Reform Groups Commend Congressional Leaders on Reintroduction of Money in Politics Legislation

http://www.pfaw.org/press-releases/2015/01/reform-groups-commend-congressional-leaders-reintroduction-money-politics-leg

The undersigned organizations commend today’s reintroduction by key Congressional sponsors of the “Defending Democracy” legislative package, a suite of proposed solutions to the problem of big money domination of our elections (full list below). We congratulate these members of Congress for moving forward on critical reform measures, from the disclosure of political spending to small donor public financing to a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC.  Millions of Americans are calling for change, and we applaud the Congressional leaders who are heeding that call through needed legislation.

Signed:

African American Ministers In Action
Alliance for a Just Society
American Association of University Women
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Courage Campaign
Daily Kos
Democracy 21
Democracy Matters
Demos
Endangered Species Coalition
Every Voice
Franciscan Action Network
Food and Water Watch
Free Speech For People
Friends of the Earth
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Main Street Alliance
Money Out Voters In
MoveOn.org
New Progressive Alliance
OurTime.org
People For the American Way
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Say No To Big Money
US PIRG
Voices for Progress

“Defend Democracy” Legislative Package:

1. Democracy for All Amendment: Provides Congress and the states with the authority to determine reasonable regulations on campaign financing and distinguish between natural persons and other artificial entities under campaign finance laws. Key sponsors: Sens. Udall, Sanders, Tester/Reps. Deutch, Edwards, McGovern.

2. DISCLOSE Act: Establishes a system of disclosure of campaign spending and the sources of those funds for all entities that make independent expenditures (at any time) and electioneering communications (in calendar year of an election for Congress; 120 days before the primary for presidential elections). Key sponsors: Sen. Whitehouse/Rep. Van Hollen.

3. Empowering small donors and increasing political participation: Matching public funds for small dollar contributions, and various other provisions. “Government by the People Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Rep. Sarbanes. “Empowering Citizens Act” (congressional and presidential elections), key sponsor: Rep. Price. “Fair Elections Now Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Sen. Durbin.

4. Prohibit campaign coordination: Clarifies the definition of “coordination” to include the close relationships and ties between a candidate and outside group or super PAC. Key sponsors: Sen. Tester/Rep. Price.

5. Real Time Transparency Act: Requires all political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to disclose electronically within 48 hours all cumulative contributions of $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Key sponsors: Sen. King/Rep. O’Rourke.

6. Sunlight for Unaccountable Nonprofits Act (SUN Act): Makes public the donors who give more than $5000 to tax-exempt groups that engage in election activities.  Key sponsor: Sen. Tester.

7. Shareholder Protection Act: Requires corporations to disclose to shareholders and the public spending of funds for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, even if such spending is indirectly done through a third party. Key sponsors: Sen. Menendez/Rep. Capuano.

A growing coalition of organizations has recognized that there is no silver bullet in the fight to get big money out of politics. Rather, there are many solutions which work together toward the same end goal: a democracy in which everyone participates, everyone’s voice is heard, everyone knows who is trying to buy influence, and everyone plays by common-sense rules and is held accountable to those rules. More than 130 organizations have signed on to a Unity Statement of Principles in support of those values.

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Members of Congress Mark Citizens United Anniversary With Reintroduction of Pro-Democracy Legislation

NEWS FROM THE U.S. SENATE AND U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jennifer Talhelm (Udall) 202.228.6870

January 21, 2015

Members of Congress Mark Citizens United Anniversary With Reintroduction of Pro-Democracy Legislation

WASHINGTON — Today, on the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, which paved the way for unlimited corporate political spending, U.S. Senators and Representatives came together in the U.S. Capitol to celebrate the reintroduction of legislation covering a host of solutions to the problem of big money domination of our elections. These reform measures (full list below) included small donor public financing, disclosure, a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, and stronger enforcement by federal agencies.

Additionally, two dozen reform groups issued a statement commending these members of Congress for moving forward on critical money in politics reform measures.

“Today, I’m proud to join lawmakers from both houses of Congress to reintroduce a package of comprehensive reforms to restore the integrity of our elections,” said Sen. Tom Udall (New Mexico). “It’s past time to act to put elections back in the hands of the voters – and get them out of the hands of billionaires and special interests. I believe the best way to fix our broken system is to amend the Constitution to overturn bad decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon and prevent future ones. But we also must pass reforms that will shine a light on the dark outside money and empower small donors. New Mexicans want change. They want a government that works and gets things done. We have to keep up the fight.”

“This amendment is about restoring confidence in our democracy and ending this unfettered spending by anonymous donors that overwhelms the rights of individual Americans to be heard,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado). “The Supreme Court’s misguided rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon have led to out-of-control spending on ads that are overwhelming the airwaves. The source of this spending is concentrated in a very small group of people whose agenda has nothing to do with the concerns of Colorado families. As a result, the issues debated in Washington are far removed from the ones on the minds of Americans.”

Citizens United enabled corporations and billionaires to secretly buy election influence,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island). “The DISCLOSE Act would require political groups backed by dark money donors to disclose where their money is coming from so voters know who is really behind those campaign ads. It’s a simple idea that many Republicans have supported in the past, and I’m hopeful that their new majority and new responsibility will lead them back to standing with the individual voters who elected them rather than the big special interests seeking to buy our democracy.”

“The flood of dark money into our elections is one of the biggest threats to our democracy,” said Sen. Jon Tester (Montana). “It empowers a wealthy few to drown out the voices of regular folks. We must bring sensible limitations and transparency to campaigns, so voters know who is trying to influence their vote.”

“Five years later, it’s clear that Citizens United has ushered in a new era of big money politics, given the wealthy and well-connected even greater control over the agenda in Washington and made everyday Americans more cynical about politics and government,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (Maryland). “That’s why I’ve introduced H.R. 20, Government By the People Act – to make everyday Americans just as powerful as big-money campaign donors, and to return our government back to the people.”

“The damage done by Citizens United and related decisions will only be undone by a more favorable Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment,” said Rep. David Price (North Carolina). “But I strongly believe that Congress must make progress on smaller reforms in the meantime. Today, I am introducing the Empowering Citizens Act with my good friend Chris Van Hollen. This important legislation would stem the growing influence of individual-candidate Super PACs — which are dedicated to the election of a single candidate — by restricting their affiliation with campaigns.”

“Corporate executives should not be able to treat money invested by shareholders as their personal piggy bank for political campaign spending, especially without shareholders’ knowledge or consent,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (New Jersey). “As the destructive repercussions of the Citizens United decision continue to give corporations undue influence on elections, this legislation will provide long overdue accountability and transparency.  The Shareholder Protection Act will ensure that a company’s executives have the informed consent of shareholders before they can spend shareholders’ money on politics.”

“The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has had profoundly negative effects for all parties in our election system, including shareholders. The Shareholder Protection Act is one way to address the impact of that decision on our elections. A corporation’s money belongs to its shareholders and they, not a handful of corporate executives, should be deciding how that money is spent,” said Rep. Michael Capuano (Massachusetts).

The “Defend Democracy” Legislative Package:

Democracy for All Amendment: Provides Congress and the states with the authority to determine reasonable regulations on campaign financing and distinguish between natural persons and other artificial entities under campaign finance laws. Key sponsors: Sens. Udall, Sanders, Tester/Reps. Deutch, Edwards, McGovern.

DISCLOSE Act: Establishes a system of disclosure of campaign spending and the sources of those funds for all entities that make independent expenditures (at any time) and electioneering communications (in calendar year of an election for Congress; 120 days before the primary for presidential elections). Key sponsors: Sen. Whitehouse/Rep. Van Hollen.

Empowering small donors and increasing political participation: Matching public funds for small dollar contributions, and various other provisions. “Government by the People Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Rep. Sarbanes. “Empowering Citizens Act” (congressional and presidential elections), key sponsor: Rep. Price. “Fair Elections Now Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Sen. Durbin.

Prohibit campaign coordination: Clarifies the definition of “coordination” to include the close relationships and ties between a candidate and outside group or super PAC. Key sponsors: Rep. Price.

Real Time Transparency Act: Requires all political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to disclose electronically within 48 hours all cumulative contributions of $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Key sponsors: Sen. King/Rep. O’Rourke.

Sunlight for Unaccountable Nonprofits Act (SUN Act): Makes public the donors who give more than $5000 to tax-exempt groups that engage in election activities. Key sponsor: Sen. Tester.

Shareholder Protection Act: Requires corporations to disclose to shareholders and the public spending of funds for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, even if such spending is indirectly done through a third party. Key sponsors: Sen. Menendez/Rep. Capuano.

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Unity Statement of Principles: Solutions to the Undue Influence of Money in Politics

Original Post: http://www.getmoneyoutaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/UnityStatementSigners0116.pdf

The following is a statement of principles endorsed by 131 organizations in support of a wide range of solutions to the undue influence of big money in politics. Coming together to protect our fundamental democratic values, this is the largest collection of groups ever aligned behind such an extensive set of policy solutions to the money in politics challenge.

Each reform measure is an integral part of the solution, together working to build the type of democracy Americans want to live in.

Unity Statement of Principles

Solutions to the Undue Influence of Money in Politics

Democracy requires a commitment to self‐government passed from one generation to the next. We recognize our obligation to preserve our representative democracy as our way of resolving reasonable disagreements on public policy. Like generations before us, we come together as citizens setting aside policy differences and uniting to preserve our democracy, so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this Earth. We stand united in support of a comprehensive set of public policies that recognizes the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics that is eroding the very foundation of self‐government.

This Unity Statement of Principles reflects policies already working in many parts of the country to ensure a democracy where everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard; where everyone knows who is buying influence in our elections and government; and where politicians play by common sense rules and are held accountable with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.

1. Everyone participates: In a democracy, everyone should have a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. Our system of funding elections should not privilege any particular interest, nor suppress the voices of others. We need to provide incentives that encourage the active participation of small donors in our elections so candidates are accountable to, and dependent on, the people, not moneyed interests.

2. Everyone’s voice is heard: Our democracy is based on the principle of one person, one vote—not one dollar, one vote. From equal access to the ballot box to the right not to be silenced by big money, democracy requires we recognize each other as equals in the political process. When elected representatives only hear the policy preferences of the very rich it distorts government’s responsiveness to the people. We need limits on using money in politics so our democracy doesn’t just respond to wealthy and corporate interests but responds to the needs of the people.

3. Everyone knows: Voters have the right to know who is trying to influence our views and gain improper influence over our representatives. We need effective disclosure requirements for the use of money at all levels of government because transparency is a foundation for accountability.

4. Everyone plays by common sense rules: Access to and influence over our elected representatives should not be determined by the size of your wallet. We must overturn the effects of cases like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC and reclaim our Constitution to empower people to adopt common sense rules to stop the improper influence of big money on our government.

5. Everyone is held accountable: We need a fair and accessible elections system so our elected officials will be responsive and accountable to the people. This requires the FEC, IRS, SEC, FCC, and state agencies to enforce our laws so those who break them face real consequences that deter bad behavior.

Signers as of January 16, 2015

 350 Colorado
 ActivUs
 AFL-CIO
 Alliance for a Just Society
 American Association of University Women (AAUW)
 American Family Voices
 American Sustainable Business Council
 APALA-DC
 Appalachian Coalition for Just and Sustainable Communities
 Asian Americans Advancing Justice
 Ben & Jerry’s
 Bend the Arc Jewish Action
 Boston Common Asset Management
 Brave New Films
 Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
 BridgeRoots
 Center for Effective Government
 Center For Environmental Health
 Center for Media and Democracy
 Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists
 Center for Science in the Public Interest
 Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
 Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
 Christopher Reynolds Foundation
 Citizen Works
 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
 Co-operate Colorado
 Coffee Party USA
 Common Cause
 Communications Workers of America
 Community Organizations in Action
 Conference of Major Superiors
 Constitutional Accountability Center
 Corporate Accountability International
 Courage Campaign
 Cow Hollow Fund at San Francisco Foundation
 CT Citizen Action Group (CCAG)
 Daily Kos
 Democracy 21
 Democracy for America
 Democracy Matters
 Democracy Matters – UPenn Chapter
 Demos
 Eco-Justice Ministries
 Endangered Species Coalition
 Energy and Policy Institute
 Environment Texas
 Ethical Markets Media
 Every Voice
 Fair Share
 Food & Water Watch
 Franciscan Action Network
 Free Speech For People
 Friends of the Earth
 Government Accountability Project
 Green Party Alliance at USF
 Greenpeace
 Harrington Investments
 Illinois Democratic Women
 Illinois Right to Know GMO
 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
 Investor Voice
 Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
 Issue One
 Jobs With Justice
 Justice Party USA
 Kansas Values Institute
 League of Conservation Voters
 Left Action
 LocalHarvest
 Metro Denver
 Missionary Oblates JPIC
 Money Out Voters In
 MoveOn.org
 MOVI Wisconsin
 NAACP
 National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
 National LGBTQ Task Force
 National People’s Action Campaign
 National Women’s Political Caucus
 Natural Resources Defense Council
 NCLR Action Fund
 NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
 New Progressive Alliance
 Newground Social Investment
 North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections Coalition
 NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.
 Northwest Side Housing Center
 OurTime.org
 Pax World Management LLC
 Pay to Play
 People Demanding Action
 People For the American Way
 People’s Email Network
 Piper Fund
 Progress Florida
 Progress Texas
 Progressive Change Campaign Committee
 Progressive Democrats of America
 Public Campaign
 Public Citizen
 Purdue NORML
 Represent.Us
 ReThink Media
 Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network
 RootsAction
 Say No To Big Money
 Sierra Club
 Sisters of Mercy – Institute Justice Team
 Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
 Social Equity Group
 Stamp Stampede
 State Innovation Exchange (SiX)
 Story of Stuff
 Temple Political Science Society
 The Main Street Alliance
 The Other 98%
 UConn Students for Sensible Drug Policy
 Unitarian Universalist Association
 United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
 Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province
 US PIRG
 USAction
 Vermont PIRG
 Voices for Progress
 WAmend
 Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
 Women Donors Network
 Working America
 Young Democratic Socialists
 Zevin Asset Management, LLC

PFAW Edit Memo: The Growing Movement to Defend Democracy Five Years After Citizens United

NOTE: This Edit Memo originally posted at People for the American Way / pfaw.org.

PFAW (c4)To: Interested Parties

From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
Date: January 20, 2015
Re: The Growing Movement to Defend Democracy Five Years After
Citizens United

Five years ago this week, the Supreme Court handed down its destructive decision inCitizens United v. FEC, a ruling that set the stage for an influx of outside spending in our democracy. This trend was on display in the 2014 election cycle, which saw the most outside spending of any midterm in our country’s history.

While Citizens United wrought unprecedented harm on our political process, it also ushered in a nationwide movement seeking to undo this harm. In just five years, more than 600 cities and towns as well as 16 states have officially called for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, and more than 4.5 million Americans have signed their name to a petition calling for such an amendment.

While undoing the damage the Supreme Court has done to our country’s campaign finance laws – and our electoral democracy as a result – requires either a constitutional amendment or a fundamental change in the court’s composition or jurisprudence, there are a number of other measures advocates are pushing to help mitigate the damage in the short term. The fifth anniversary shines a spotlight on a movement that has unified in unprecedented ways – a movement that has moved beyond a focus solely on the problem of big money in politics toward a focus on the broad range of solutions. While Americans understand the problem, there is a hunger for solutions.

Many of these solutions are on display this week as Congressional leaders come together to reintroduce a package of reform measures that work in tandem to address the big money domination of our political system. From small donor empowerment measures to the disclosure of political spending to a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, the joint reintroduction of these reform measures (outlined below) highlights the fact that each is an integral part of the long-term solution:

1. Democracy for All Amendment: Provides Congress and the states with the authority to determine reasonable regulations on campaign financing and distinguish between natural persons and other artificial entities under campaign finance laws. Key sponsors: Sens. Udall, Sanders, Tester/Reps. Deutch, Edwards, McGovern.

2. DISCLOSE Act: Establishes a system of disclosure of campaign spending and the sources of those funds for all entities that make independent expenditures (at any time) and electioneering communications (in calendar year of an election for Congress; 120 days before the primary for presidential elections). Key sponsors: Sen. Whitehouse/Rep. Van Hollen.

3. Empowering small donors and increasing political participation: Matching public funds for small dollar contributions, and various other provisions. “Government by the People Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Rep. Sarbanes. “Empowering Citizens Act” (congressional and presidential elections), key sponsor: Rep. Price. “Fair Elections Now Act” (congressional elections), key sponsor: Sen. Durbin.

4. Prohibit campaign coordination: Clarifies the definition of “coordination” to include the close relationships and ties between a candidate and outside group or super PAC. Key sponsors: Sen. Tester/Rep. Price.

5. Real Time Transparency Act: Requires all political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to disclose electronically within 48 hours all cumulative contributions of $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Key sponsors: Sen. King/Rep. O’Rourke.

6. Sunlight for Unaccountable Nonprofits Act (SUN Act): Makes public the donors who give more than $5,000 to tax-exempt groups that engage in election activities. Key sponsor: Sen. Tester.

7. Shareholder Protection Act: Requires corporations to disclose to shareholders and the public spending of funds for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, even if such spending is indirectly done through a third party. Key sponsors: Sen. Menendez/Rep. Capuano.

As elected officials are coming together around policy solutions, advocates are coming together around shared values and goals. Last week, a wide range of pro-democracy groups issued a unified declaration of principles on money in politics reform. This “Unity Statement of Principles” has been signed by more than 130 organizations and represents the largest collection of organizations ever united in support of such an extensive range of solutions on these issues. Further, in cities across the country activists are hosting more than 60 events on the week of the anniversary to raise their voices against big money in politics.

We urge your editorial board to take advantage of the Citizens United anniversary to highlight for readers not only the growing problem of the big money domination of our elections, but also the solutions taking root across the country.

For the latest polling information, fact sheets, and updates about grassroots money in politics activism, please visit http://www.getmoneyoutaction.org/.

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