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Nuns on the Bus Stop in Concord for Rally to “Mend the Gaps”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus Sr Simone Campbell

Sr. Simone Campbell addresses the crowd, while some of the Nuns on the Bus take shelter from the heat under umbrellas.

About 125 Granite Staters braved today’s heat to meet Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus at a State House rally to “Mend the Gaps” between us that weaken society, including gaps in income, healthcare, housing and access to democracy.

Campbell and nearly 20 Catholic sisters from around the country are visiting 13 states and both major party conventions on a tour that began July 11.  The tour’s goal is “to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion.  NETWORK’s 44 year-old faith-filled political message is an alternative to the anger, fear, and polarization of this election cycle.  We believe in faithful citizenship, which compels us to travel the country to listen to the lived experiences of people in their communities and hold elected officials accountable to the promises they have made to legislate for the common good.”

The sisters are caucusing with local advocates in Manchester tonight, and will hold a rally in Boston tomorrow starting at 10:00 am on the front lawn of Boston College High School, 150 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125.  The full tour schedule is available at www.nunsonthebus.org.

At today’s rally, the sisters distributed brochures comparing candidates’ positions on “Mending the Gaps.”  Download the brochure comparing Kelly Ayotte with Maggie Hassan here and the brochure comparing Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump here.

Granite Staters shared their stories about the growing gaps in our economy which are making the American dream unattainable for too many families.

  • Jazmine Langley and Olivia Zink of Open Democracy signed the Bus before it left Concord, on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    Jazmine Langley, a Democracy Fellow with Open Democracy/NH, spoke about the challenges facing her as a biracial woman. “I have seen oppression up close. I have witnessed the gaps woven into the fabric of our country that are very much racially and socioeconomically based. From drug addiction to poverty. From police brutality to mass imprisonment. From strict voter ID laws to felon disenfranchisement. Our elected representatives and ourselves need to be held accountable for mending this gap. Whether that is by trying to spark legal reform in getting big money out politics, registering more voters, or fighting voter suppression laws, doing non-profit work dedicated to some aspect of this issue, or just educating yourselves, families, friends, and children about the issue at hand – it all makes a difference. This is our democracy, so this is our fight!”  You can watch Jazmine’s speech here.

  • Amy Shaw, a mother of two living in Rochester spoke about the challenge of finding affordable childcare. “Even with both my husband and I working, we couldn’t afford to send our kids to daycare. I had to quit my job because my monthly income wasn’t going to cover my childcare costs.” Watch Amy’s remarks here.
  • Jen Cole, of Pittsfield, said “Low wages make it challenging to pay the bills week to week but nearly impossible when life throws you a curveball. My husband was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and could not work for several months. We had to survive off of my income and rely on family and friends to help us through what was already a difficult time. If someone is working full time they should be able to make ends meet and not have to fear they’ll lose everything if they get sick.”
  • Sister Eileen Brady, of Nashua, is a Social Worker and Advocate at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. As a Sister of Mercy, she has been a staunch advocate for peace and justice for decades.  “The Sisters of Mercy have been trying to ‘Mend the Gaps’ since 1858,” Sister Eileen said.  She shared stories of people she has met through the Nashua Soup Kitchen, “My friends who have no place to live tonight.”  You can watch her remarks here.

“Pope Francis challenges all people to come together to work for the common good,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which launched the first Nuns on the Bus tour during the 2012 presidential campaign. “On our journey as Nuns on the Bus we will talk to those Pope Francis voters and, hopefully, inspire them to make mending the gaps the defining issue of the 2016 election.”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus crowd2

Part of today’s crowd on the State House lawn.

“Every New Hampshire family deserves a fair shot at the American dream but rising costs, stagnant wages and unfair workplace policies are putting that dream out of reach for too many working people,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, a co-sponsor of the Concord rally.  “The visit from the Nuns on the Bus today highlights the need for family friendly policy solutions that lift workers and make our communities stronger.”

Today’s program was emceed by Gail Kenney of the United Church of Christ Economic Justice Mission Group.  Jack Bopp and Arnie Alpert led everyone in a rousing rendition of “We’re All Riding with the Nuns on The Bus.”  Opening prayers were offered by Rev. Gary M. Schulte, the Conference Minister of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Woullard Lett, president of the Manchester, NH branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Today’s rally was cosponsored by organizations including AFSC’s NH Program, NH Voices of Faith, Granite State Organizing Project, United Church of Christ Economic Justice Ministry, NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, NH Sisters of Mercy, and Stamp Stampede.

 

 

 

Will You Pledge To End The Corrupting Influence Of Money In Politics?

“What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of big money in politics?”

NHR-Sign copyOur political system is broken. Our democracy is failing us, the people.  Our elected leaders in Washington are not listening to us, they are only listening to the special interest groups that are dumping billions of money into election campaigns.

The New Hampshire Rebellion has been pushing a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to help end the corruption in Washington, and they are now asking for our help!

New Hampshire, and similarly in Iowa, candidates are hosting events in our local communities on a weekly basis.  Some days it seems like you cannot drive across town without bumping into at least one Presidential campaign.  This is where you can help.

The next time you are at an event, or a candidate knocks on your door, as them to answer this one question:

“What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence
of big money in politics?”

The NH Rebellion is looking for people and candidates to take the pledge to end the corruptive influence of money in politics.

“I call on all candidates to champion the We the People reform agenda to restore government “of, by, and for the people.”

  1. Expose secret donors and require full transparency
  2. Ban bribes from lobbyists and government contractors
  3. Ban Super PACs and overturn Citizens United
  4. Establish small-donor, citizen-funded elections
  5. End gerrymandering and modernize voter registration
  6. Close loopholes and enforce campaign finance laws

To help kick start their pledge political activists and concerned citizens have crossed party lines to create a new video asking everyone to “ask the question.”

Will you take the pledge to end the corruption in Washington???

On Independence Day NH Rebellion and NH Stamp Stampede Rally Against Corruption

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On July 4th, Hundreds to Celebrate the Declaration of Independence and Call for “Rebellion” Against Modern-Day Corruption in Politics

Public Reading of Declaration of Independence Concludes 36-mile “Walk for Independence” to Portsmouth, NH

PORTSMOUTH, NH — After the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, prints were made, couriers dispatched, and the Declaration read in towns throughout the colonies, including Portsmouth.  This Saturday, July 4th, hundreds of citizen rebels again gather to hear the entire Declaration in Prescott Park as part of a new rebellion against big money politics.  

Hosted by the NH Rebellion, the reading of the Declaration of Independence will be done by former Democratic State Senator Burt Cohen and former Republican State Representative and Assistant US Secretary of State Betty Tamposi.  The cross-partisan reading and “Rally for Independence” come at the end of NH Rebellion’s July 4th “Walk for Independence” from Rochester and Hampton to Portsmouth.  The walks follow in the footsteps of legendary NH reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who walked across the United States at the age of 90 to protest big money in politics.

“Just like in the American Revolution, the citizens are angry. Angry that their vote doesn’t carry as much weight as a big corporation, which doesn’t even have a vote,”  said Dan Weeks, a leader of the NH Rebellion.  “We’re out to change that, and demand that candidates for office take action against this corruption when they get to office,” he said.

The event begins at 4:30 as free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is served to walkers and anyone who attends the rally, followed by the reading of the Declaration at 5 p.m. and speakers from the NH Rebellion.   Citizens are still welcome to register for the free walk at walk.nhrebellion.org as well as attend the rally.

Lawrence Lessig, founder of the NH Rebellion, will be speaking at the rally.   Lessig is a Harvard Law School Professor and internationally known expert on intellectual property, but has turned his time to organizing against the influence of big money in politics.   His TED Talk “We the People” has had over 1.2 million views on YouTube and Lessig has spoken around the United States and with every major news outlet.  This will be the eighth large-scale walk of the NH Rebellion since 2014. NH Rebellion is part of Open Democracy, the NH nonpartisan organization dedicated to transparent and accountable governance.

RALLY SCHEDULE:

4:30 PM – Walkers gather at Prescott Park (free Ben & Jerry’s served)
5:00 PM – Rally for Independence featuring Declaration of Independence reading by Burt Cohen and Betty Tamposi, speech by Lawrence Lessig, theatrics
5:30 PM – Rally ends and walkers depart (free rides back to parking)

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.

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’.”

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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!

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