at the age of 89, spent over a year crossing the entire US for campaign finance reform in 1999.  Earlier this year two other activist groups NH Rebellion in New Hampshire and 99Rise in California walked to Get Money Out.

US Senator Takes on Citizens United

US Senator Jon Tester from Montana is renewing the call for Congress to pass his proposed Constitutional Amendment overturning the U.S Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.  In an 11/7 address on campaign finance at Harvard Law School, sponsored by Free Speech For Free People, Tester warned: “If we don’t move quickly and forcefully to get big money out of our elections, it will give the wealthy a vice grip on our government.  It will drown out the voices of regular folks.  And it will embolden those with the deepest pockets to take further action to keep shaping the electorate how they see fit.  We need action, and we need it now.”

Note: Montana is one of two states (Colorado being the other) that had a ballot initiative where every voter got to speak up about how they felt about Citizens United.  Both states weighed in with an overwhelming YES (over 70%) to Overturn Citizens United.  It’s great to see a Senator listening to his constituents and proposing legislation that is in line with their desires.

Victory in Arkansas – Corporate Contributions to Candidates Banned

In Walmart’s backyard, Freshman State Representative Warwick Sabin succeeds in pushing for the passage (52-47%) of Issue 3 – an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that bans corporate contributions to candidates, bans all gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, and extends the “cooling off period” that a former lawmaker must wait before becoming a lobbyist from one to two years.  Every Voice has a great video of the Congressman explaining how it happened.

Maryland County Looks to Matching Funds, Publicly Financed Candidate Wins Statewide

On 11/17, Progressive Maryland hosted a screening of Pay 2 Play along with a discussion with Congressman John Sarbanes, Delegate Eric Luedtke, Delegate Heather Mizeur, and Montgomery County Councilmember Phil Andrews about Maryland’s fair election successes and plans to expand the program.  Councilmember Andrews stated: “Our current system incentivizes the wrong people. Publicly financing elections serves to enhance voter engagement and address the current problems with big money in politics.”

Governor-elect Larry Hogan became the first publicly financed gubernatorial candidate to win, despite being outspent by over $15 million dollars.  Montgomery County became the first county in Maryland to take advantage of a state law to create a small donor matching system for council and executive elections.  

Bonus: Watch this video of Rep. Sarbanes explaining the Government By the People Act (HR 20), with which he hopes to push this public financing effort to the national level.

Sunshine in Florida’s Capital

With the help of Represent.Us, Tallahassee won big on election night, becoming the first municipality to pass a version of the American Anti-Corruption Act in the United States, by a wide 67% margin. The Act will establish an independent ethics commission, enact strict new ethics laws, reduce maximum contributions to $250, and institute a tax rebate of up to $25 for contributions to local candidates. Citizens for Ethics Reform, a bi-partisan coalition of community leaders in Tallahassee, also endorsed the measure. Josh Silver, Director of Represent.Us stated: “This is a real bright spot in a field that hasn’t had many of them in the last two decades.”   Learn more about Tallahassee’s Anti-Corruption movement and read the charter amendment.

Florida's Redistricting Remains Elusive But Making Progress

In Florida, a nonpartisan, open redistricting process remains elusive after internal emails show that political consultants created gerrymandered maps and submitted them through third parties in an apparent effort to circumvent voter limits.  In 2010, Floridians voted to prevent the legislature from drawing districts to benefit incumbents or parties.  These emails have been used in one lawsuit overturning Florida’s Congressional districts and another on the Senate districts is ongoing.  In the emails, the consultants describe their own efforts to keep this plan unnoticed as “almost paranoid,” including limiting what they put in writing.

Note: For more on gerrymandering play the Redistricting Game.  Read this article that looks at the convoluted gerrymandering history of Texas but also looks at the recent reforms from other states. Or for the math fans - look at this Duke University study which mathematically confirms gerrymandering heavily impacted North Carolina Congressional elections. 

Finally, Some Good News from the Courts on Disclosure

31% of all independent, trackable spending in the 2014 midterms came from undisclosed sources, and hundreds of millions more that did not have to be reported, with groups on all sides of the political spectrum developing ever more innovative ways to avoid disclosure.  However, two recent court cases upheld and even expanded the public’s right to know.  In Mississippi, an appeals court reversed a previous ruling striking down the state’s law requiring disclosures of contributions in ballot campaigns. In Washington D.C. a district court held, for the second time, that the FEC has misinterpreted Congress’ intent by narrowing disclosure laws, potentially opening the door for the FEC to limit dark money.

Mainstream Media Finally Talks Compulsory Voting

After the dismal turnout in this year’s mid-term election (36.4%) CNN ran a series of opinions after asking the question: Should Americans be forced to vote?  and The Washington Post ran an opinion piece called A case for compulsory voting.  It seems that Americans may just be ready for what some think is a radical idea.  But if people want to follow the Elizabeth Warren Field Guide, then maybe it really is time for some bold ideas.

Activist Comics:  Free Airtime for Politicians

With mid-term election spending topping out at an insane $4 billion, it is worth considering how we could better spend the money and find a plan to allow free airtime for politicians, so that billions of dollars does not get spent on those negative campaign ads we all hate.  The activist comic in The Huffington Post sheds some light on this idea.

Allies in Unusual Places
This editorial published by the National Catholic Reporter should show you that we have allies in all places: A grassroots campaign is needed for our imperiled democracy.

We all must remember, Getting Money Out is a non-partisan issue.  Everyone is fed up!

To round up the newsletter each month, we’ll feature an opportunity to speak out in an important battle in the fight to Get Money Out, typically with a quick phone call or email.  This month, we’re targeting Senator Mitch McConnell’s attempt to add a policy rider to the appropriations omnibus bill, which would eliminate limits on coordinating between candidates and party committees.  Parties and candidates currently can coordinate a limited amount of funds determined by formulas based on the number of voters.  McConnell’s proposal would hold that spending 'not controlled by, or made at the direction of' does not apply to those limits, effectively giving candidates the right to provide input on any campaign spending by the party and opening the door for large indirect contributions to candidates through parties, which are harder for the public to trace. 

There are two actions available here:

·        Lookup your Senator through this website to call or email them your opposition to this proposal, particularly during budget negotiations

·        Contact Senator McConnell at (202) 224-2541, or email him and say the same

Then, email or tweet us to let us know you did it!


With the holidays around the corner, we also have some fun merchandise (if you like that sort of thing), including a dvd/stamp money out combo from Stamp Stampede, which was started by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's.

And if you’re interested in getting involved in the movement please fill out the volunteer information on our web site or email us and we will connect you with appropriate opportunities.  

We have a lot of screenings happening this month and we are working with our partners for some exciting actions around the 5th Anniversary of the Citizens United decision on January 21, 2015.

In Solidarity,

The Pay 2 Play Team





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