Grassroots group met in Manchester to look back, plan ahead
Grassroots activists with the NH Rebellion gathered in Manchester last night to review highlights of its recent We the People Convention and honor recipients of the group’s “Granny D” Awards for their work on campaign finance reform.
People who received the 2016 “Granny D” Awards include:
- Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes (Democrat);
- North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones (Republican);
- NH state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark;
- NH state Sen. David Pierce;
- NH Rebellion volunteers Corinne Dodge, Dick Pollock, Mary and Jake Redway, and Kathy Thorndike;
- Founder of Americans for Campaign Reform John Rauh, recipient of the “Lifetime Reformer Award.”
“It is a joy to be able to celebrate a few of those people who are representative of the campaign finance reform movement,” said NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks. “We could not possibly do justice to everybody who has made massive contributions to the movement, but we are delighted to honor this year’s recipients of the ‘Granny D’ Awards.”
“Congressman John Sarbanes is not just a legislative leader, but also someone who truly believes that we must fix this problem first, if we are going to have the democracy that we deserve,” Weeks said. “It isn’t just his head – but also his heart – that is in this.” Rep. Sarbanes joined the inaugural NH Rebellion Walk from Dixville Notch to Nashua, in January 2014.
Rep. Sarbanes also spoke at the We the People Convention. “I admire Granny D more than just about anybody I’ve ever come to know about,” he said. “I’m absolutely convinced that someday, when we get this done, we’re going to look back at the footsoldiers of this movement: all of you who have stepped up to make it happen. This is the most consequential thing we can do.”
“Congressman Walter Jones believes fervently in this issue, in large part out of his personal faith as a Catholic,” Weeks said. “Congressman Jones believes that it is a ‘moral stain’ on our nation that some people are ‘more equal’ than others because they have more money than others. If you have the chance to look him up on-line, hear his testimony on this issue, I think you’ll be as moved as I have been.” Rep. Jones is a cosponsor of HR. 20, the Government by the People Act.
State “Sen. Martha Fuller Clark has been a long-time supporter of Granny D, and has been tireless and courageous throughout her long career in fighting for campaign finance reform,” said Open Democracy Co-Chair Gordon Allen. “This includes sponsoring bills to establish small-donor citizen-funded elections, chairing the Citizen-Funded Election Task Force, and most recently, sponsoring Senate Bill 136 to overturn the Citizens United decision that passed the Senate unanimously. She is a true leader and like Granny D, she is steadfast in her beliefs and there is no ‘quit’ in her.”
“Over the last decade, Sen. David Pierce has earned respect from both sides of the aisle as the Legislature’s foremost authority on election law,” Allen said. “He has been a tireless leader in sponsoring and passing a series of innovative bills to safeguard voting rights and reform our campaign finance system. Most recently and against tremendous odds, he shepherded through a major reform bill requiring full disclosure of electioneering spending by political committees – using a remarkable combination of Granny D perseverance and commitment, legislative skill, and commanding expertise. We are truly blessed to have Sen. Pierce fighting leading the charge for reform in the Legislature.”
“To make a movement: it takes people who write letters, who send emails, who make phone calls, who meet with legislators; it takes people who talk with their neighbors; people who show up in freezing winter weather and walk. Corinne Dodge has done all of that, and more,” said NH Rebellion Deputy Director Brian Beihl. “Corinne exemplifies the can-do attitude that this movement is about. Corinne made hundreds – maybe thousands – of phone calls to legislators to try to get SB 136 passed.” That bill – which called for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending in elections, was passed unanimously by the NH Senate but later floundered and was killed in a controversial re-vote by the NH House. Dodge is a resident of Derry, NH, where she was very involved in last year’s unanimous Town Council vote to endorse overturning Citizens United.
“I can’t say enough about Dick Pollock,” Allen said. “On the first Walk, he shepherded us around, he arranged places for people to stay, he took thousands of photographs. He created a video memorial of Granny D. When I was looking for people to join the Board, I was only half-way through my pitch when he said ‘yes.’ He has been a tremendous support for us.” Pollock is a resident of North Conway, NH.
“Mary and Jake Redway come as a pair, and they’ve been here since the very beginning,” said NH Rebellion Outreach Manager Xanni Brown. “They have walked countless miles with the NH Rebellion, they have been active with WolfPAC in their home state, they are working with Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakens. The two of them are incredibly committed activists, and I am honored to have gotten to know them through their work with the Rebellion.” The Redways live in Providence, RI.
“Kathy Thorndike has walked, and volunteered, and made phone calls, and sent emails,” Beihl said. “She has worked tirelessly, gotten up at the crack of dawn to help us out. She has done so much for this movement, and I thank her for that.” Thorndike lives in North Sandwich, NH.
“John Rauh, running in the 1990s on a platform of campaign finance reform, lost his race for the US Senate by a whisker. The issue wasn’t very popular then. He had finished a career in business, and then – at a time when he could have easily retired and perfected his tennis swing – he decided instead to devote the next 20 years of his life to building this movement,” Weeks said. Rauh was the founder and President of Americans for Campaign Reform, which is now part of Issue One. He lives in New Castle, NH.
NH Rebellion volunteers met for a celebratory dinner last night in the group’s office in the basement of 66 Hanover Street, Manchester. Members were briefed on the three-day We the People Convention in Veterans Park, which brought together hundreds of activists, experts and some well-known voices to talk about campaign finance reform. Highlights of the Convention are available on the NH Rebellion YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/NHRebellion.
“During the Convention, best-selling author Marianne Williamson called this ‘the greatest moral issue of our generation.’ Actor Sam Waterston said campaign finance is ‘central to the way democracy works.’ For three days, speaker after speaker – from both political parties – talked about this issue and this election as a turning point in American history,” Weeks said. “But relatively few of our volunteers were able to join us for all three days of the Convention. This dinner was a way for our members to catch up on what they missed, and to discuss what comes next. The New Hampshire primary may be over, but the campaign finance crisis is worse than ever. We need to fix the problem, and get our country back to having a government ‘of the People’ rather than ‘of the political donors.’”