The People Power Newsletter - Elections Edition


This month's off-year elections had some major battles to get money out of our elections, and WE WON BIG!  Voters in Maine and Seattle passed major campaign funding reforms that included different forms of public financing, while Ohio voters reformed their redistricting process to prevent gerrymandering for the state legislature.  These elections demonstrate what reformers have long been arguing: there's deep bipartisan support for fundamental reform to reclaim our democracy, all that we need is strong reform proposals.  When we have those, we win every time!


A coalition of reform groups has collected an estimated 850,000 signatures calling for President Obama to sign an executive order forcing government contractors to reveal their political spending, which are being dropped off on November 10th!  Join a national call-in supporting this effort by dialing 1-888-894-6720 and leaving your message for the president.

CA, WA Voters May Be Heard on Citizens United

Last year, California lawmakers attempted to place a resolution (Prop 49) on the ballot calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, but the measure was delayed by the courts.  The CA Supreme Court hearing seemed to go well and, fingers-crossed, it should be back on the ballot in 2016.  Meanwhile, Washington residents are working hard to gather signatures  to put a similar measure on their own ballot.  If both states have initiatives for voters to decide, it should get the country talking...

CA, AL Offer Competing Views of Voting Rights

California has passed a number of recent initiatives to make voting easier, including online registration and, more recently, automatic registration of voters at the DMV.  Alabama, meanwhile, has taken the opposite tack, requiring a government ID to vote and closing 31 DMV offices across the state, particularly hurting African-American areas.  Before announcing the closures, Alabama had been threatened with a federal lawsuit for failing to EVER offer voter registration services in government offices as required for the past 20 years.

New FL Law Allows Judge to Choose Non-Partisan Maps

Following 2010 voter-approved amendments that forbid the drawing of maps to hurt or help an incumbent or party, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis was able to repeatedly reject gerrymandered maps drawn by the Florida state legislature which had partisan intent and instead, accept a map drawn by reform organizations.  Florida lawmakers have proposed fining any legislator that participates in drawing partisan maps in the future.

MAYDAY PAC First 2016 Endorsement is Longtime Public Financing Champion

MAYDAY.US, the Super PAC to end Super PACs, just announced it is supporting reform candidate Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Congress.  Raskin, a constitutional law professor, is one of the leaders fighting to overturn Citizens United by establishing public financing and creating a more fair election system in Maryland.  He wrote the book, The Wealth Primary, that Lawrence Lessig and Zephyr Teachout have used as a framework for campaign finance reform - 25 years ago.

Renewed Call for SEC to Require Disclosure

58 Democratic Representatives, led by Patrick Murphy and Jack Murtha, and Senate Democrats on the Banking Committee signed on to separate letters calling on SEC chair Mary Jo White to support a formal rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. 

Billionaire Threatens $150M Campaign Unless Corporate Taxes Lowered

Carl Icahn, an activist investor with significant holdings in Apple, has threatened to spend $150 million through his Super PAC unless Congress approves a bipartisan proposal to lower overseas corporate taxes. Icahn portrays himself as proposing a commonsense solution in the face of Congressional gridlock. The proposal would allow companies to repatriate overseas funds at a low tax rate to fund infrastructure and then permanently establish a lower overseas tax rate.  One wonders if the Supreme Court would consider this quid pro quo or just outright blackmail.