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About Liz Iacobucci

Liz Iacobucci is the former Public Information Officer for the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984. Over the past three decades, she has served in government at the federal, state and municipal levels; and she has worked for both Democratic and Republican politicians.

Why You Should Care about Stock Buybacks – in 3 Charts

top corporate tax rate 1945 - 2013For decades, we’ve been letting the GOP tell us that corporate tax cuts could somehow fix our economy and balance the budget.

Turns out: corporations have been using that extra money to buy back their own stock, instead of creating jobs.

Last year, corporations in the S&P 500 index spent a combined $564 billion on stock buybacks.  That’s more than 3.1% of the entire US Gross Domestic Product for 2014.  Spent NOT on job creation… not on deficit reduction… but instead, spent on consolidating corporate ownership.

For decades, the political rhetoric about “cutting taxes for job creators” has been both accepted and effective.

But back when our country had a thriving Middle Class, corporations had top tax rates in the 50% range.

share of income taxes 1945-2014But as corporate tax rates began to fall, total federal income tax revenues began to fall – and the share of taxes paid by individuals began to grow.

And we all waited for corporations to spend their extra money on job creation.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And somebody convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to create its “Safe Harbor Rule” in 1982 – enabling corporations to buy back their own stock without fear of federal prosecution.

And under the radar, that’s exactly what corporations started doing.  And I DO mean “under the radar.”  Nobody knows exactly how much money US corporations have been spending on stock buybacks.  Buybacks are tracked for the S&P 500 – which are the numbers I’ve used here –but not for all the other corporations that do business in our country.  Even the SEC doesn’t keep statistics on overall stock buybacks.

But let’s take a minute to pretend.

Let’s pretend that our corporate tax rates weren’t so low (and there weren’t so many loopholes), and that the SEC’s “Safe Harbor Rule” had been repealed.

2014 share of federal income taxesLet’s pretend that all the money (the S&P 500) spent on stock buybacks had been paid as corporate taxes, instead.

Here’s what that would have done, to the share of federal income taxes paid by individuals in 2014.

Yep.  THAT’s why you should care about stock buybacks.

They’re coming out of your pockets, in the form of higher taxes.

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Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

Read Marketwatch, “Wall Street’s new drug is the stock buyback” here.

Dear Candidate Clinton: Disclosure isn’t enough

SOLD flagKudos to Hillary Clinton for making stock buybacks into an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Most Americans don’t realize just how much money corporations spend buying back their own stock, rather than creating jobs.  It’s probably the biggest, ugliest secret of our troubled economy.

But Candidate Clinton doesn’t go far enough.

Her speech yesterday called for more-timely disclosure of buybacks. But just like with #MoneyInPolitics, public disclosure isn’t going to fix the problem.  We need to restore the laws that used to protect us, back when we had a Middle Class.

Disclosure hasn’t solved the problem of our politicians being bought by corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  Everybody knows that the Koch Brothers plan to spend almost a billion dollars buying themselves a president in 2016.  They announced it in the press.  They’re proud of it.  Disclosure isn’t stopping them.  Ever since they made the announcement, they’ve had a steady stream of sycophantic candidates “interviewing” with them, seeking their support.

Anyone who’s watching Big Oil knows that the industry has been busy buying politicians.  Starting with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, Jim Inhofe.  Disclosure hasn’t made a difference.  He’s proud of the money he gets from Big Oil: “Whenever the media asked me how much I have received in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, my unapologetic answer was ‘not enough’.”

Disclosure hasn’t fixed the problem of #MoneyInPolitics.  And it’s not going to fix the problem of stock buybacks, either.

WWYD_707_billionBefore the Securities and Exchange Commission created its “Safe Harbor Rule” in 1982, stock buybacks were almost unheard-of.  Now, they’re one of the top priorities of corporate executives.  Last year, corporations spent more than $556 billion buying back their own stock.  This year, they’re expected to spend $707 billion.

The ugly secret of our “trickle-down” economy: corporations are spending enormous amounts of money consolidating their ownership.   Rather than, say, expanding their businesses, hiring new employees or even paying existing employees a living wage.

(Can’t help but notice the trend of corporations focused on stock buybacks, while their employees need public assistance programs to make ends meet.  WalmartMcDonaldsBig Banks.)

Disclosure isn’t going to solve this.  Corporations are proud of their buyback programs.  They announce buybacks in press releases.

Just like the Koch Brothers used the press to announce their intention to buy a president.

Somebody needs to tell Secretary Clinton: the SEC’s 1982 “Safe Harbor Rule” is the regulatory equivalent of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  It enables corporations to do things that are really, really bad for our country.

But unlike Citizens United, the “Safe Harbor Rule” is an administrative regulation. It can be changed or repealed by the administrative agency.

And SEC members are appointed by the President.

Clinton could be pledging to only appoint SEC Commissioners who will repeal the rule.  Instead, she’s just looking for more disclosure.

Clinton deserves a whole lot of credit for raising the issue, and for talking about the impact that stock buybacks are having on our economy.

But it would be even better if she would go one step further, and talk about a solution that would actually fix the problem.

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Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

Read Marketwatch, “Wall Street’s new drug is the stock buyback” here.

NH CD1 Primary — Look Who’s Supporting Guinta

Rep. Frank Guinta

Rep. Frank Guinta

No surprise: in the wake of Rep. Frank Guinta’s agreement to pay a fine for federal election law violations, Dan Innis is expected to run for Congress again.

Party officials are supposed to stay neutral until after primary elections. At least that’s the way it used to be, back when politics was still about parties – and not about money.

But look at Frank Guinta’s first quarter FEC report. Looks like House GOP leadership has already staked out a position in this election.

  • Friends of [House Speaker] John Boehner: $2,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary election, another $2,000 for the 2016 general election – both contributions given on March 20, 2015.
  • The Freedom Project, John Boehner’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary, another $5,000 for the general election – both contributions given on March 20, 2015.
  • [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy for Congress campaign committee: $2,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary election, another $2,000 for the 2016 general election – both contributions given on March 26, 2015.
  • Majority Committee PAC, Kevin McCarthy’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution to Guinta for the 2016 primary, another $5,000 for the general election – both contributions given on March 26, 2015.
  • [House Majority Whip Steve] Scalise for Congress campaign committee: $2,000 contribution for the 2016 general election – given on March 27, 2015.
  • Eye of the Tiger PAC, Steve Scalise’s Leadership PAC: $5,000 contribution for the 2016 primary election – given on March 27, 2015.
  • CMR PAC, the Leadership PAC of House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers: $2,500 for the 2016 primary election – given on March 31, 2015.
  • [Republican Policy Committee Chairman] Luke Messer for Congress campaign: $1,000 contribution for the 2016 primary – given on March 31, 2015.
  • Prosperity Action PAC, the Leadership PAC of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $5,000 for the 2016 primary election – given on March 26, 2015.

It was unanimous. Not a single member of House GOP Leadership failed to make a contribution to Frank Guinta – directly, through their PAC, or both – during the weeks immediately before Guinta agreed to pay his fine to the FEC. Contributions not just for the 2016 general election, but also for the 2016 primary – when Guinta would, presumably, be running against another Republican.

Gotta wonder how former NHGOP Finance Chair Dan Innis feels, about the fact that the entire House GOP Leadership has already contributed to his opponent in the race.

Read an insider’s take on Guinta’s Q1 fundraising here.

Read more about Guinta’s agreement with the FEC here.

Stamp Stampede Marching July 4th to #GetMoneyOut of Politics

2015-04-18 statelineThe anti-corruption group The Stamp Stampede will join presidential candidates and citizens celebrating Independence Day at parades in Amherst and Merrimack, and will also appear at a NH Rebellion rally in Portsmouth.

The Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency.  About 1,000 of those Stampers live in New Hampshire.   More than 130 Granite State small businesses host “Stamping Stations” where customers can learn more about the issue of #MoneyInPolitics, can stamp their money and can get their own stamp.  Stamp messages include “Corporations are Not People – Amend the Constitution,” “Stamp Money out of Politics,” and “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians.”  Every stamped dollar bill is seen by about 875 people, which means one person stamping four bills a day can get their message out to a million people.

Both Lincoln Chafee and Lindsey Graham, who are expected at the parades, have already endorsed a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Around the country, 16 states and more than 600 cities and towns have called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow limits on political spending.  Here in the Granite State, 69 municipalities have passed resolutions calling on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution.

A recent New York Times poll found broad bipartisan support for changing the way political campaigns are financed. 84% of Americans think “money has too much influence” and 85% think that elected officials “promote policies that directly help the people and groups who donated money to their campaigns.”

Here in New Hampshire, more than two-thirds of residents support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The Stampede will bring the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile and Stampede Pedaller to the Independence Day festivities.

The NH Rebellion Rally in Portsmouth will also feature free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, founded the Stamp Stampede in 2012.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Making Progress in the Campaign Finance Reform Movement

Stamp Stampede Founder Ben Cohen with the Stampmobile at the Green Alliance "Party for the Planet" at Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth.

Stamp Stampede Founder Ben Cohen with the Stampmobile at the Green Alliance “Party for the Planet” at Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth.

The Stamp Stampede is on the move in New Hampshire!

The Stamp Stampede recently celebrated two huge milestones:

  • 1,000 stamps sold in the Granite State
  • 125 small businesses hosting Stamp Stampede “stamping stations.”

In upcoming weeks, the Stampede will also introduce the “Stampede Pedaller” – a people-powered version of the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile.

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans supporting efforts to overturn Citizens United by legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency. Every stamped dollar bill is seen by about 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – which makes stamping money a highly-effective way for citizens to show their support for the grassroots movement to get money out of politics.

The Stampede plans to recruit 6,500 stampers in New Hampshire and stamp four million dollar bills in the region before next February’s #FITN Presidential primary.

Jonathan Clarke of Manchester volunteers as a Stampmobile driver, as well as stamping currency.  “I know that we have a problem coming together in this country, and I want to be part of the solution,” he said. “I like to support an organization that feels the same way I do. I feel like by joining, I’m helping to push this country back in the right direction.”

Karma Tattoo in Hooksett has one of the more than 125 small-business stamping stations around the state.  “I think the idea of using money to fight money in politics is awesome!” said owner Melissa Nolan. “Looking around, you don’t feel like you have any power to do anything. Stamping money is easy, and it gets people who don’t know much talking and learning about the issue.”

Jim Palmer and Anita Lowry, owners of the Live Free Caffe in Dover, advertised their stamping station on their Facebook page.  “Stop in and stamp your money. Let the politicians know how you feel! The government should serve everyone, not just the big corporations and the 1%ers.”

So far, 69 New Hampshire municipalities have passed local resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow states to regulate campaign finance.  Polls show that more than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters – including 61% of Granite State Republicans – support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile is a Rube Goldberg device that sends money through a tortuous journey up the “Tower of Corrupted Power” and down past “Corpo Man” and “Money Mouth” before stamping it with the Stampede message of the day.  It’s a crowd-pleasing piece of mechanized post-industrial art – which the Stampede brought to New Hampshire to keep all our presidential candidates company. It will be featured at local fairs and festivals throughout the summer.

The Stampede Pedaller is smaller and people-powered, just like the Stampede.  It’s a bicycle that turns into a mobile stamping station, complete with balloons, flag and photo op.  Like the Stampmobile, it attracts attention – but it’s easier to get into places where the #GetMoneyOut message might otherwise not be heard.  The Stampede plans to formally unveil it this weekend during Laconia Bike Week.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

How Much Money Will Corporations Spend Trying to Buy Votes for the TPP/ Fast Track?

Stamp Stampede founder Ben Cohen with members of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans.

THIS is why I’m working for the Stamp Stampede trying to #GetMoneyOut of politics.

Because most of the stories about Friday’s House vote on TAA/TPP fast-track include mention of a “revote” scheduled for Tuesday. And I’ve seen what can happen, in “revotes.”

The Guardian analyzed what happened with last month’s Senate vote on TPP fast-trackIf you care about this issue, you should take the time to read their story.

“Fast-tracking the TPP … was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators…

“Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May… In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida – caved and voted for fast-track.”

I can’t help thinking of last September’s vote on the Democracy for All amendment… when somehow between Monday night and Thursday afternoon, 25 Senators flipped their votes to kill the amendment.

A lot can change in just a few days.

And the House is expected to “revote” TAA/TPP fast-track on Tuesday.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Hillary Clinton Visits New Hampshire

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came back to New Hampshire today “to earn each and every vote” — but it was almost impossible for the average voter to get anywhere close to her.

New Hampshire Stampers were at both of the “public” events the Clinton campaign held today, hoping to talk with the candidate and discuss the issue of #MoneyInPolitics.

We have done this successfully with other presidential candidates, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Bernie Sanders — all of whom have endorsed a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  We will keep trying with those politicians we have not been able to pin down on the subject, including the two dozen or so candidates we were kept away from at the #NHGOP #FITN Summit.

New Hampshire Stampers first tried to meet Secretary Clinton outside this morning’s “small business” event at Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton — but met Secret Service and other security officials, instead.

We were able to get somewhat closer to the campaign’s “grassroots organizing” event this afternoon.  But again, it wasn’t possible for us to ask the Secretary to clarify her position on #MoneyInPolitics and what types of reforms she would support.  People who had not been cleared to attend the event were herded away from the entrance to the store, before Secretary Clinton arrived.  She said “hi” to a few people and then went into the event.

The campaign’s tight control over these events is beginning to draw criticism.

Rather than being able to ask Secretary Clinton to clarify her position on campaign finance reforms, New Hampshire Stampers were relegated to watching a tightly-scripted performance on CSpan.

Cross-posted on the StampStampede.org blog.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Same question, different problem: WHERE did the money come from?

truth-257159_640It’s not just the questions about the Federal Elections Commission investigation and where the money came from.  It’s actually worse than that.  It’s what happened afterward – because like so much else in government these days, it involves political fundraising.

At the end of last year, Rep. Frank Guinta’s campaign reported less than $19,000 cash-on-hand.

Yet the FEC enforcement agreement signed by Guinta’s lawyer last month obligated the campaign to pay a $15,000 administrative fine and repay $355,000 in loans dating back to 2010. (Hat-tip to the Union Leader for posting the agreement online, where we can all read it.)

Like most Congressmen, Rep. Guinta is a practiced fundraiser.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Guinta raised about $4.5 million dollars during his last three campaigns.

And just in the first quarter of this year – presumably while his lawyer was negotiating the FEC settlementGuinta’s campaign raised more than $300,000.  

Koch Industries PAC gave $5,000.  The Chicago Board Options Exchange PAC gave $5,000.  Independent Insurance Agents PAC gave $5,000.  New York Life Insurance PAC gave $5,000.  National Beer Wholesalers PAC gave $5,000.  The Boeing Company PAC gave $1,000.  The Turkish Coalition PAC gave $1,000.

Jeb Bush’s brand-new “Right to Rise” SuperPAC gave $5,200 — before the PAC was even two months old.

The Leadership PAC affiliated with House Speaker John Boehner gave $5,000, and Boehner’s campaign committee gave another $4,000.  The Leadership PAC of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave $5,000; his campaign gave another $4,000.  Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Leadership PAC gave $5,000.  The Leadership PAC of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise gave $5,000.  The Leadership PAC of Oregon Rep. Greg Walden gave $5,000.  The Leadership PAC of Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling gave $5,000.  Ribble for Congress gave $1,000.  Latta for Congress gave $1,000.  Jeff Miller for Congress gave $1,000.  Andy Harris for Congress gave $1,000.  Rick Allen for Congress gave $1,000.  Friends of Sam Johnson gave $1,000.  Rep. John Kline’s Leadership PAC gave $1,000.  Rep. Steve Stivers’ Leadership PAC gave $1,000.  The Leadership PAC of Rep. John Shimkus gave $1,000.

And the list goes on, for almost 75 pages.

Sort of like “Go Fund Me” – except that the money is coming from special interests and Guinta’s fellow congressmen, who also have an interest in how he votes.

Given that list of donors, would Rep. Guinta consider fighting House Leadership over the latest raid on Medicare?  Or is he going to vote exactly how the Speaker wants him to?

What does Jeb Bush expect, in return for the SuperPAC contribution?

What does Koch Industries expect?  The Chicago options traders?  Boeing?  The Turkish Coalition?

And what can Guinta’s constituents expect, after the campaign solicited almost enough money to pay the cost of the FEC agreement?  

How many of these donors knew that the FEC agreement was coming?  

Solicit more campaign contributions, to meet the conditions of a campaign finance enforcement agreement.  It’s so ironic, it should be funny – except, it’s not.  It’s totally screwed up.

When politicians go begging to big money donors, everybody else loses.

That’s why two-thirds of New Hampshire voters want a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

It’s why hundreds of people have been walking across the state with the New Hampshire Rebellion, drawing attention to the need for campaign finance reform.

It’s why tens of thousands of people across the country are legally stamping US currency with messages like “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians.” Every stamped dollar bill is seen by about 875 people.  Get a stamp at StampStampede.org.  Stamp four bills each day for a year, and you’ll help convince a million people that it is possible to take our government back – if enough of us work together to do that.

It’s why small businesses are hosting Stamp Stampede stamping stations – more than 100 of them across New Hampshire – so their customers can stamp money and learn more about money in politics.

It’s why grandmothers and middle school students and people from every political persuasion are working together to reclaim our government from Big Money campaign donors.

Because when you read about a FEC enforcement action, you shouldn’t have to wonder whose money will be used to pay the fine, and what they’re going to expect in return.

And you really shouldn’t have to worry whether all the fundraising that happened, just before the agreement was signed, is going to do more damage to our democracy than the original violation.

 

Warning: More Campaign Fundraising Ahead

warning extreme danger

Photo by Paul Klintworth via Flikr

Some thoughts on the news that Rep. Frank Guinta has reached an agreement with the Federal Elections Commission to pay a $15,000 fine and repay $355,000.

First thought: this is a really big deal. Fifteen thousand dollars is a pretty big fine for the FEC.  In fact, it’s apparently the 24th-biggest fine the FEC has issued since 2000.  It’s more than three times the fine for failing to return excess campaign contributions issued to the campaign committee for House Speaker John Boehner earlier this year.

Second thought: it’s a minor miracle this happened at all.  The FEC has been mired in partisan gridlock for a long time now.  As FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel told the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim.”  FEC fines are at record lows.  If the FEC was able to agree on this enforcement action, that says something about how serious it was.

Third thought: repay $355,000?  How?   According to the *ahem* latest FEC report, Guinta’s campaign only has $312,432 cash on hand.  Which – I’m just guessing here – probably means the campaign is going to have to do some fundraising.

Fourth thought: the FEC itself has some real transparency issues.  I spent quite a while trying to find this enforcement agreement on the FEC website – and never found it.  I would have expected that large a fine would have merited a press release, but apparently I was wrong.

Fifth thought: does Guinta’s campaign even care about federal campaign laws?  Earlier this year, news broke that Guinta’s campaign was in trouble with the FEC over 2014 campaign violations.  Put this in context: even while the campaign committee was under FEC investigation, it didn’t pay close attention to the laws.  That’s sort of like running a red light when you know there’s a police car pursuing you for speeding.  Who does that?  And, what does it say about respect for the laws?

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A few other random thoughts:

Congratulations to the citizens of Newport!  Yesterday, Newport became the 69th New Hampshire municipality to pass a local resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and limit #MoneyInPolitics.   (See the complete list here.)  Special recognition to Robert Seavey and Robert Naylor for their work on the resolution.

If your town isn’t on that list – and you want it to be – click here for more information about how to pass a local resolution to #GetMoneyOut of politics.

Did you think 2012 was bad?  This presidential election is shaping up to be a real doozy.  In January, The Hill was predicting that the 2016 elections would cost about $5 billion (with a B) – or, about twice what was spent on the 2012 election.  Now they’re guessing it will be $10 billion (with a B).  How high will it go?  Nobody knows.

Worth reading: Why are Corporate Lobbyists the Only Ones Heard?  “Corporations and organizations representing corporations spent $2.6 billion on lobbying last year and labor unions spent $45 million.”  That’s almost a 60-to-one spending ratio.  When it came time to issue regulations to prevent another Wall Street meltdown, “among the lobbyists who had contacted the agencies, 78.2 percent represented financial institutions, 7.9 percent were law firms representing financial institutions, and 7.2 percent were financial trade association. Only 4.1 percent represented public interest and labor groups.”

I’m feeling old this morning.  I’ve been working on #MoneyInPolitics since the 1980s, when we were all concerned about PACs.  That seems positively quaint, in retrospect.

A quick trip down memory lane: 1984 was the first year that any presidential candidate raised the maximum contributions under the public financing system spending limits.  That candidate was Ronald Reagan.   That amount was about $10 million (with an M).  The spending limit was $20.2 million (with an M).

Lessee.  Accounting for inflation, that campaign spending limit that Ronald Reagan agreed to would be equal to about $46 million in today’s dollars.

And yes, that sea change in campaign spending is why “The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful.”

There is some light on the horizon.  People around the country are working toward a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United – and there has been a lot of progress made in a remarkably short time (particularly given the resistance from federal elected officials).

There are a whole lot of groups working on this.

And people are even having fun doing it.  Watch this, from the “1% News Network”:

An organizing pitch: these days, I’m working for the Stamp Stampede — and I hope you will join us in our campaign to help #StampMoneyOut of politics.

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.  Join the #MoveToAmend!

The Rest of the Story @ the #NHGOP #FITN Summit

2015-04-18 Rebellion arrivalThe national media logged thousands of stories about last weekend’s #FITN #NHGOP Summit – but they missed two.

The first story – overlooked by almost all of the national media but covered by the Concord Monitor, Bloomberg Politics and a bit by WMUR – was the #NHGOP treatment of the NH Rebellion.

The Rebellion was originally a sponsor of the #FITN Summit.  The group paid a sponsorship fee and expected to have a table inside the Crowne Plaza, so they could speak to the assembled presidential candidates about the #GetMoneyOut movement.

Three days before the event, their sponsorship was revokedThe explanation?

The reason that the FITN event organizers told us was that they believed NH Rebellion had given money to oppose Republican candidates. This is incorrect.  The NH Rebellion has not spent any money to oppose — or support — Republican candidates, or any candidates for that matter. We are a project of Open Democracy, based in Concord, N.H. which is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and cannot legally contribute to the campaigns of candidates.

With all the attention being paid to which-side-of-the-line legal technicalities these days, one might think that the #NHGOP would be more careful about their “reason” for revoking the sponsorship.

2018-04-18 NashuaPDBut the #NHGOP didn’t just tell the Rebellion that the group couldn’t have a table.  They decided the group had to be kept out of the building.  And then they called the cops.

The Rebellion walkers had organized a 15-mile “Patriots Day Walk” for Democracy that started in Lowell, Massachusetts with the ringing of a Paul Revere bell.  When 80 or so Rebellion walkers arrived at the #FITN Summit, the walkers were met by police and told to “keep on moving.”  Walkers were literally escorted from the hotel grounds by the police.

And when “Paul Revere” impersonator Ellen Read was given legitimate event credentials – and actually got in the door – she was almost immediately forced back out.

There’s a clear message here, for anyone who’s listening: leadership of the #NHGOP does not want to hear from the #GetMoneyOut movement.

Wondering why?  First rule: Follow the Money.  Which, luckily, the National Institute on Money in State Politics is making easier and easier.  Pull up their database of “contributions to Republican party committees” in New Hampshire, click to sort the data by “election year” and guess who’s on the list? Astrazeneca…  Centene Corp… Comcast… CVS Caremark… Deloitte & Touche… Express Scripts… General Electric… International Franchise Association… Merck & Co…. Pfizer… Verizon… Altria… Waste Management… Choice In Healthcare Cmte…  NE Cable and Telecommunications Association… NH Automobile Dealers… NH Dental Society… NH Independent Pharmacy Assoc… NH Society of Eye Physicians… Select Management Resources (haven’t heard of them?  click here)… B J Alan Co… Seabrook Station…

Hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations and business associations.

And Ellen Read got “escorted” out the door.

The second story that got missed: the depth of the anger about Citizens United, and the public support for fixing the problem.

All along the 15 miles of the Rebellion’s walk, motorists tooted their horns, gave us thumbs-up and shouted encouragement.

Two women grabbed the flag off their porch and joined the walk as we went by.

One woman was putting her own leaflets on cars outside the hotel, when we got there.  She wasn’t a part of the Rebellion or StampStampede, she’s just sick and tired of #MoneyInPolitics and wanted to let everyone at the #FITN Summit know she’d had enough.  (She was really glad to hear she’s not alone!!)

2015-04-18 StampMobileA few reporters wandered across the street to take a closer look at the Amazing Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile.  They all seem surprised by the statistics about grassroots support (61% of NH Republicans support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United68 NH municipalities have passed local resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment… 80% of NH Republicans think Congress cares more about special interests than its constituents).  But none of the reporters wrote about it.

Here’s why that’s important:

Dave Weigel of Bloomberg got a very different explanation, when he asked #NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn why the NH Rebellion had gotten tossed from the #FITN Summit. “This summit is an event for Republican activists to hear from our potential presidential candidates,” she told him, “not a platform for the self-absorbed antics of a liberal Harvard professor.”

If Horn truly thinks that #MoneyInPolitics is just an issue for one “Harvard professor”… then who is she listening to?  Certainly not the pollsters at UNH.  Certainly not the people driving down Route 3A last Saturday.  Or the woman with the flyers in the parking lot.

Is she listening only to those “corporate people” on the list of donors to NH Republican Party Committees?

#NHGOP voters deserve to have their voices heard.  Not just by “potential presidential candidates” – but by their party officials, too.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

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