Meet at the Capitol and Help Get the Big Money Out of Politics!

Assemble for Redress of Grievances
Thursday January 21, 10 to noon
North Hearing Room on the 2nd floor of the State Capitol

Citizens across the State of Wisconsin want to get big money (especially big dark money) out of politics, but the state Legislature continues to ignore widespread and overwhelming calls for a Constitutional amendment to fix the problem. This is an opportunity to show them how serious we are about reclaiming our democracy.

MOVI Rally 2Rep. Lisa Subeck has introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 8, calling for a statewide referendum to determine citizen opinion on whether Wisconsin should support the “We the People” Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. The Assembly leadership hasn’t scheduled an official hearing on it, so Rep. Subeck has arranged an informal one for 10 AM to noon on Thursday, January 21 (significantly the 6th anniversary of Citizens United). It’ll be in the North Hearing Room on the 2nd floor of the State Capitol.

The first speakers would be Rep. Subeck and Sen. Dave Hansen, who has introduced the companion Senate Joint Resolution 12. Then there’d be some notable public figures. Then comes the citizen portion.

We really want a good turnout from outside the Madison area, which will otherwise be well represented. Nobody would be expected to speak for very long — a minute or so at most — but we’d like a lot of them. Ideally, after the hearing is over, each of them would visit the offices of their own representatives and senators and deliver the same message in person — to the elected official in person if possible, to a staff member if not.

And then, that evening, you’re invited to an Unhappy Birthday Party for Citizens United, 6:30 to 9:30 PM, at the Brocach Irish Pub, 7 W. Main St. on Capitol Square in Madison. Sponsored by South Central Wisconsin United To Amend, it’ll feature Mike Crute of The Devil’s Advocates as MC, Mike McCabe of Blue Jean Nation and John Nichols of The Nation magazine as featured speakers, a couple of other notable speakers (still being confirmed), (soft) classic rock by The Sundogs, a cake, a raffle, networking with fellow advocates of democracy, and the kind of wake that the Irish are famous for. We’re hoping that democracy will sit up in its coffin and loudly proclaim “Hey! I’m not dead yet!”

More Bad-Government Bills Introduced in Wisconsin

A series of bad-government bills have just been introduced into our state legislature, which would enable more and more corruption in Wisconsin. Legalized bribery via campaign donations would be easier than ever. Other proposed bills would gut the GAB, which would aid in avoiding any repercussions for bad behavior. We must stand up and fight for what is right! Please call, write, email and meet with any and all representatives you possibly can. For some background information, please read articles HERE and HERE.

Thanks to WI Voices for the following information:

The Campaign Finance bills are SB 292 and AB 387. The GAB Bill has been assigned numbers (AB 388 and SB 294) and hearings on the bills have been set for Tuesday, October 13th at 9 am. Please continue your support against these changes helping us with the following:

Join us for our press conference

** Because we have so many people coming to the hearing tomorrow, we are NOT going to have a press conference tomorrow. Instead, everyone should go directly to the hearing at 412 East and members of the coalition will be available outside of the hearing to answer media questions. Peter Skopec from WISPIRG and Jay Heck from Common Cause will answer questions about the GAB and Campaign Finance bills, and Colleen Gruszynski from WI Voices can take questions about the online and SRD bill.

Please come to the Hearing

The Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government will have a hearing at 9 am Tuesday, October 13th at 412 East in the Capitol. The GAB, Campaign Finance and Elections Technology Bill will all be discussed.

Please spread the word!

Here is some sample language you can use for turnout:

“Hi, this is __ from ____. As you’ve seen in the media, the Republicans are trying to fast track legislation that would remove our rights to know who is spending money on elections and would cause less oversight over politicians. Would you be able to join us on Tuesday at 9 am for the hearing?”

Please call, write, email and meet with your legislators

Please make sure you and your friends are calling their legislators. A sample script could look like:

“Hi, my name is _____. SB 292 and AB 387 takes away my right to know who is spending money in politics and no longer states that campaign finance laws should serve the public, not politicians. SB 294 and AB 388 guts our ability to make sure you are obeying the rules. As your constituent, I have the right to know who is spending money on your elections and not have election officials that are in the pocket of legislators. Vote no on SB 292/AB 387 and SB 294/AB 388.”

Keep the pressure up online

Please use the #SavetheGAB. Here is a Facebook meme Common Cause created.

Register Against the GAB Bill

Please register against the GAB Bill (AB 388 and SB 294).

Let us know if you have more questions. Thanks!

Colleen

Colleen Gruszynski
WI Voices-Data and Targeting Manager
colleen@statevoices.org

Three More Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

MoveToAmendWI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436 / geo_penn@charter.net

Three More Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (April 8, 2015) ­ On Tuesday, April 7th, three communities voted in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that money is not speech and that only real people should have inalienable Constitutional rights. This would reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to big money in elections.

All of the referenda passed with striking majorities: Watertown (69%), Evansville (80%), and the Town of Reedsburg (63%).

This brings the total number of Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment to 57. In total, over 2.4 million people (41% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 16 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 650 towns, villages, cities and other organizations.

After the votes were counted, Brad Geyer, the resolution campaign leader in Watertown said: “Instead of representative government serving the people, increasingly, we have corruption, conflicts of interest and bribery. A handful of people on the US Supreme Court have handed power to the highest bidders. We will overcome this corruption when people step up in enough numbers to show our leaders our true will.”

Polls have shown widespread disapproval of Citizens United across the political spectrum. According to an August 2014 poll, more than three quarters (78%) of voters feel that reducing the influence of money in politics is an important issue.

“I’m very pleased and excited that we got our message across to the people of Evansville,” said Fran Zell, campaign organizer. “We worked hard, but also the people were ready to hear our message. This movement has gained so much momentum across the state. People believing in their power to change things is the crux of the matter.”

“When will the legislators in Madison listen to the people of Wisconsin?” said Bill Waser, leader of the petition drive in the Town of Reedsburg. “I spent over 10 years in our Navy and never once did I hear at morning muster “AT&T, GM, or Walmart. How can you say that a corporation, union, or other nonprofit organization is a person? Sure, made up of people, but so is a city… is a city a person? It’s ridiculous.

Democracy is a living, breathing ideal that needs to be nourished and worked on. Now is time to right this wrong! Stand with your fellow citizens across the land and get this referendum passed in your town, village, or city. We’re here to help you.”

Move To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: http://wimta.org

Wisconsin Move To Amend Background Information:
http://wimta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Community-Handout-and-Messaging.pdf
http://wimta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Citizen-Lobbying-1-pager.pdf

Vote Yes: Govt By the People, Not the Highest Bidder

WHAT: An educational presentation in preparation for the vote on the Move To Amend referendum in the City of Watertown.

WHERE: Watertown Senior Center, 514 S. First St, Watertown, WI

WHEN: Thursday, March 26th from 7-8:15pm

Our speakers will be Lisa Graves and George Penn. There is no charge for the event. Please RSVP on Facebook!

Lisa Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general at the US Justice Department, is the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. Lisa will talk about the importance of protecting the Bill of Rights for human beings with a constitutional amendment. She will also discuss preserving our freedom of speech while fighting corruption, conflicts of interest, and working to stop the legalized bribery in our system.

(PRWatch.org and ALECexposed.org are published by the Center for Media and Democracy)

George Penn, a former nuclear engineer and energy consultant, heads up the Move To Amend Outreach Team & Interfaith Caucus. George will be introducing the ideas around what the amendment is working to accomplish: rule by the people. He will discuss the invention and expansion of constitutional rights of artificial legal entities such as corporations and unions, as well as, how the lack of regulation on political spending by these entities is undermining our republic created to represent human beings.

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More info: Brad Geyer (920) 674-4640 or Dan Fary (920) 563-3072

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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