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Looking for a Budget “Not Beholden to Special Interests”

by Paul Brochu, Lead Organizer-NH for the Stamp Stampede

People don’t usually think about Big Money in politics as being an issue at the state level.

Ask about political influence, and eight out of ten New Hampshire voters will tell you that Congress cares more about special interests than about its constituents.  Almost two out of three New Hampshire voters support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

But almost nobody talks about the problem at our State House.

The budget passed by the House last month was a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with our electoral system.  It was endorsed by the state director of Americans for Prosperity – a national advocacy group founded and funded by the Koch brothers.  The guy even held a press conference to announce the group’s approval.

more crowd (2)The day of the vote, hundreds of New Hampshire residents filled the building, trying to get their legislators to hear them.  Trying to avoid cuts to addiction treatment services.  Trying to avoid downshifting of state costs to municipalities.  Trying to keep federal money that could subsidize 37,000 people’s health insurance through expanded Medicaid.  Trying to avoid cuts to all sorts of state services that people in New Hampshire rely on.

The guy from AFP walked right past all those people, as if he didn’t see them.  Then the House passed the budget he had endorsed.  All those people filling the State House, spilling out onto the sidewalks, didn’t make a bit of difference in the outcome.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, special interests spent about $900,000 on New Hampshire’s 2014 legislative elections – plus an unknown amount in “independent expenditures” and so-called “advocacy” spending.  That’s a lot of money.

According to the Institute, one donor – tobacco giant Altria – gave $16,750 to candidates in the 2014 New Hampshire state legislative elections.  The biggest recipient?  Former House Speaker William O’Brien received $5,000.  Surprise, surprise: the House budget turned down $20 million in proposed new tobacco tax revenues.

The Institute’s record show that Altria also gave donations to 14 of New Hampshire’s 24 Senators. Those donations ranged from $500 to $1,000.  Is there any hope that new tobacco tax revenues might show up in the Senate budget?

Remember back in 2011, when the Legislature cut tobacco taxes?  Tobacco wholesalers increased their prices, so customers’ prices stayed the same.  But state revenue dropped by $20 million.

At the local level, we see first-hand the effects of past years’ state budget cuts.  Untreated mental illness.  Untreated drug addiction.  The homeless.  People who can’t afford health care.  Families who can’t make ends meet.

And now we’re faced with even more cuts.  Just to please the guy from AFP?  And elected officials’ campaign contributors?

People who are tired of politicians kowtowing to special interests are banding together for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.  Since our elected leaders seem happy with the status quo, we’re trying to lead from the grassroots level.

Here in New Hampshire, almost 1,000 people have joined StampStampede.org and are legally stamping anti-corruption messages on US currency.  We’re turning dollar bills into miniature billboards.  Each stamped bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – spreading the #GetMoneyOut message quickly.

Almost 100 small businesses around the state are hosting “Stamping Stations” where customers can stamp their money and learn more about the problem.

Hundreds of people have joined the New Hampshire Rebellion on its walks to honor Granny D and draw attention to the problem.

People are working with the AFSC’s “Governing Under the Influence” project to get presidential candidates on record about what they will do to get Big Money out of politics.

Sixty-eight municipalities have passed local resolutions seeking a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Groups are hosting screenings of John Innis’ movie “Pay to Play.”  There are speaking tours about the influence of political donations on federal government spending.  Rallies and informal get-togethers.  Church congregations are stamping money in their collection plates with “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians” stamps from the Stamp Stampede.

And that’s just here in the Granite State.

All around the country, people from both parties are stepping forward and taking grassroots action to reclaim our government.

It’s a huge problem, at the federal level.  A recent Sunlight Foundation study of the country’s most politically-active corporations found that for every dollar they spent influencing politics, they got back an average of $760 in government support through tax breaks, federal contracts and other types of subsidies.

Yes, every dollar spent gets them $760 back.

Here in New Hampshire, watching the state budget, it looks like the math is going to be even more impressive.  If Altria’s $16,750 in 2014 political donations means that Big Tobacco avoids $20 million in taxes, that would be a 1:1,194 investment-to-return ratio.

While the mentally ill wait for treatment.

And the rest of us wait for representation that’s not beholden to special interests.

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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.

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.

“Party for the Planet” this Wednesday at Redhook Brewery!

Party_for_Planet_BenStampStampede.org founder Ben Cohen will “Party for the Planet” with the Green Alliance at Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth this Wednesday, April 22 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

The party follows an “Earth Day Clean Up” organized by the Green Alliance, which will be held earlier in the day.

The Green Alliance represents over 100 green-certified Business Partners and 4,000 community members, working to increase the profits of companies that have the least impact on the environment.

Redhook has been a green-certified Business Partner with the Green Alliance since 2011.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, is the founder and “Head Stamper” of the Stamp Stampede.  The Stampede is a grassroots movement now including more than 30,000 Americans who are legally rubber-stamping anti-corruption messages onto US currency.  The stamped bills become “miniature billboards” supporting a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  Each stamped dollar bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy.

More than 60 small businesses in the Granite State have joined the Stamp Stampede by hosting “Stamping Stations” where their customers can legally stamp anti-corruption messages on their money and learn more about the issue of #MoneyInPolitics.  Almost 1,000 people in New Hampshire have their own stamps to beautify their bucks with messages like “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians.”  The Stamp Stampede plans to stamp 10% of the currency circulating in New Hampshire, to bring attention to the problem and make it an issue in the presidential campaign.

“This is where the collaboration really becomes powerful,” says Green Alliance Director Sarah Brown. “A business like Redhook is ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability and is thrilled to be hosting green business leaders, citizens and Ben Cohen. We want folks to connect the dots between responsible business practices and protecting the environment; all three of our organizations share these values.”

“In order to create a sustainable future, we need to put a stop to pay-to-play culture. Progressive green business leaders are part of that,” adds Cohen. “Too often, big oil and special interest groups use campaign contributions and lobbying muscle to block common-sense pro-sustainability legislation. I’m excited to work with the Green Alliance community to help stamp big money out of politics.”

US government policies on the environment, sustainability and energy are among the issues most affected by special interest spending.

At the grassroots level, there is broad bipartisan support for overturning Citizens United and ending the influence of special interests. Four out of five New Hampshire Republicans think Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  More than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters support a Constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.

So far, 68 of the state’s cities and towns have passed measures calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The New Hampshire Legislature is now considering two measures about Citizens United.  Last month, the House passed a bipartisan measure calling for a Constitutional Convention.  The Senate unanimously passed a bill calling for an amendment, and setting up a study committee to recommend which proposed amendment to support.  So far, 16 other states have called for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get special interest money out of politics.

Wednesday night’s “Party for the Planet” is open to the public and guests will enjoy live music and complimentary eats. The $5 entry donation and $2 from every beer purchased goes to the local environmental non-profit Hodgson Brook Association. There will also be free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, compliments of Cohen.

The Party tops off a drop-in Earth Day clean-up, which runs from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Cleanup participants meet at Redhook to get their collection bags and location, and are urged to pick up as much trash as possible.  Clean-up participants get free raffle tickets for every bag of trash collected.  While Redhook and the Green Alliance encourage folks to participate in both the clean-up and the after-party, they are also separate events and visitors are welcome at either or both.

Redhook has an extensive facility-wide recycling and composting program, reuses water from the brewing process, and sends spent grains to local farmers. Early in 2015 they began purchasing wind energy credits and recently installed an electric car charging station, high-efficiency lights, motion sensors and EnergyStar appliances.

Tietjen Hynes is head of Redhook’s Sustainability Committee, and Operations Project Engineer and has coordinated a cleanup for Pease Tradeport, home to a growing number of environmentally-minded companies. Set up as a corporate participatory Earth Day activity, a number of companies on the Tradeport have already committed employees to the cleanup.

“Lots of Pease companies are participating; many of our neighbors are stepping to the plate. We also welcome individuals and have had some smaller green-minded businesses like Aucella commit to both the clean-up and the party,” says Hynes.

With the help of other Pease Tradeport businesses, Hynes organized the Earth Day cleanup to focus on the Tradeport grounds and nearby Hodgson Brook.  “Hodgson Brook not only runs along the Redhook property, but also throughout the Tradeport and is listed as an impaired waterway,” said Hynes. “Land use and urbanization have degraded the freshwater stream, altered the natural makeup of the brook, and created serious pollution problems. We hope to improve the condition of the brook by reducing the amount of litter.”

Party for the Planet
Wednesday, April 22
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
REDHOOK BREWERY PORTSMOUTH

1 Redhook Way
Pease International Tradeport
Portsmouth, NH 03801

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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.

Stamp Your Money While You Eat Free Ice Cream!

2015-04-14 Free Cone DayToday, April 14th is “Free Cone Day” at Ben & Jerry’s nationwide.  At the 940 Elm Street location in Manchester, NH, ice cream lovers coming by for their free scoop between noon and 8:00 pm will also be able to Stamp their money and learn more about the Stamp Stampede.

StampStampede.org is tens of thousands of Americans supporting the movement to get money out of politics by legally stamping messages onto US currency.

Here in New Hampshire, more than 60 small businesses have already joined the Stampede and are hosting “stamping stations” where customers can stamp their currency and learn more about the issue.  Almost 1,000 Granite Staters are beautifying their bucks with messages like “Not to be Used for Bribing Politicians.”  Each stamped bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy.

At the grassroots level, there is broad bipartisan support for overturning Citizens United and ending the influence of special interests. Four out of five New Hampshire Republicans think Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  More than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters support a Constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.  So far, 68 of the state’s cities and towns have passed local resolutions asking for a Constitutional amendment.

The state Legislature is considering two measures about Citizens United.  The House passed a bipartisan measure calling for a Constitutional Convention.  The Senate unanimously passed a bill calling for an amendment and setting up a study committee to recommend which proposed amendment to support.  So far, 16 other states have called for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get special interest money out of politics.

The Stamp Stampede was founded by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Free Cone Day & Stamp Your Money!
Tuesday, April 14th 12noon to 8:00 pm
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
940 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101

For other Ben & Jerry’s locations celebrating Free Cone Day, click here.

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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.

NH House Considers Bill on Amending the US Constitution to Limit Political Spending

2015-04-07 Steve Rand

The NH House Committee on Legislative Administration today held its public hearing on a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  The legislation, SB 136, was passed unanimously by the state Senate last month.

The House has already passed a resolution, HCR 2, calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention to address Citizens United.

Steve Rand of Plymouth (pictured above) was one of those who testified.  “Everybody knows that we have a corrupt system, a legally corrupt system.  The question really is: if everybody knows this, why do 95% of us Americans think there isn’t anything we can do about it?” he asked.  “What we are trying to do is change people’s minds about the possibilities; and what you can do — as our elected representatives– is to help that process along.”

Corrine Dodge, one of the Stamp Stampede’s “Rebel Grammies” from Derry, also testified. “I feel so passionately that I could no longer sit by and watch what has been happening to our elections, as they became more corrupt, and as I watched Congress become more dysfunctional.”  Corrine worked with her Town Council to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment.  She also testified in favor of an earlier bill, and met with her state Senator about the bill now pending in the House.

“Now it’s your turn,” she told the Committee.  “What will you, the House Committee on Legislative Administration, decide?  Will you vote against your constituents’ will?  Or will you stand this time with We The People?”

Dan Weeks, of Open Democracy and the NH Rebellion, noted “There is specific language ensuring that the First Amendment is protected, in whatever constitutional proposals are supported by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation.”

“We do believe there is a way to address the concerns raised by Citizens United, which are magnified, as you all know, by our election last fall, where $100 million was spent in New Hampshire, the majority of it outside money,” Dan said.  “You have heard so many times from citizens that something has to be done.”

The Committee is expected to make a recommendation on the bill within the next several weeks.

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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.

Rallying for Democracy at the State House

2015-04-02 McCutcheon Rally 1

Democracy activists held dozens of rallies around the country today to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision.

Nationwide, the rallies focused on public disclosure of political contributions by federal contractors. Organizers urged President Obama to issue an executive order requiring any company that receives a federal contract to disclose its campaign contributions.

In New Hampshire, that issue was also raised last week by presumed presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul.  “I think special interests have too much influence in Washington,” he told the Conway Daily Sun.  “I think what makes people mad is, say you’re a contractor and you get a billion-dollar contract, the first million you take is to hire lobbyists to get you more.”

The Sunlight Foundation recently studied the 200 corporations which have been most politically active at the federal level.  The Foundation found that for every dollar spent influencing politics, the corporations received an average of $760 back from the government in contracts, tax breaks or other support.

Groups around the country organized rallies today to draw attention to the issue of political activity influencing federal contracts, and to pressure President Obama to take action on the issue.

However, at the New Hampshire State House today, the McCutcheon anniversary rally took a more rebellious tone.

Speaker Jim Reubens, a Republican candidate for US Senate in 2014, spoke about the campaign for a Constitutional Convention which could revise our form of government and reduce the influence of Big Money.

Speaker Arnie Alpert, NH Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee, led rally attendees in a reading of Article 10 of the New Hampshire Constitution:

[Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.  June 2, 1784

As the Stamp Stampede mobile billboard circled the State House, some attendees reflected on “Head Stamper” Ben Cohen’s observation to the Portsmouth Herald last month. “It’s becoming the rule of the corporations and the ultra wealthy elite instead of the rule of the people,” he said. “The whole history of this country has been people revolting against elitism.”

The two dozen activists returned to the State House today less than a day after a massive rally protesting decisions by the House of Representatives to cut needed government programs rather than raise tax revenues. “These are the types of decisions that cause voters to question the loyalty of our elected officials,” said Paul Brochu, StampStampede Lead Organizer-NH.  “Budgets are, above all else, choices about priorities.  In a more-perfect world, our elected officials would make these sort of decisions based on the best interests of their constituents. But we live in a world where political donations speak louder than votes.”  Read more here and here.

Today’s rally was organized by the New Hampshire Rebellion, in partnership with the Stamp Stampede, AFSC-Governing Under the Influence project, People for the American Way and NH Citizens Alliance.

2015-04-02 McCutcheon Rally 2

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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.

NH Senate Unanimously Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 3The New Hampshire Senate just passed a bill supporting the amendment of the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United. The voice vote was apparently unanimous. The bill, SB 136, establishes a study committee to review the various proposed constitutional amendments, and issue a report by November 1st regarding which approach should be supported by the New Hampshire congressional delegation.

“Fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and the consequences of the Citizens United ruling on our elections must be addressed,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark.​ “The issue of such large amounts of money influencing our elections is not a partisan one; it affects all of us. That’s why 67 of our municipalities have passed warrant articles calling for action on this very serious issue which threatens our democracy.”

“In 2014 alone, over $49 million was spent on NH Congressional races from outside groups, drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens,” she said. “I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues have finally agreed that it is time to do something about the corrupting influence of such large amounts of out-of-state money on our elections. I urge the House to agree as well.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136“The Senate’s action today is a huge step forward in the grassroots effort to make New Hampshire the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United,” said Paul Brochu, the Stamp Stampede’s Lead Organizer in New Hampshire.

“We’re very hopeful that the House will also pass this bill.  The House called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in 2013 and 2014; and earlier this year the House passed a resolution seeking an Article V Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United,” he said. “I think we’re all tired of out-of-state special interests trying to buy our elections.  It’s time for some common-sense limits – and that common sense starts by telling the Supreme Court that no, corporations are not ‘people.’ ”

“Today, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senators Russell Prescott (R-23) and Martha Fuller Clark (D-21), the Senate at last voted to pass a version of SB 136 that includes language specifically calling for a constitutional amendment,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Co-Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign.  “This reflects what the people of New Hampshire have been urging their elected officials to do in response to the surge of outside money being spent on state and federal elections.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 2 (2)“The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people,” said John Bonifaz, President of Free Speech for People.

“This victory also demonstrates that a sustained people-powered movement can win,” he added. “New Hampshire citizens from throughout the state have repeatedly called on their legislators to take this action. They have rallied. They have marched. They have traveled to their state capitol to stand up and be heard. And, today, the people were heard. When the history of the 28th Amendment is written, it will include the story of New Hampshire citizens demanding their democracy back.”

“All across New Hampshire, people from both parties are saying they’ve had enough of Big Money in politics,” Brochu said.  “In town after town, Town Meeting after Town Meeting, Granite State voters have said ‘no more!’  It’s been amazing to watch all these people – many of whom have never been politically active before in their lives – suddenly step forward and lead their hometowns to take a stand and say the Constitution should be amended.”

“Many of the people who have stepped forward on this issue had never before called or written to or met with their elected officials.  They’re acting as ‘citizen lobbyists’ for the very first time, trying to take back their government from the special interests and Big Money donors,” Brochu added.  “This is what democracy is supposed to be about – and it is beautiful to see.”

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Stamp_StampedeThe 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.

At the State House: Trying to get Money Out of Politics

2015-03-18 Senate Rules CommitteeEarlier this week, while the House Finance Committee was proposing cuts to state programs and services, the Senate Rules Committee was discussing a bill to help get Big Money out of politics.

The Senate amended SB 136 and then unanimously recommended that the bill Ought To Pass.  A full Senate vote on the bill is expected next week — and it is possible that the bill will be amended again on the floor, before the Senate votes.

SB 136 was one of a pair of bills filed this year regarding Citizens United and the effect of Big Money on our electoral system.  The House version called for a statewide “Listening Tour” — but last month, the House voted that bill down, largely along party lines.

Since then, 11 New Hampshire towns have passed local resolutions endorsing a Constitutional amendment to get Big Money out of politics.  During their 2015 Town Meetings, voters in Bedford, Canterbury, Gilmanton, Greenville, Madbury, Mason, Plainfield, Rye, Sandown, Walpole, and Westmoreland all approved warrant articles to overturn Citizens United.  So far, 68 Granite State municipalities have passed resolutions asking for a Constitutional amendment.

As the grassroots level, there is bipartisan agreement on getting money out of politics: 61% of New Hampshire Republicans support a Constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions; 80% believe that Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.

2012_NH_State_LegMoney in politics isn’t just a federal-level issue. Corporations, lobbyists, professional associations and other groups pour hundreds of millions of dollars into state-level legislative races every two years.

Money in politics is influencing every level of our government.   The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been so successful that now they’re drilling even deeper.  The American City County Exchange (ACCE) is bringing ALEC-style political influence to our local governments, too.

That’s why The Stamp Stampede has been following SB 136 so closely.  We are working to #GetMoneyOut of politics and #TakeBackOurGovernment.

  • Read “Is the NH Legislature Listening to Voters’ Anger when it comes to Money In Politics?” here.
  • Read “NH House Votes Down ‘Listening Tour’ on Citizens Unitedhere.
  • Read “Another Public Hearing on Citizens United in NH – Will it be the Last One this Year?” here.
  • Read “Senator Lou D’Allesandro: We Must Pass SB 136 To Overturn Citizens Unitedhere.

Stamp_StampedeThe 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.

Get involved in New Hampshire’s movement to #StampMoneyOut of politics.  Join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/NHStampede or Follow us at @NHStampede.

Billboard_State_House

The Rest of the Story on Scott Walker’s Visit to Concord

By Paul Brochu, Lead Organizer, New Hampshire for The Stamp Stampede

According to someone who was there Saturday morning:

2015-03-14 Walker protest 1More people were outside protesting against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker than were inside the building, attending the event.

Inside, what was billed as the NH-GOP’s “2016 Kickoff Grassroots Training” quickly devolved into an exercise in political fundraising.  Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn kept reminding the “Grassroots” participants to donate, donate, donate.  She also encouraged them to volunteer for Americans For Prosperity. (Which is somewhat odd… wouldn’t the Party want its “Grassroots” volunteers to support Republican candidates, not a 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization” founded by the Koch brothers ??)

Inside, party officials were touting Scott Walker as “the only candidate willing to fight the special interests.” (Which is an odd characterization, while there’s an ongoing investigation into “whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups illegally worked together in recall elections” including “the involvement of Walker’s campaign in raising money” for the Wisconsin Club for Growth.)

Inside, party officials were discussing who would – and wouldn’t – be allowed into the event.  Among those left outside in the cold?  Any and all Republicans from Massachusetts.   Apparently, NH GOP officials thought Massachusetts Republicans had struck some sort of “deal” with labor unions… and because of that, any Republican from Massachusetts was turned away at the door.  Among those left outside the event?  A gray-suited man who described himself as a “Lifetime Member of the National Republican Inner Circle” who happened to be from Massachusetts.

2015-03-14 Walker protest 2(And, yes, there were Republican union members outside the event, too.  Party officials keep forgetting that, in New Hampshire, a large chunk of union members are registered Republicans.  And Republican union members weren’t any happier with Scott Walker than Democratic union members were.)

And also outside the event?  Gov. Walker’s fundraising machine, which reportedly is going full-steam all around the country. Here’s how CNN reported it:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is on an ambitious mission this spring to scoop up major GOP donors ahead of a likely presidential run … Walker’s PAC, Our American Revival, provided CNN with a list of names of reliable Republican donors who have already committed to bundle funds for him or contribute significantly to a Super PAC that would be developed to support him should he run. And Republican fundraisers have told CNN donors are lining up to meet with him as he’s rocketing up in the polls.

New Hampshire used to pride itself on the “First in the Nation” primary.  Only now, we’ve been beaten to the punch by a bunch of billionaires holding their own “interviews” and trying to pre-select which candidates will be able to run for President.

2015-03-14 Walker protest 3That’s why the Stamp Stampede was outside the event, too, Saturday morning.

We remember back in 2011, when Gov. Walker thought he was talking with David Koch. (Frankly, it was kind of embarrassing; governors should be dignified, not fawning.  You can read the transcript here.)

And even before that: the videotape of a billionaire asking him whether he could make Wisconsin a “completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work” state.  And Walker replied that his “first step” would be “to divide and conquer” the unions through his “budget-adjustment bill.”

That was after the 2010 elections, in which Walker won the support of Operating Engineers Local 139.

Terry McGowan, the union’s business manager, said the union gave its 2010 endorsement only after getting assurances Walker would not pursue right-to-work legislation. [McGowan said] he was continuing to take Walker at his word given his public statements and conversations he has had with him.  “You don’t hear him say, ‘Yes, I’m going to go after right-to-work legislation,’ ” McGowan said of the video.

But he added that divide and conquer is a phrase that is anathema to those in the labor movement. 

“It means turning worker against worker,” he said.

The billionaire gave Walker a $500,000 donation.

And last week, just before he came to New Hampshire, Scott Walker signed “Right-to-Work.”  Apparently, it’s good for getting donations.  “Even before the Legislature passed the measure on Friday in a fast-track process, Mr. Walker’s political backers were raising money on the issue.”

Let’s be clear: the ability “to scoop up major donors” should not be the #1 qualification to become President.

It’s not something to be proud of.

The willingness to say one thing publicly, and something else to mega-donors – that’s not something to be proud of, either.

Eagerness to embrace divide-and-conquer as a political strategy?  That’s beyond the pale.

Stamp_Stampede
The 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.

Iron Workers Local 7 Endorse Patrick Arnold for Mayor of Manchester

IronWorkers International Logo

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – This week the Iron Workers Local 7 endorsed former Alderman Patrick Arnold in his bid for mayor of New Hampshire’s largest city.

“We’re proud to endorse Patrick Arnold for Mayor of Manchester,” says Local 7 business agent Steven Burk. “Patrick has a strong record of standing with working families of New Hampshire. As Mayor, he will make job creation and economic growth a priority again in Manchester,” Burk continued.

“I’m proud to have the support of the Iron Workers in our campaign for mayor,” says Arnold. “Like many of us, they know that Manchester deserves better than the status quo. With new leadership, Manchester can again lead in being the best place to live, work and raise a family in New Hampshire,” Arnold continued.

Iron Workers Local 7, which represents nearly 3,000 members, joins the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 856, and hundreds of former and current elected officials and community activists in endorsing Arnold’s bid for mayor.

Patrick Arnold is a candidate for mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire. Arnold served as a Manchester Alderman from 2009 until 2014. In 2013, he was the Democratic candidate for mayor against Mayor Ted Gatsas, the Republican incumbent. Gatsas held off Arnold’s challenge in 2013 by 943 votes. In March 2014, the Manchester Board of Aldermen unanimously confirmed Arnold’s appointment to the city’s Conduct Committee. An attorney by trade, Arnold earned his law degree at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He and his wife, Kathy, have a daughter, Abigail.

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