Bipartisan Leaders Call on NH House to End Endless Spending in Elections
House committee voted Tuesday to refer to interim study SB 136
Concord, NH - A group of New Hampshire leaders from both political parties is calling on state lawmakers to put an end to endless spending by billionaires and special interest groups in elections, a practice it believes is undermining American democracy.
The NH House Legislative Administration Committee voted 7-3 on Tuesday to refer to interim study SB 136, the bipartisan bill affirming the need to overturn Citizens United and examining the effects of unlimited spending on New Hampshire elections. The vote effectively blocks SB 136 from further action until 2017 unless the full House rejects the committee's recommendation and passes the bill when it comes to a vote in January.
While proponents had hoped to receive full support from the committee, the "Interim Study" vote from representatives previously hostile to the measure demonstrates the growing public demand to get money out of politics and leaves the door open to future action. The latest October 2015 Bloomberg poll found that 78 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Republicans want to overturn Citizens United, while only 17 percent support for the ruling. In March, the State Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent.
"Citizens United has been an all-out disaster for democracy," said Betty Tamposi, former Assistant Secretary of State under President Bush and an Open Democracy Advisor. "We teach our kids that the size of your wallet shouldn't determine your standing as a citizen, but thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court and an intransigent Congress, the opposite is true today. We call on the full House to undue the committee recommendation and instruct Congress to overturn Citizens United by passing SB 136 in January."
"There is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections," added John Broderick, the former Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court and an Open Democracy Advisor. "Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people."
Tamposi, Broderick, and ten other New Hampshire leaders from across the political spectrum are part of Open Democracy, the nonpartisan nonprofit founded by legendary reformer Doris "Granny D" Haddock in 2009. Open Democracy and allied groups have campaigned actively to translate public anger over money-in-politics corruption into positive action for reform, with a special focus on the 2016 presidential primary currently under way. As a result of their efforts, 69 New Hampshire towns have passed warrant articles at town meeting calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and some 12,000 Granite Staters have echoed the call through petitions.
In January 2014 and 2015, hundreds of concerned citizens marched over 200 miles in frigid temperatures across the state to protest big money corruption as part of Open Democracy's NH Rebellion campaign. The Rebellion has led more than a dozen walks and logged 30,000 miles throughout New Hampshire since 2014, with an eye to making money in politics reform the leading issue in the upcoming presidential election. Over 500 citizens rebels have volunteered to question the presidential candidates about reform; the resulting candidate statements and videos are publicly available at www.Questionr.us.
"Recommending interim study is a tacit acknowlegdment of the hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire citizens who want reform, but it is not enough" said Dan Weeks, executive director of Open Democracy and leader of the NH Rebellion. "Our representatives should not hide behind legislative delay tactics – they should take action now to stop the corrupting influence of big money in politics. We hope to see the New Hampshire House reject the committee's recommendation in January, and listen instead to the voices of their constituents."
Our supporter Wayne wrote a letter to the editor that was simply too good not to share, so here it is:Read more
One day after the presidential candidates completed their latest fundraising frenzy ahead of Wednesday’s third-quarter reporting deadline, Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley released a plan to “get big money out of politics” and turn current fundraising practices on their head. The plan was welcomed by the nonpartisan NH Rebellion and reform groups nationwide.
Under Governor O’Malley’s“Restoring Our American Democracy” plan, ordinary citizens would be empowered to fund congressional campaigns in lieu of wealthy interests through a $25 refundable tax credit on small donations. Donations would then be matched on a multiple basis for qualifying candidates and candidates would be forced to abide by strict contribution limits. The plan also calls for disclosure of secret election spending by special interest groups; a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision; an overhaul of the Federal Election to ensure enforcement of election law and non-coordination between candidates and Super PACs; and a new constitutional right to vote free from discriminatory voting laws. The plan embraces many of the reform proposals put forward by NH Rebellion and other groups, although it omits citizen-funding of presidential elections.
“Voters of all stripes are disgusted by the way big money is dominating our democracy,” said Dan Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy and leader of the NH Rebellion. “This plan is a direct assault on those big money interests that have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to buy the presidential election. We applaud Gov. O’Malley for tackling the problem of big money corruption head-on with a plan that can help restore the basic American promise of an equal voice for all.”Read more
We know that not everyone has the stamina – and good knees – to Walk the Talk across New Hampshire. As we get closer to the NH Primary, we need legions of Armchair Rebels to TAKE ACTION if we are going to end Big Money politics!
Each week, we'll ask you to take a different action. We may ask you to write a letter to the editor, give the campaigns a piece of your mind, or call your representatives and demand action. We may ask you to collect signatures for our town warrant initiative or tweet up a storm. Whatever the action, we promise to keep it easy, relevant, and fun.
ACTION OF THE WEEK: Demand the FEC enforce the law!
We are getting reports that Big Money interests are blurring the lines on campaign-SuperPAC coordination. This piece by NH Public Radio's Emily Corwin, "Pro-Fiorina Super PAC Tests Boundaries in Campaign Ground Game," gives a prime example of the suspect activity happening on the NH Primary campaign trail.
We need you to write a letter to the Federal Election Commission and raise hell. Why are campaigns and Big Money interests allowed to engage in this collusion? Why have candidates filmed advertising with their Super PACs? The FEC needs to enforce the existing law!
Write a short letter to:
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463
You can even multiply your impact six-fold by addressing a copy of your letter to each of the six Commissioners at the same address: Chair Ann Ravel, Vice Chair Matthew Petersen, Lee Goodman, Caroline Hunter, Steven Walther, and Ellen Weintraub.
Do you have ideas about how you can help as an Armchair Rebel? We want to hear your ideas!
Brian and the NH Rebellion team
PS. Not content to sit in your armchair? Local Rebels are invited to attend a monthly NH Rebellion strategy meeting with the various reform groups next Thursday at 12:30pm and on the first Thursday of every month. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Thank you to the 1,534 NH Rebellion Rebels who joined Stephen Colbert and signed our petition to Pope Francis ahead of his address to Congress yesterday. We asked the Pope to speak out, as he has before in Argentina, on the corruption of money in politics and the moral imperative of developing a representative system.
The Pope did not disappoint: "You [Congress] are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you… I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity… If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance."
Strong words from Pope Francis, and we hope to see strong actions from the congresspeople and candidates whom he addressed. Thanks for liking, tweeting, and sharing your support, allowing us to vault this issue into the international spotlight provided by the Pope's visit.
When Pope Francis speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, there are many worthy issues he could discuss: Poverty, income inequality, affordable healthcare or other social ills. But when comedian and political satirist Stephen Colbert was asked what single message the Pope should bring to Congress, Colbert suggested an issue that interferes with legislation to fix many of those social issues.
"The corrupting influence of money in politics because it reinforces not looking out for the poorest or the least of my brothers," Colbert, arguably one of America's most famous Catholics, said in the recent interview with a syndicated Canadian Catholic news program, Connect5. He continued, "I think that's the one they need to hear the most because until you can control the money, you won't control the message of Congress…you won't get action from Congress that looks out for average people," he said. Colbert famously demonstrated on his previous Comedy Central show, the Colbert Report, how SuperPacs are allowed to cloak their donors and coordinate with campaigns by starting a political action committee himself.
One day after the unofficial Labor Day kickoff to the 2016 Presidential campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the first declared candidate to issue a detailed campaign finance reform agenda. The Clinton plan to "Restore Integrity to American Elections" was welcomed by the nonpartisan NH Rebellion and likeminded groups nationwide.
In a statement, the Clinton campaign said, “Hillary Clinton has made revitalization of our democracy a key pillar of her campaign. She will fight to ensure that our democracy works for everyday Americans and leads to government of, by, and for the people, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”Read more
NH Rebellion's parent organization, Open Democracy, is hiring people to join our team, either full-time or part time. If you want to help save our democracy, check out the full job postings at http://www.opendemocracy.me/hiring.
Last weekend, a small but determined group of NHR supporters tackled Mt. Liberty as part of the Vertical Granny D program. In addition to walking the talk, we're spreading the word around the state: check out the following letter to the editor written by Wayne Merrit:Read more