What’s Next for Fix Democracy First – formerly WPC

Newsletter #10,  August 2014

Initiative 1329 Fails Getting Enough Signatures to Qualify for Fall Ballot

by Alice Woldt

WAmend, the statewide coalition supporting a constitutional amendment, failed to reach the magic number of signatures to qualify Initiative 1329 for the November ballot. Washington would have been the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment. I-1329 called upon Congress to pass an amendment clarifying that money is not speech and corporations do not have the constitutional rights of humans..

Though a valiant effort by an all volunteer army of almost 2,000 volunteers, the 174,000 signatures fell short of the approximately 300,000 signatures needed to insure 247,000 unduplicated, certifiable registered voter signatures. Thanks to the many FDF supporters who gave time and money to the I-1329 effort.

WAmend has held a retreat and a steering committee meeting since the July 3rd deadline for turning in signatures. Future plans may include another initiative – this time to the legislature. It would be filed in March with the deadline for signature gathering in December, 2015.

Fix Democracy First! will continue to lobby the legislature to support a memorial to Congress urging passage of a constitutional amendment. See the next article for the next steps on this.

Amazing Progress on Amendment and Next Steps for FDF

By Evelyn McChesney

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are working on a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and its progeny!

The Senate has voted SJR 19 out of the Judiciary Committee with 50 co-sponsors, including our own Senators Maria Cantwell, and Patty Murray!  HALF of the Senators now support it!  Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote in the Senate on September 8, the day the Senate reconvenes after the August recess.

The House has referred HJR 119, the companion resolution with the same wording as SJR 19, to the House Judiciary Committee.   It already has 117 co-sponsors, including six of our US House members: Susan Del Bene, D 1, Rick Larson, D 2, Derek Kilmer D 6, Jim McDermott, D 7, Adam Smith, D 9, and Denny Heck, D 10!  Susan Del Bene sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and we will work with her to get a majority of the Judiciary Committee to vote yes on HJR 119 – the Democracy for All Amendment.

We know the Senate is not likely to get the 60 votes to pass SJR 19 in September, nor the two/thirds vote to call for an amendment, but this is incredible progress in a very short time and it indicates that a constitutional amendment will be passed.

Will you help? The FDF board has made SJR 19 a priority to support. Will you ask your state legislators and candidates to support SJR 19 language? We are looking for legislative coordinators in every district to help organize FDF’s lobbying effort. Contact alice@washclean.org if you can help.

Click here for the text of the Resolution (4 sentences), and a link to it’s always most-current status. 

Join Yes! Magazine and Thom Hartmann at Town Hall

Get your tickets for YES! Magazine’s 4th annual celebration and fundraiser at Seattle’s Town Hall. On September 12th, New York Times best-selling author and radio host Thom Hartmann will be on stage with YES! editor in chief Sarah van Gelder to talk about “Money, Politics, and Saving our Democracy.”  Author of 24 books in 17 languages, Hartmann’s latest book is The Crash of 2016. Buy your tickets here. Fix Democracy First is a community partner with YES! for this event.

Long Time Board Members Retire

by Alice Woldt

FDF is grateful for the service of two retiring board members, William (Bill) Nerin and Elizabeth (Betty) Ogden. Bill served on the initial board that incorporated Washington Public Camnpaigns in 2003. Betty, who formerly served as chair of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chapter of WPC, was awarded outstanding volunteer of the year by WPC in 2009. Both Bill and Betty have been active members of the WPC board and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chapter. Thank you Bill and Betty for your incredible commitment to fixing our democracy.

Money in Politics:  A Question of Equal Representation and Democracy

by Ken Dammand

Democracy cannot survive when money is directly exchangeable for political influence. We long ago acknowledged this when we forbade direct payments to politicians in return for favors.  But we have failed to acknowledge that allowing unlimited contributions to political campaigns and unrestricted “independent” expenditures on behalf of candidates has exactly the same effect.

And because the aggregation of individual wealth in the U.S. is almost exclusively the result of corporate activity, the large and therefore influential expenditures almost always promote legislation favorable to corporations….  Read More, on our page dedicated to this article.

A SuperPAC to end SuperPACs

by Phil Harrison

Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig has founded an ambitious national program to get money out of politics by creating a SuperPAC to end SuperPACs. The strategy of MaydayPAC is to run independent campaigns in support of candidates who have pledged to reform the election system by legislation and/or Constitutional amendment.

In its first month, MaydayPAC raised $1 million in small donations through its web site, to be matched by a number of large donors.  In the second month, the PAC raised $5 million, also to be matched.  MaydayPAC now plans to campaign in eight House and Senate races this year .

If shown to be effective, the PAC will pull out all stops and go for massive intervention in the 2016 campaign by aggressive fund raising over the next two years. The candidates receiving support include both Democrats and Republicans who have pledged to reform our corrupt politics of money. You can follow the action at https://mayday.us