Newsletter #19 Sept 2016: Updates on Initiatives, Election Integrity, Money in WA Campaigns, and more
Newsletter #18 June 2016: Announcing New Staff – Early Bird Cutoff and more.
Newsletter #17 March 2016: Democracy Reforms-How to Make Them Happen
Newsletter #15 Sept. 2015 October Surprise
Newsletter #14 June, 2015: Award winners, Initiative Updates and more
Newsletter #13 March, 2015
Newsletter #11 October, 2014
Newsletter #10 August, 2014
Newsletter #9 June, 2014
Newsletter #8 April, 2014
Newsletter #7, February 2014: Good News on Initiative and Public Financing here
Newsletter #6, December 2013 : Elections, Money and the IRS
Newsletter #5, October 2013 : Oct News About Public Financing & Election Reforms
Newsletter #4, August 2013 : Should this ballot measure be approved? Washington Public Campaigns says YES!
Newsletter #3, June 2013 : What’s Happening with Fair Elections, Amending the Constitution and the IRS
Newsletter #2, April 2013: Legislative and Public Financing Update and Other News
Newsletter #1, February 2013: WPC – Update and 2013 Priorities
Newsletter #7 February, 2014
Good News on Initiative and Public Financing Here
WAmend Initiative I-1329 Hits the Streets
We the People: Claiming Our Democracy Initiative 1329 petitions hit the streets on Friday, January 31. They are at points across the state in major distribution areas including Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, Bellingham, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, East, North and South King County, Kitsap County, Port Townsend, Everett, Tacoma and Olympia. The all-volunteer signature gathering has begun.
Success of the ballot measure will put Washington State on record calling for a Constitutional Amendment to “clarify that Constitutional rights apply to natural persons not corporations and to authorize greater regulation of political contributions and expenditures”. Read the full text, download or request petitions and find the area coordinator for your zip code/area by going to www.wamend.org. Look for the box on the right and Get Involved!.
A How-to on Recruiting Signature Gatherers
Recruiting 20 people to gather signatures was easy. They are my family and friends, and I promised them lunch at a Thai restaurant where I would pass out petitions, signs, and material and share tips on how to collect signatures.
I had sent them three e-mail updates: the first describing the initiative process and our plan for gathering signatures, the second celebrating the Secretary of State’s decision giving our initiative a number:1329! The third update set February 4 as the date for our lunch at the Thai restaurant. Attached to the email was the good news that We Are One Third of the Way toward a Constitutional Amendment!
Grocer’s Association Sues Washington’s Attorney General
The Grocer Manufacturers Association (GMA) that poured millions of dollars of dark money into defeating I-522, GMO Labeling Initiative is now suing the Washington State Attorney General for enforcing the State’s Public Disclosure laws. The GMA is out to force a Constitutional challenge of Washington’s disclosure laws, which are a model across the USA. Read the AG’s press release here.
Brother/Sister Can You Spare a Dollar?
Thanks to WPC supporters who responded to the email or snail mail request at the end of year and early January. Your contribution helps us work on the issues you read about in this newsletter. Petitions that were mailed to supporters are coming back and will be delivered to US Senators Murray and Cantwell.
We will be sending out a link to an online petition for those of you who may not have received it. If you have not sent in the petition or contribution envelope, it’s easy to contribute online by clicking on the donate buttons in this email. If you want to contribute less than $10, please mail your contribution to Washington Public Campaigns, PO Box 70452, Seattle, WA 98127. And thank you again for supporting WPC.
Another Chance for Public Financing in Seattle?
Fair Elections Seattle is considering another run at getting a ballot measure approved that would publicly finance elections for Seattle City Council races. Given how close Seattle Proposition 1 came to winning in November (1400 votes – less than one-half of one percent), there is more interest in supporting a ballot issue a second time around. Another factor is that Prop 1 needs to be modified anyway to accommodate the approval of city council elections by district. Washington Public Campaigns is keeping abreast of the progress with stakeholders and will keep supporters apprised of decisions that are made.
Bill to Publicly Finance State Supreme Court Races Introduced
A bill to publicly finance State Supreme Court races has been introduced in the Washington State Legislature by State Representative Reuven Carlyle (D-36). At the hearing on the bill both Carlyle and Alice Woldt, WPC’s Executive Director, made the point that our justice system, above all, should be trusted by its citizens to be unbiased, impartial and independent. Money spent on judicial campaigns has escalated at an alarming rate, and campaigns are being funded by individuals and groups with special interests in court decisions. WPC has urged the House Government Operations and Elections Committee to approve HB 2525.
“Government By the People” Act Empowers Everyday Americans
Empowering every voter to make modest but significant campaign contributions would reduce the influence of big money and make our government accountable to everyday Americans. An ingenious proposal to distribute the power of the purse as equally as we distribute the power of the vote has been authored by Representative John Sarbanes and is called “Government By the People Act.”
The key element of this proposal is a $25 tax credit which would be available to every voter for distribution to the various candidates’ campaigns. These contributions would, in turn, be matched by as much as 9 to 1 by money from a fund of public dollars. Thus a citizen’s contribution of $25 could release $250 to a candidate. This tax credit would make ordinary citizens a competitive source of campaign funding that would offset the advantage the ultra-wealthy enjoy in our current funding system.
Washington Public Campaigns supports this new approach and will be working with our members of Congress and Public Campaigns to help it become a reality. For more information on the bill and to find out how to help this idea become law stay tuned to this website.
Dark Money Outrages
Dark money is now a major force in our campaigns. How did this come about when the Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision assured us that transparency would assure proper identification of sources of political money? And what are some activist organizations trying to do about the situation? Read More
Internet Neutrality —Lost
Perhaps the single greatest opportunity for the wealthy to purchase more than their share of our democracy is provided by the high cost of presenting ideas and candidates to the public. Until recently, the internet has been a vital bastion of equality in the communications arena. No more. A D.C. appellant court ruling on January 14, 2014, ended the era in which all internet users were treated equally… Read More
Newsletter #6 – December 2013
Elections, Money and the IRS
Seattle Prop 1 Loses by Less Than 1%
Fair Elections Seattle (FES) only needed to convince 714 of the no voters on the merits of public financing for Proposition 1 to win. The final vote on the proposal to publicly finance Seattle City Council campaigns was 49.63% Yes (96119 votes) to 50.37% No (97545 votes).
Washington Public Campaigns (WPC) supported this effort right to the end – including chasing down voters whose ballots had been rejected because of signature issues. Though the election was held November 7, phone calls were made and ballots were chased until the November 21 count when it was clear there were not enough outstanding ballots to make up the difference. In a gathering of supporters on November 23, City Council member Mike O’Brien was optimistic about putting it on the ballot again, given how close it came to winning.
IRS Proposes New Rules for 501(c)(4)s
The IRS is publishing a proposed new guideline for legitimate political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. It is proposed to expressly forbid that they engage in certain overt political actions. Your positive comments will be needed to carry this over the finish line.
The proposed rules state that the organizations cannot expressly advocate for a candidate or a political party. Within 60 days of an election they cannot clearly identify a specific candidate or party in advertising or other communications, which would include opposition advertising or “thank Congressman X for voting with us”. Nor can they make any expenditure or contribution that needs to be reported to the Federal Elections Commission or under state campaign finance laws or make contributions to a 527 political action organization. Nor can they support voter registration or “get out the vote” campaigns. They cannot support the preparation of voter guides or distribute literature that has been prepared by a candidate or political party.
For more details click here.
$3 Million Spent on State Senate Race
The race to fill the remaining term of Congressman Derek Kilmer’s State Senate seat drew a total of $3 million because of the close division of the State Senate. Counting expenditures by the candidate and by independent expenditure committees, Republican Jan Angel accounted for $1,416,647 while Democrat Nathan Schlicher accounted for $1,590,570. But independent expenditure campaigns dominated the campaign. Angel’s candidate committee spent 49% of her total and Schlicher’s candidate committee spent only 32% of his total. More than 80% of the money spent by the independent committees was spent on negative advertising, while only 20% was spent on singing the candidates praises. Some political scientists argue that spending on negative messages does not really sway voters; rather it stokes cynicism and discourages voting.
A detailed analysis of exactly who contributed and how much is difficult because the Public Disclosure Commission does not provide an easy way to quickly add up the expenditures by each independent committee or to total the repeated contributions by individuals or other committees.. Some contributors gave both to a candidate and to an independent committee. Some also gave to other committees that then gave to one of the independent committees. Some contributors gave both to a candidate and to a political organization that then gave to the candidate. Analysis was also difficult because some contributors were organizations from outside Washington which did not file their own reports. It is not known if some of the same Washington contributors who gave directly to the campaigns and reporting committees also gave to non-reporting out-of-state committees.
Initiative 522 – The Triumph of Money
The recent Initiative 522 requiring the labeling of GMO foods was noteworthy because the amount of money ($22 million) that was spent to defeat the initiative is a record for initiatives in Washington State. A September Elway poll showed 66% of potential voters supporting the measure, but by election time it received only 49% of the vote, an unprecedented turnaround. The initiative opponents used their war chest to saturate television, radio, and direct mail. As a result, they overwhelmed the supporters.
However, the No on 522 Campaign has been accused of achieving victory by relying on “dark money”. According to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) collected some $10.6 million from members to oppose the initiative without complying with the State’s campaign-finance laws. The GMA, according to Ferguson, attempted to shield their donors from the scrutiny required by Washington law and there should be sanctions as a consequence. Ferguson has launched a formal complaint but no date has been set for the trial. You can read more details on this situation as reported in the Seattle Times HERE.
The Seattle Weekly reported more analysis of the campaign HERE.
Will You Help?
Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend) is about ready to put on a full court press. The initiative language is ready and 30 word descriptions and messaging is being tested. Speaker’s trainings are being held. WAmend is making it easy to become knowledgeable about the initiative to put Washington State on record and Congress on notice that a Constitutional Amendment is needed to overturn Citizen’s United and get money out of politics. There will be a training session in West Seattle this Saturday, December 7, 2:00-5:00 p.m. If you are interested in attending, please call Libby Carr at 206-938-8721 or email email@example.com for directions. Space is limited.
Come mid-January we will need many, many volunteers. WPC is helping to recruit signature gatherers, speakers and others to get the initiative on the ballot. If you can help please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here is Another Way to Help:
High School Civics Class Speakers Needed
The future belongs to the young. That’s why it is so important that they have a hand in shaping it. And the first step is for them to understand what is happening to our democracy. Then they need to be made aware of the ways in which ordinary people are fighting to regain control of our democracy and make it work for the broad general public rather than a few players with lots of money. This is why Washington Public Campaigns is collaborating with the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (www.WAMEND.org ) to bring speakers to high school civics classes. Speakers show a short movie entitled “The Story of Citizens United.” The movie was created by The Story of Stuff Project. You can see it here. It gives a brief overview of the way in which the assumption of corporate personhood adversely affects the function of our democracy. As usual, it’s the link between money and political power that creates the problem. But in this case it’s a huge amount of money with a very narrow mission that is quite often at odds with the common good. And the solution is a constitutional amendment. The class is invited to discuss this issue and learn about the process of amending the constitution. They are also made aware of the amendment effort being made by the WAMEND coalition and Washington Public Campaigns.
If you have a connection to a high school civics class and would like to have a speaker visit the class, please let us know by email at email@example.com. Let us know also if you would like to become a speaker for this type of event.
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Newsletter #5 – October 2013
Oct News About Public Financing & Election Reforms
Waiting for the Next Shoe to Drop
The US Supreme Court is set to unleash even more money in to politics! On Oct. 8 the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, a case challenging the 2-year limit on total contributions to all candidates and party committees by a single donor. A decision by the Court to abolish the limit threatens a massive increase in the flow of money directly to candidates and parties. Do we want a democracy or a plutocarcy – more than we already have?
To express our support for maintaining the FEC limits on excessive contributions, WPC is joining the organizer, WashPIRG, and other WAmend coalition members at a demonstration, Wednesday, October 8, at noon on the steps of the US District Courthouse, 700 Stewart Street in downtown Seattle. Join the rally to push back on unlimited contributions in federal campaigns.
WPC board member and attorney, Evelyn McChesney, has written an article explaining the details of the case. Read More, You can also go here.after October 8 to listen to the oral arguments. Back to top
Care About Getting Money Out of Politics?
Support Fair Elections Seattle – with your contribution – with your time.
WPC is supporting Proposition 1, which can be a model for public financing of campaigns in other jurisdictions. It’s the best chance supporters of voter-owned elections in Washington State and elsewhere have of passing an immediate solution to the influence of money on politics.
Funny thing, people with lots of money are not contributing to this campaign, so we’re depending upon you and our many endorsers to get the word out about Proposition 1. You can help by phoning Seattle voters (we will get a list and script to you), tabling at Seattle gathering places, doorbelling and/or giving a small (or large) contribution to the campaign. We need your help now. Please go here to volunteer and donate. Read More about Prop 1.
In Anticipation of an Initiative
WAmend, the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution is on the move. A strategy to identify signature gatherers has been put in place so that the gathering of signatures by volunteers beginning in January will be successful. WPC along with a growing number of coalition organizations (currently 26) wants Washington State to be the next state to urge Congress to pass a constitutional amendment clarifying that corporations are not natural people and money is not speech Did I hear you say Duh! Unless the majority on the Supreme Court changes, the only recourse is to change the Constitution to reverse the rulings of the Court in decisions such as Citizens United V. FEC.
WE CAN DO IT! Reversing bad Supreme Court rulings has been done seven times before and passing an amendment has been done in short order – the most recent one in a little more than four months. Please sign up on the WAmend website to volunteer to recruit signature gatherers.
WPC’s Pierce County Chapter recently held an organizing meeting to build a coalition of organizations to recruit signature gatherers and raise funds to support the initiative effort. As one participant said, “Failure is not an option.” It was clear from the energy in the room they understand that our democracy is at stake. If you are interested in organizing a similar effort in your legislative district or community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Read More about the initiative.
Amendment Resolutions Introduced in Congress
WPC Executive Director, Alice Woldt, and US Rep. Jim McGovern (MA) discuss Joint Resolutions he’s sponsored at a meeting in Washington, D.C. this year.
An overview of the joint resolutions in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that call for a Constitutional Amendment clarifying that corporations are not considered natural persons or that political campaign contributions do not constitute political speech is provided HERE. There are currently ten proposed House joint resolutions and four Senate joint resolutions that address these issues. In the House of Represenatives, two joint resolutions have the support of more than 45 cosponsors – HJR 25 and HJR 34. In the Senate, only SJR 19 has garnered the support of more than two cosponsors.
It is noteworthy that none of these joint resolutions was sponsored by a Republican legislator and only one resolution, HJR 21, was co-sponsored by a Republican, Congressman Walter Jones, 3rd District, North Carolina.
We also note that none of the resolutions in the House were sponsored by a representative from Washington State, and none of the four Senate joint resolutions was sponsored or co-sponsored by a senator from Washington State. However, Representative Jim McDermott is a co-sponsor for three of the most popular joint resolutions in the House of Representatives – HJR 20, HJR 21 and HJR 25. Lastly, HJR 34 is co-sponsored by Washington State representatives Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer and Rick Larsen. Read More
We Need You!
Please consider becoming a sustaining donor of Washington Public Campaigns by making a $5, $10, $15 (or more) monthly donation to support our education and outreach efforts. It’s safe, it’s secure, and it’s EASY. More importantly, it enables us to continue working for public financing of election campaigns to give power back to the average citizen and invigorate democracy. We know you have many options for donations to good causes. We believe this is the cause that makes other reforms possible. Just go to the WPC Donate webpage and enter your contribution.
They Have Plenty of Time Right Now, but is Anyone Buying?
With the government shut down, the U.S. House and Senate should have plenty of time to practice the tips House Freshmen were given following last November’s elections . Following is a quote from a recent New York Times article, titled “For House Freshmen, Panel Offers Seats of Plenty”. “After the elections in November, Democratic Party leaders gave a PowerPoint presentation urging their freshman members to spend as much as four hours a day making fund-raising calls while in Washington, and an additional hour of “strategic outreach” holding breakfasts or “meet and greets” with possible financial supporters. That adds up to more time than these first-term lawmakers were advised to spend on Congressional business.”
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Newsletter #4 – August 2013
Should this ballot measure be approved? Washington Public Campaigns says YES!
The City of Seattle’s Proposition 1 concerns creation of a system of publicly financed council election campaigns.
If approved, this proposition would publicly fund campaigns for Seattle City Council. Candidates who raise 600 individual contributions of at least $10 qualify for the program. Contributions up to $50 to qualifying candidates are matched 6 public dollars for every dollar, up to $210,000. Participating candidates may only spend $140,000 in the primary and $245,000 overall, except when an opponent spends more. Approval authorizes six years of additional property taxes, with $2,000,000 (approximately $0.0164/$1000 assessed value) collected in 2014.
Help Fair Elections Seattle raise 600 donations by September 1. Sign up to donate and volunteer HERE.
What is WAmend?
WAmend is growing and picking up steam. The statewide coalition of more than 25 activist organizations, of which WPC is a member, will attempt to collect more than 325,000 signatures on a petition to get an initiative on the November 2014 state ballot, using only volunteers to get the signatures.
The initiative will call for an amendment to the US Constitution clarifying that money donated to political campaigns is not a form of free speech, that donations must be regulated and transparent, and that “artificial entities” (like corporations) do not enjoy the same free speech rights as natural persons. Voters in Colorado and Montana and legislators in 14 other states (the most recent being Oregon) have agreed to support an amendment like this.
The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, followed closely by the Speech Now decision, opened the floodgates for unlimited, anonymous campaign donations by corporations, “Superpacs,” and wealthy individuals. A record amount of money was spent on the 2012 election, more than $6 billion. These special interests drowned out the voices of modest voters like most of us, and their influence on Congress and in the state legislatures is undeniable.
If you have passion, time, and/or a bit of money, go to wamend.org, click on Get Involved, and sign up to help. The signature-gathering window is only from January to June, 2014, so now is the time to help WAmend get up to speed for the big push.
Volunteer Help Wanted:
Website content support
WPC is looking for a part-time addition to our outstanding WPC volunteer website team to upload content to WordPress! Our ideal candidate must have strong attention to detail. Experience posting and producing a quality product on time is required. Understanding of WPC’s mission is a plus. Email to:email@example.com.
Dark Money in Washington Elections
In Washington State, all donors to state campaigns, and all donors to independent committees engaged in state campaign activity are supposed to be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission and made available on the PDC website.
WPC supporter Mike Ruby studied the PDC records available for the 26th District Senate race between Nathan Schlicher and Janice Angel and found that there are serious gaps in the legally required disclosure. Some independent committees are not disclosing their donors. Click HERE to read Mike’s report. What can be done about this?
We are enamored with our monthly donors!
They are the brightest and sharpest people we know. They know the value of every dollar they donate each month in support of WPC’s mission. Would you like to receive our absolute and sincere awe and appreciation?
Become a sustaining member of WPC, with a $10 a month donation. “You rock!” That’s just a small sample of the enduring esteem with which you will be held, in perpetuity by us, when you join our remarkable group of monthly donors to WPC, at: http://www.washclean.org/wpc/donate/
Super PACs Uber Alles
Our politics has devolved into a “Game of Thrones” conducted by an aristocracy of wealth on both sides. A dark cloud of money now suffocates political discourse. The primary vehicle for wealthy donors is the “Super PAC”, an entity allowed recently that can spend unlimited amounts of money in elections without revealing the donors, as long as the actions are not coordinated with the candidates’ campaigns.
Starting from 83 Super PACs spending $63 million in 2010, by 2012 the country had 1,310 PACs raising $828 million and spending $609 million. Ninety percent of the money came from just 3,319 people giving $10,000 or more.
This situation is reminiscent of bad old days when big donors would deliver suitcases of cash to operatives working for the candidate. Only now the operatives need to resign from the candidate’s campaign until the election is over.
The journalist Andy Kroll discusses this in depth HERE.
S.E.C. Is Asked to Require Disclosure of Donations
The Securities Exchange Commission has been flooded with calls in support of a petition to require publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations. Despite the strong positive public support, the S.E.C is not required to do rulemaking on petitions received from outside groups, as this petition was. Several S.E.C. Commissioners have shown interest in this petition, but so far, they have taken no action to issue regulations.
Opposing business groups are aggressively seeking to block any S.E.C. action. Vociferous and sustained public backing, however, may persuade the S.E.C. to undertake rule making in this important area.
“Shareholders have been demanding this information for some time” said Robert J. Jackson Jr., a law professor at Columbia University who helped write the original petition to the S.E.C. “It’s a basic precept of American securities law that shareholders should be given the information they need to evaluate their companies.” See this NYT article (4/23/13) for his comments and issues surrounding the appeal to the S.E.C. Send an email in support of the petition to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this Subject Line: Comment Re: 4-637.
Democracy, Inc.: A book review
Isn’t America still a democracy? Where was the coup or takeover of power? Could it have happened while we were diverted by Reality TV and the consumer culture?
Could democracy itself be a more efficient means of controlling a population than the torture chambers and gulags we typically associate with tyranny? Has democracy in the United States of America effectively become an invisible tyranny through which an unseen elite rule a citizenry distracted by mock issues and placated by a meaningless electoral process? “Democracy, Inc., ….Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism,” by Sheldon S. Wolin, asks and answers these questions, offering an abundance of new information and interesting twists of the common wisdom along the way. This book, more than any other I have read of late, will challenge your concepts of the system in which we live. It is loaded with thought provoking questions, quotable lines and beautifully stated ideas. If you have the distinct feeling that there is more to the problems confronting American politics than meets the eye, this book will greatly enhance your understanding.
It is not light reading. Nor is its message reassuring. But if there is to be any possibility that we Americans can achieve a government that comes closer to our ideal of democracy we must first understand how and why the government we have is so completely failing that ideal.
Reviewer: Ken Dammand, WPC President
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Newsletter #3 – June 2013
Equal Opportunity Elections on Seattle’s November Ballot?
Seattle City Council is getting closer to adopting legislation and ballot language that would give Seattle voters an opportunity to vote on public financing of City Council campaigns this November. The referendum would reinstate publicly funded campaigns, which were available to candidates in 1979 and the early eighties, but ended when Initiative 134 passed and the little known sentence or two in the initiative prohibited public financing of campaigns. WPC is working to get the strongest possible referendum on the ballot.
A campaign launch is planned for June 24 by the Fair Elections Seattle Campaign Committee. Go to fairelectionsseattle.org to find out more about the campaign, endorsers and to contribute. A special invitation to support the campaign is forthcoming from WPC.
Since our last newsletter two more states, Illinois and Delaware, have joined twelve others calling for a constitutional amendment. Following is information about one of the proposed amendments:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt .) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) have introduced a constitutional amendment proposal “Democracy is for People.” in the current Congress. While there are eleven other similar amendments introduced, this one by Sanders and Deutch has received praise from others devoted to restoring democracy to the people rather than to wealthy corporations, billionaires and dark money.
Public Citizen has wholeheartedly endorsed the “Democracy is for People” Amendment. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said the “Amendment would eliminate unaccountable corporate spending in our elections. Democracy is rule by the people, after all, not rule by Goldman Sachs, Walmart or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” More………
Make It Easy on Yourself
I recently asked one of our monthly donors “Why are you a monthly WPC donor?” His answer: “So I don’t have to remember to give!” Bingo! Donors love monthly giving, because once they decide to be a steady supporter of WPC, they appreciate the convenience of monthly giving and the idea of providing dependable support to WPC’s work and mission. Believe me, it’s so much easier than trying to remember when you’ve sent a check or made an on-line donation. If you have any questions about how the WPC monthly giving program works, email me at: email@example.com. As a WPC fundraising volunteer, and a monthly donor, I’ll be happy to chat with you! Or, sign up now!
Washington Public Campaigns Calls on You to Help Amend the Constitution
Legal scholars can put forth complex theories about the intentions of the Founding Fathers but the real meaning of democracy is carried in the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens who believe that the measure of a democracy is that its policies serve the common good.
………………….The plan is to have the initiative appear on the state ballot in the fall of 2014. This means spending this summer and fall letting the public know about the effort, getting a commitment from thousands of signature gatherers and raising funds to promote the initiative. To read the entire article by Ken Dammand, recently elected president of WPC, click here.
The Real IRS Scandal
Even President Obama has expressed “anger” over the supposed IRS targeting of Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status under the section 501(c)(4) exemption for “social welfare” organizations. However, as explained by Brad Friedman on his blog (see http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10021), the IRS Inspector General has found that the IRS actions were merely poorly executed bureaucratic responses to a situation in which the IRS was overwhelmed by applications by groups seeking 501(c)(4) status. Can anyone really doubt that those groups did not deserve rigorous review to determine whether they are truly “social welfare” organizations? This is all thanks to the rise of Super PACs sanctioned by recent Supreme Court rulings. The real scandal is that freedom of speech and tax exemption for social welfare have been turned into a license for unfettered political corruption.
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Newsletter #2 April 2013
Constitutional Amendment Memorial Dead This Session
Bills calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to the states giving the states and Congress authority to regulate campaign contributions are dead in this session of the state legislature. Neither HJM 4001, passed by the House. or SJM 8002 were called for a vote in the Republican controlled Senate Governmental Relations Committee. See status of other bills supported by Washington Public Campaigns HERE.
Public Financing Advances in Seattle
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) has forwarded a proposal for public financing of campaigns for city council elections to the Seattle City Council. Washington Public Campaigns is actively supporting Fair Elections Seattle, the public financing campaign committee, and has been participating in the SEEC meetings. Look for an opportunity to help WPC meet a fundraising challenge to support the campaign soon. WPC supporters are encouraged to attend upcoming City Council meetings, which will begin considering public financing on Monday, April 29. See SEEC Proposal HERE.
Big Money vs. Small Money
Big money in politics has a competitor—small money in politics. So says Jonathan Alter, a Bloomberg View columnist recently quoted in the Tacoma News. WPC agrees. Once a small donor has a little skin in the game—say, a $10 a month recurring donation—you’re part of the solution. Go to the WPC website, to see how easy we’ve made it for you to safely and securely sign up as a small monthly donor—or a one-time donor. As 100 or 1,000 of us NW citizens make our small, but steady donations, we build the movement that loosens the stranglehold of big money on our political system. As Jonathan Alter said,
“Power to the pea shooters!”
The ultimate form of “unclean” elections are elections whose outcomes are changed by failure or fraud in the counting of votes. There have been many instances of suspicious election outcomes in the last dozen years, but with no definite proof of fraud. For example, in a Congressional race in Sarasota Florida in 2006, 18,000 votes simply “disappeared” and no explanation has ever been provided any authority.
Now, for the first time, definite evidence of attempted election fraud has been uncovered and was extensively reported last month regarding the 2012 primary election in Dade County Florida. Read More
Pull Back the Corporate Curtain
WPC encurages you to contact the Securities and Exchange Commission to request issuing rules requiring disclosure of political spending by publicly traded corporations. The effort has gained momentum and there are close to 500,000 comments that have been submitted to the SEC. You can add your comments by accessing this letter on the People for the American Way website. Read More
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Newsletter #1 February 2013
Welcome to the first edition of Washington Public Campaign’s newsletter. Our newsletter volunteers will keep you informed of the latest happenings on issues related to fair and clean campaigns and elections. They are on the lookout for interesting and informative articles and contributing writers. Let us know if you are interested.
Washington Public Campaign’s 2013 Priorities
WPC’s mission reads: Washington Public Campaigns promotes democracy by ensuring that election results and government policies reflect the will of the people and not the power of money. In line with our mission, the board of directors approved the following legislative priorities for 2013:
Local: Promote Seattle City Council public financing of city elections.
State: Advocate for a state legislative resolution for a U.S. constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and its progeny and permit legislative regulation of all political spending.
Federal: Direct advocacy in Congress for a U.S. constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and its progeny and permit legislative regulation of all political spending.
Also, organize support for American Anti-Corruption Act.
These issues will be covered in the newsletter as well as in advocacy alerts as action is needed.
What’s in a Name?
It can be the power to engage and inform.
Are your friends puzzled by just what it is you are supporting when you say “Washington Public Campaigns”?
Could we do better attracting the attention of the citizenry with a different name for our organization?
Please give it some thought and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll be collecting all submissions for serious consideration.
WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD?
Can you afford $5 a month to build our movement to save our democracy from the corrupting p;ower of big money?
That’s 16 cents a day. I’m contributing $25 a month. That’s still only 83 cents a day. That buys me peace of mind, because I know I’m helping to provide Washington Public Campaigns with a sustainable base for the long haul.
WPC is working on my behalf to insure the voice of each citizen is heard. That’s the very foundation of our democracy.
Please visit http://www.washclean.org/wpc/donate/ where we are set up to securely manage your monthly donation, no matter how small or large.
Your monthly or one-time donation matters. – A lot!
Debbie Livingstone, WPC Volunteer Fundraiser
Update on Joint Memorials 4001 & 8002
HJM 4001 and SJM 8002, memorials to Congress urging consideraqtion and passage of a constitutional amendment that would overturn the effects of Citizens United have been heard by committees in both the state house and senate. The house committee is scheduled to vote on February 20. If the legislation is voted out of committee it will head to the Rules Committee. Be sure to register your comments.
Forums on Public Financing Held
Seattle City Council has recently held two forums on public funding of campaigns. WPC is encouraged that there is support on the Council and in the community for public financing of Seattle’s campaigns. The first forum included representatives from cities with public financing experience. The presenters at the second forum were two academics who have done research on public campaigns, primarily at the state level. You can view the video of both forums here.
The Ultimate Gerrymander
Recently, Republicans in several swing states have proposed to “rig” the Electoral College by allocating Electoral College votes by Congressional district, rather than the current “winner take all” method used in all states except Maine and Nebraska. If such a policy had been in place in six swing states in the last election, Mitt Romney would now be the President of the United States. WPC member Mike Ruby has written an article about this situation that you can read here. Also, a recent article in the Washington Post on why this “Ultimate Gerrymander” will probably not be pursued can be read here.
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