• Advertisement

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.

————————

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 Bad Would Chris Christie Be For Federal Workers As President?

Chris Christie  (Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

Chris Christie
(Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

Government Exec just posted a new article on how bad Governor Chris Christie would be for federal workers if he is elected as President.

As governor, Christie has fought tenaciously — and quite publicly — to modify the pension system for state employees. He highlighted those reforms in his announcement speech Tuesday.

“We made the difficult decision to reform pensions and health benefits,” Christie said, “and we continue that fight today.”

In a controversial move in 2010, Christie signed into law a bill to decrease pension benefits for future employees. In 2011, he signed a much grander law that raised most public workers’ contributions into their defined benefit funds from 5.5 percent of their paychecks to 7.5 percent, suspended cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and raised the retirement age.

Christie compromised by agreeing the state would pay more toward the pension fund, but later backtracked and invested far less than originally promised. That decision has left New Jersey as one of the states with the largest unfunded pension liabilities.

The governor has since said his initial reform did not go far enough, and has pitched more changes that would switch state employees to a defined benefit, defined contribution hybrid — much like the current federal system. The proposal, however, would overhaul the benefits for current government employees. Generally, changes to federal employees’ pensions have grandfathered in active workers and restricted the changes to new hires. Christie also proposed freezing the existing pension system, creating a “cash balance” that would help newer employees while hurting long-time public servants.

Christie has coupled his pension reforms with an overhaul of state employees’ health care benefits. He has twice required public workers to contribute more toward their health insurance premiums,noting the changes would bring the state more in line with the federal system.

As governor, Christie made a name for himself in part by taking on public sector unions and fighting to reduce the benefits for state employees. If elected president, he would have the opportunity to bring those cuts to the federal level.

As public workers in New Jersey are fighting for Gov. Christie to Fund NJ Pension, Christie has his eyes on the biggest prize, the Federal Employees Retirement System (and if you have not already heard, your Social Security too).

 

For more information on the #FundNJPension fight read this guest editorial from a New Jersey teacher.

For more information of Chris Christie as Governor of New Jersey read this.

Granite Staters Cannot Afford Another Six Years Of Kelly Ayotte

New Kelly Ayotte Campaign Video Tries To Hide Record Of
Putting DC And Wall Street Special Interests Before New Hampshire 

Ayotte Brags About Miserable Record On Issues Including
Working Families & The Economy, Education, And the Environment

Concord, N.H. – Kelly Ayotte is launching her vulnerable campaign stunningly early and it’s no secret why: Republicans know that her record of putting Washington and Wall Street special interests before New Hampshire has put her re-election at risk.

In a new campaign video, Ayotte tried desperately to run from her record of putting special interests first while turning her back on New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy – even bragging about her miserable on issues including working families and the economy, education, and the environment.

But if Ayotte believes she’s going to be able to hide the fact that she’s turned her back on New Hampshire, she’s going to be in for a rude awakening at the ballot box.

See below for some of the key facts missing from Kelly Ayotte’s campaign video:

Kelly Ayotte Claims She’s “Bipartisan” But The Truth Is She:

“New Hampshire is a pro-gun state, but it is also a pro-gun safety state. Senator Ayotte voted against common sense criminal background checks and the 89% of her constituents who support them,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We will be on the campaign trail to remind voters of Senator Ayotte’s record and to also encourage her to do the right thing now. For two years she’s refused to host a town hall dedicated to how we can reduce gun violence, and in the town halls she has hosted her moderators screened out questions regarding her vote against background checks. Reducing gun violence is a pressing national issue and Kelly Ayotte owes the people of New Hampshire a straight answer on why she continues to side with the NRA lobby over her constituents.”

“Senator Ayotte saw her approval ratings in the state plummet after she voted against background checks in 2013 and she should expect the same ire as she seeks re-election,” Rice-Hawkins said.

Kelly Ayotte Claims She Looks Out For Families’ Economic Interests (Including K-12 Education And Child Care) But The Truth Is She:

Kelly Ayotte has a long history of looking out for her special interest donors and opposing even modest Wall Street reform. Ayotted has voted to roll back the Wall Street reform bill and slash funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has received more than 2,000 consumer complaints from New Hampshire since December 2011.

“It’s no surprise that Wall Street special interests would try to save Kelly Ayotte after she’s consistently proven that she will always put special interests first while making New Hampshire consumers pay the price,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “This disgraced Wall Street Super PAC couldn’t buy a senate seat for Scott Brown last cycle, and they won’t be able to rescue Kelly Ayotte’s chances either.”

Kelly Ayotte Claims She’s Protected New Hampshire’s Environment And Natural Resources But The Truth Is She:

It is painfully obvious that Senator Kelly Ayotte is not working for New Hampshire families, and  her record shows she will put Wall Street, Big Oil, the Koch Brothers and corporations ahead of working families.

This election, Granite Staters will be holding her accountable for her voting record, and that will lead to a major disappointment for Kelly in 2016.

The Nashua Labor Coalition Endorses Michael O’Brien For Alderman-At-Large In June 23rd Special Election

O’Brien is the voice that working families need in City Hall

(Nashua, NH) The Nashua Labor Coalition, a chapter of the NH AFL-CIO that brings together a variety of labor unions, community organizations, and community activists, endorsed Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at-Large in the upcoming city wide special election on June 23rd.

“As a State Representative for four terms, Michael O’Brien has stood up for working families by opposing harmful legislation like so-called ‘Right To Work’ and has fought to protect our collective bargaining rights,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition and member of the Nashua Teachers Union (AFT 1044).  “We know that as an Alderman, Michael will continue to put working families first.”

For over 34 years Michael O’Brien has dedicated his life to protecting the city of Nashua as a member of the Nashua Fire and Rescue.

“We are pleased that Deputy Chief O’Brien has chosen to continue to serve Nashua after his retirement in the coming weeks. When elected, he will be a strong voice for public safety and for growth of the middle class here in Nashua,” said John McAllister, President of the Nashua Firefighters Association IAFF Local #789.

“As an Alderman, I know that Michael will continue to push expanding rail service to Nashua and all of Southern New Hampshire,” said Dawn Roy,  Chair of the United Auto Workers Local 2322.  “The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Project will bring hundreds of new jobs and would be a boost to our local economy.”

“The Nashua Labor Coalition is proud to endorse Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at- Large, and strongly urge all Nashua residents to vote in the special election for Alderman-at-Large on Tuesday, June 23rd, concluded Howes.

More information on Michael O’Brien can be found at www.obrienfornashua.com

Members of the Nashua Labor Coalition include:

Deb Howes
John McAllister
Dawn Roy
Gary Hoffman
Matt Murray
Jim Scurrah
Sylvia Gale
Dexter Arnold
Ed Barnes

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Guinta $$ for Settlement: “What got promised in return?”

By Paul Brochu, Stamp Stampede Lead Organizer

Not2BUsed_NHRebellionI’ve had a lot of interesting conversations while working for the Stamp Stampede.  Last week, one of them was with a woman who used to do political fundraising for a US congressman.

She gave me an “insider’s view” of the recent settlement between Congressman Frank Guinta and the Federal Election Commission. After a four-year investigation, the Guinta campaign agreed in April to pay a $15,000 fine and refund a $355,000 loan.

The former fundraiser’s first point was that Guinta really benefitted from the timing of the announcement.

She said that under normal circumstances, the FEC investigation should have been a career-ender.  The $15,000 “administrative penalty” is a high fine, by FEC standards.  Only six other House campaigns have ever received higher fines – and only one of those candidates is currently a Congressman.

But the agreement was released early in Guinta’s two-year term of office.  Yes, there was a flurry of media coverage after the announcement, but that’s already beginning to die down.  And New Hampshire is in the throes of a #FITN primary season featuring two dozen presidential candidates.

“If I was Frank Guinta and I couldn’t persuade the FEC to drop their investigation,” she said, “then I would take an enforcement agreement and get it public using exactly this same timing.  It’s basic campaign strategy: we call it ‘inoculation.’  If you can’t make a problem go away, then you get it out in the press early so it will be old news by the time the election rolls around.”

Her second point was more troubling.  At the end of last year, Guinta’s campaign had a cash-on-hand balance that was just barely enough to pay the FEC fine – and not anywhere near enough to pay back the $355,000.  Then there was a flurry of high-dollar fundraising in the first quarter of this year.

“It looks to me like that $300,000 in Q1 fundraising made it possible for the Guinta campaign to sign the FEC agreement and get the investigation over with,” she said.  “But I have to wonder.  What got promised in return for all those donations?

“Political fundraising is like hunting, it has seasons,” she explained.  “You don’t usually fundraise right after an election.  Donors have just given; and you don’t want to seem greedy, you don’t want go back to the same well so soon.”

After the 2012 election, Guinta’s campaign didn’t report any contributions at all until nine months into the next election cycle.  But this time around, donors were “maxing out” almost immediately after the 2014 election – and they were giving the maximum donation not just for next year’s primary, but also for the 2016 general election.

“What were all those donors thinking?  Or, rather, what did they know?” she sked me.  “These are sophisticated donors.  They didn’t just wake up the last week in March and all decide to send large sums of money to the Guinta campaign.  It’s pretty obvious that the campaign solicited the money, and the timing of that solicitation must have raised some eyebrows.  If you’re fundraising out-of-season, there’s a reason.  And I can’t believe that no one asked what that reason was.”

Did former New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson know about the then-pending FEC enforcement agreement?  On March 31st, he “maxed out” for a general election that was still 18 months away.  The previous cycle, Benson made his general election contribution just three weeks before the election.

What about the folks at the Koch Industries PAC?  They donated $5,000 on March 27th.  Last time, they didn’t start contributing until much later in the election cycle.

Did the “Friends of John Boehner” question the timing?  The Guinta campaign reported receiving donations on March 20th for both the 2016 primary and the 2016 general election.  Last time around, the Friends of John Boehner didn’t donate anything at all until two weeks after the primary.

“I just wonder what was behind all those super-early donations,” the woman told me.  “I’ve done the ‘Dialing for Dollars’ thing during the off-season, myself.  Donors asked ‘What’s going on, why are you calling me now?’

“And after I answered,” she said, “they’d tell me what they wanted my boss to do.”

She’s had enough of political fundraising and, like tens of thousands of other Americans, she’s now part of the Stamp Stampede.  She’s working to #GetMoneyOut of politics by legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency.  Her favorite stamp says “Not to be Used for Bribing Politicians.”

“It’s just crazy,” she said.  “You’re there in your little cubicle making notes on the call sheet, what the donors care about, even the specific bill numbers. And you don’t ever tell them ‘no’.”

————————

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.

————————

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.

Jim Donchess Announces Endorsement of 22 Current and Former Elected Officials in Nashua

NASHUA – Candidate for Mayor Jim Donchess announced the endorsement of 22 current and former elected officials in Nashua, demonstrating the strong support for his vision to restore accountability and openness to City Hall.

“I’m supporting Jim Donchess because I know he is the only candidate who can bring all sides together in the city of Nashua,” said Board of Public Works Commissioner Paul G. Bergeron. “In his job as Alderman-at-Large Jim has strived to bring people together and ensure that all voices are included in the decision making process. I know that he will bring this consensus building approach to his job as Mayor, and a thoughtful and intelligent perspective to City Hall.”

“Jim has the experience, the leadership and the vision that we need for Nashua,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald. “He has all of the qualifications to get our city back on track for a robust economy and a vibrant community.”

“In 1987, when I was first elected to the Board of Education, Nashua public schools were first starting public Kindergarten. Jim was Mayor, and he had supported and helped implement public Kindergarten for the city,” said Former Board of Education Member Sue Newman. “This was years before New Hampshire finally mandated public Kindergarten for the entire state. Just as he did in the 1980’s, Jim continues to prioritize education and make sure that all our students have the opportunity to succeed.”

“I feel honored to have the support of so many current and former elected officials in Nashua,” said Donchess. “These people have shown their commitment to our city year after year through their public service and selflessness. I look forward to working with everyone to make Nashua a better place to live.”

Mary Nelson, Former State Senator

Cindy Rosenwald, State Representative, Ward 3

Alan Cohen, State Representative, Ward 3

David Cote, State Representative, Ward 4

Efstathia Booras, State Representative, Ward 6

Dan Hansberry, State Representative, Ward 8

Marty Jack, State Representative, Ward 9

Jan Schmidt, Former State Representative, Ward 1

Suzanne Mercier Vail, Former State Representative, Ward 2

Mariellen MacKay, Former State Representative, Ward 3

Joan Schulze, Former State Representative, Ward 8

Linda Gathright, Former State Representative, Ward 9

Steve Bolton, Former Alderman-At-Large and President, Board of Aldermen

George Pressly, Former Alderman-At-Large

Linda Willett, Former Alderman, Ward 3

Marc Plamondon, Former Alderman, Ward 4

Dottie Oden, Member, Board of Education

Kim Muise, Member, Board of Education

Atlant Schmidt, Former Member, Board of Education

Sue Newman, Former Member, Board of Education

Paul G. Bergeron, Commissioner, Board of Public Works

Joe Taranto, Former Commissioner, Board of Public Works

Donchess is a current Alderman-at-Large who announced his candidacy for Mayor two weeks ago with a supporters’ list of over 550 Nashua residents and a number of local activists and community leaders serving as campaign co-chairs. He also announced the endorsement of Former Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli last week. He previously served as Mayor of Nashua from 1984-1991 when Nashua was ranked “Best Place to Live in America” by Money Magazine.

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.

 

Nashua Mayoral Candidate Jim Donchess Announces Endorsement of Former Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli

NASHUA – Candidate for Mayor Jim Donchess announced the endorsement of Former Executive Councilor and longtime community leader Debora Pignatelli.

“Nashua is fortunate to have a candidate like Jim. In the 42 years I’ve lived in Nashua, Jim was one of the best Mayors we’ve had.  He has a great record. He has been an enthusiastic champion for Nashua residents for decades and a strong advocate on the issues that matter most to us, like education, a stable tax rate and public safety. I also like his position favoring commuter rail, something I worked on in Concord.  Jim’s experience and leadership in city government shows that he will be bringing people together to solve problems and promote economic vitality.  I am happy to stand by him during his campaign for Mayor,” said Councilor Pignatelli.

“I am proud to have the support of one of Nashua’s longest serving and most respected public servants,” said Donchess. “Throughout Debora’s 30-year career as an Executive Councilor, State Senator and a State Representative she has been a strong voice for her constituents and I look forward to continuing my service to the people of our city in the same tradition.”

Donchess is a current Alderman-at-Large who announced his candidacy for Mayor last week with a supporters’ list of over 550 Nashua residents and a number of local activists and community leaders serving as campaign co-chairs. He previously served as Mayor of Nashua from 1984-1991 when the city was ranked “Best Place to Live in America” by Money Magazine.

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?

———-

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!

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement