The People Power Newsletter - June 2015

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Pressure continues to build to get someone to do something about money in politics – the SEC could easily require disclosure of political spending by public companies, the Treasury Department and the IRS are considering a rule to define political activity by non-profits, and/or President Obama could require all government contractors to disclose their political spending through an executive order.

Many Senators and Congress members are responding to public pressure and signing a letter calling on the President to act, but some are responding in a far different way.  Sadly, the House Appropriations Committee approved a provision in the financial services spending bill that would specifically prohibit any of those actions. Defenders of “money as speech” have moved from arguing the right to give unlimited amounts to the right to do so without us knowing anything about it.

ACTION OF THE MONTH

If you find that as disgusting as we do, call the President Obama today asking him to sign an executive order so that all federal contractors must disclose their political spending.  The number is 855-980-5638.

Supreme Court Upholds Independent Redistricting Commissions, Lower Court Invalidates Virginia Districts

The Supreme Court rejected an argument that the U.S. Constitution held that only state legislatures could regulate elections including redistricting, protecting independent redistricting commissions created by voters to prevent gerrymandering.  Meanwhile, in another case likely to head to the Supreme Court, a U.S. District Court ruled that Virginia legislators did exactly what independent commissions are meant to prevent - illegally packing minority voters into a district in order to help obtain an 8-3 advantage in the Congressional delegation for their party.  Similarly, 27 plaintiffs in North Carolina have filed a lawsuit claiming that they and other minority voters were intentionally packed into districts to dilute their impact.

SIGN Common Cause's petition to bring redistricting to more states.


Clinton Pushes Legislation to Make it Vastly Easier to Vote, Her Lawyers Battle Restrictions in Court

In a sign that the need to fix our democracy is becoming a more critical issue for the 2016 elections, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is proposing legislation to ease the entire process of voting, starting with automatically registering all voters and providing a mandatory 20 day early period for all elections.  At the same time, groups affiliated with her have hired lawyers to go after restrictions in Wisconsin and Ohio – battleground states with governors who are considering running for president.  This sets up a possible battle in 2016 between parties who are involved in ongoing litigation.  Can someone who stands by their record of voting restrictions get elected nationwide?


Tea Party Reform Activist Proposes $200 Tax Credit for Small Contributions

Josh Pudner, president of Take Back Our Republic Action Fund, writes, “The Tea Party Case Against Mega-Donors,” arguing that having a tax credit for small donors will increase people’s involvement in politics and decrease the strength of big donors.


Arkansas Group Collecting Signatures to Consider Amendment Directing Congress Members to overturn Citizens United

A number of state and federal groups, including Arkansas Community Organizations, Arkansas Democracy Coalition, are leading the effort to collect 67,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, which would also mandate disclosure of all payments for political advertisements over $2,000. 


Fair Elections Now Act with Public Financing Reintroduced

Senator Dick Durbin has reintroduced legislation to create a system of public financing that includes a $25 tax credit, matching funds of six to one for all contributions up to $150 (which is the max contribution these candidates can accept) and making additional funds available for candidates targeted by outside attacks.  A similar bill titled Government by the People has been introduced in the House.


Congressman Sarbanes Discusses How to Get People to Care about Money in Politics

The key is to listen, find out what issues concerns them the most and get them to connect it back to money in politics themselves.  What do YOU think would make people care about getting money out of politics?  Share your answers on our facebook page.


Pataki Calls for Lifetime Ban on Elected Officials Becoming Lobbyists

As former elected officials routinely take multi-million dollar contracts from people they were previously regulating, one presidential candidate is proposing a solution: make it illegal.


Gyrocopter Pilot Rejects Plea Deal with Prison Time, Post Office Attempts to Fire Him

In the ongoing saga over how much speech We The People are allowed, the federal government felt that several years in prison was an appropriate plea deal offering for a nonviolent civil rights act in which no one was harmed.  Douglas Hughes bravely rejected this deal, risking many more years in prison.  Meanwhile, the Post Office has announced its intention to fire Doug Hughes for “unacceptable conduct,” likely related to using his uniform and the USPS symbol during his dramatic gyrocopter protest.  Another activist hero, Joe Lane, took the 535 letters that Hughes intended to deliver to Congress and hand-delivered them all.

 

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