The People Power Newsletter - August 2015


Money in politics is taking on a key role in the presidential primaries of both parties.  Corruption has already been a major issue in the Democratic primary, even before Lawrence Lessig announced he is exploring a referendum presidential campaign with the promise of passing campaign finance reform and resigning.  On the Republican side, Donald Trump is the most explicit in criticizing a system that turns politicians into “puppets” for wealthy interests, but his solution is to elect one of those wealthy interests directly and hasn't ruled out taking money from Super PACs either.  Jeb Bush, meanwhile, has proposed a six year lobbying ban for former Congressmembers – an improvement, but short of the lifetime of no lobbying pledge sought by gyrocopter pilot Douglas Hughes.  People are organizing a campaign around Doug's trial calling for candidates for Congress to take the pledge.


Sign the Money In Politics A To Z Guide Overturn Citizens United Petition and share the contest with artistic friends.

Movement for Reform Amendment Draws from Same Spirit as Women’s Suffrage Movement

Almost a hundred years ago, the United States was in a protracted battle to overturn a Supreme Court decision that harmed our democracy by denying that women had a Constitutional right to vote.  It took years of effort, but the People won and our democracy took a step forward.  We will do it again.

12 Campaign Finance Reform Groups Release Agenda for Presidential Candidates

The 21st Century Democracy Agenda calls for elections guided by the following principles: everyone participates, everyone is heard, full transparency, fair common-sense rules and full accountability for violations.  Specifically, it calls for public financing, real-time disclosure of fundraising and spending, a constitutional amendment to allow regulation, appointment of supportive Supreme Court justices, shutting down SuperPACs and strengthening investigation and enforcement of election laws.

Cheaper Air Time Helps Candidates Hold Line Against SuperPACs

A federal election law mandating that candidates can buy TV ads at the “lowest unit rate” results in them paying far less for ads compared to SuperPACs in the final 45 days before a primary.  The Brennan Center has suggested extending this period to 90 days as a way to further level the playing field, but free air time for all candidates would be more straightforward. 

New Mayday.US CEO Wants to Make Private Financing “Toxic” in 2016 Congressional Races

New Mayday.US CEO Zephyr Teachout, taking over from Lawrence Lessig, wants to make our “incredibly insane” private financing system “toxic” in 2016 Congressional races.  Zephyr continued, “if you are silent on private financing in elections and aren’t actively supporting some model of public financing, that’s a problem—you’re a pro-corruption candidate.”

60-Year Anniversary of Voting Rights Act Sees U.S. Fighting Same Old Battle

60 years after we passed the Voting Rights Act we’re fighting the same battles over access to the polls. New voter I.D. rules, recent reductions in early voting and elimination of same-day registration have replaced poll taxes and literacy tests of yesteryear.  President Obama wrote a moving letter about a woman who fought to vote 60 years ago and continues to fight voting restrictions in North Carolina today.

Florida Legislature Fails to Agree on Redrawing Illegal Districts, Court Takes Over

Following a decision from the Florida Supreme Court invalidating eight districts, the Florida House and Senate failed to agree on new districts, before the special legislative section came to an end.  With this inaction, control of redrawing all of Florida’s Congressional districts falls to a trial judge, who has complete flexibility in drawing the map. Hopefully, Florida will get better maps.  We'll keep you posted on how the new map turns out.

Los Angeles Considering Requiring Ownership Disclosure from Corporate Donors

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission is considering requiring groups like corporations and LLCs who donate in city elections to disclose information about the identity of its owners.  LLCs in particular are often used as donation vehicles as a way for the same donor to get around donation limits as it is generally difficult to discover if multiple LLCs are owned by the same person.