The People Power Newsletter - April 2015

This has been an exciting month in the effort to Get Money Out!  Not only has our campaign to encourage President Obama to require disclosure of political spending by federal contractors gotten off to a rousing start, but we’ve seen major successes across the country, including a surprise Supreme Court ruling.  Meanwhile, presidential candidates of both parties have questioned the current system and proposed reforms. 

Executive Order: Call to Action

Since we kicked off our campaign to require contractors to disclose political spending, we have seen support build from every corner - over 600,000 petitions, 6,000 phone calls to the White House in one day and a letter from US Senators calling on Obama to sign the order.  The White House is said to be considering the executive order – but that’s been the case since May 2011!  We’ve got some major momentum and need to put pressure on them to follow through.  Here’s how you can help.

Find your Senator to set up a meeting or call your to tell them why you think it’s important and why they should be a leader on the issue. 

Write a letter to the editor (this web site simplifies the process greatly!)

Tweet us about the interactions @Pay2PlayTV

WE THE PEOPLE Constitutional Amendment Introduced

On April 29, Rep Rick Nolan of Minnesota introduced a proposal to amend the US Constitution by clarifying that only human beings, not legal entities like corporations, are entitled to the protections of the Constitution, and stating that political campaign spending is not protected by the first amendment.  This would hopefully undo decades of Supreme Court precedent limiting Congress and state legislatures’ ability to restrain political spending culminating in recent decisions like Citizens United.  Our partner group Move To Amend spearheaded this campaign.

Gyrocopter Lands on Capitol Lawn Spreading Message of Democracy

In a great sign of civil disobedience and creativity, a man flew from Florida to land on the U.S. Capitol Lawn with letters addressed to each Congressmember calling for campaign finance reform.  While the media reaction was mixed, they did end up talking about campaign finance reform, including a fun Daily Show segment.  See why he did it, explained before it happened

Supreme Court: States May Restrain Judicial Candidates from Personally Soliciting Campaign Funds

In a surprise decision, the Supreme Court held that the appearance of impartiality in the courts is important enough to allow greater restrictions on the speech of candidates for judicial positions. While this decision only explicitly applies to the law considered (a ban the candidate personally asking for money), it does open the door to a range of campaign finance restrictions for judicial elections that have previously been overturned for political elections.

Gizmodo Explores How Technology Makes Voting Easier & Calls for Mandatory Voting

Good overview on why we should have mandatory voting; also discusses the technology that is available to make voting easier, whether or not it’s mandatory.

Congressmembers Propose Federal Redistricting Law Requiring Independent Commissions

Introduced with 19 co-sponsor, the bill would require each state create independent, multi-party commissions responsible for creating compact, contiguous districts that comply with the voting rights law. 

Disclosure Victories: MT Bans Dark Money as AZ Court Upholds Broader Application of Disclosure Law

Montana’s new law requires that any entity, including nonprofits, spending money on election communications 60 days before an election has to report all of its funding if the communication targets or mentions a candidate.  In Arizona, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling holding that groups that run ads negatively portraying a candidate, even if they don’t explicitly mention the election and primarily discuss a specific issue, must comply with state disclosure laws.

Seattle Group Push Public Financing Initiative

Honest Elections Seattle, a coalition of volunteers and local groups, filed an initiative that would give voters four $25 vouchers for use in city elections. 

Comic Book Ads Campaign Targets SEC Chairwoman over Disclosure

Union Station ads portray Chairwoman Mary Jo White as the superhero to save all of us from the dark money “monsters” threatening us all by requiring publicly traded companies to disclose political spending.

NY Fails to Address Major Campaign Finance Loophole

The New York Ethics Board evenly split on a proposal to eliminate a loophole whereby each created LLC are treated as individuals and allowed to give $60,800 to statewide candidates rather than the $5,000 corporate limit.  Donors use this to create multiple LLCs and effectively get around contribution limits.

Maplight Explores the Connection Between Money in Politics & Complicated Tax Returns

Maplight highlights efforts to simplify tax returns and the opposition by large tax companies and their connections in Congress.