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The DI Report: Money in Politics Resources

Monday, September 14, 2015

This special edition of the DI Report is an overview and resource on money in politics to which you can refer and use in your work. While much of this week is focused on the Journey for Justice and voting rights, we are committed to keeping both issues at the center of our democracy reform efforts.

At our December convening last year, groups indicated that they wanted DI to act as a “Democracy Docent,” providing guidance for groups for which democracy has not been a primary focus. This newsletter is meant to fulfill that purpose and this is our second newsletter in the series following our first DI Report: Voting Rights Edition.

This year marks the 5th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case in which it held that political spending is protected under the First Amendment, as well as the first anniversary of McCutcheon, in which the Supreme Court declared aggregate limits on political spending unconstitutional. These decisions, with Citizens United in particular, have transformed the landscape for election related fundraising – a fact most find distressing as poll after poll indicates Americans feel that our elected officials are out of touch with our real needs.

We anticipate you using this newsletter as a starting point for resources to engage your members, supporters, and constituents as we collectively mobilize millions to build a government that fulfills the promise of American democracy – a government of, by, and for the people.

1. Expert Money in Politics Organizations

2. Information and Resources

3. Messaging, Reporters, & Social Media

4. Opportunities for Reform 
  

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1. EXPERT MONEY IN POLITICS ORGANIZATIONS
Within the Democracy Initiative, organizations with an expertise in money in politics are a core component of our network and coalition. Their research, advocacy, and organizing capabilities help provide all of us with the expertise and with the resources necessary to educate, organize and advocate.
 

Democracy Initiative Organizations: 

 

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Other Resource & Advocacy Organizations: 

 

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2. INFORMATION & RESOURCES
This section highlights key reports and resources for the Democracy Initiative network. 

Featured Reports from Democracy Initiative Partners:

Democracy & Elections

  • Across the Aisle
    In the fall of 2014, Free Speech For People released an updated report highlighting more than 100 Republican officials across the country who have called for a 28th Amendment to reclaim our democracy, along with other prominent Republicans who have condemned the Citizens United ruling. [Free Speech For People]
  • Billion Dollar Democracy
    Demos and U.S. PIRG analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission found that our big money system distorts democracy and creates clear winners and losers. [Demos & US PIRG]
  • Democracy At Stake 
    It’s no secret that money has dominated American politics for decades or more—and that its grip on our democratic process has never been tighter. [Demos]
  • The Dominance of Big Money in the 2014 Elections 
    Democracy has at its heart a basic promise: citizens have an equal voice in deciding who represents them. Large donors accounted for the vast majority of all individual federal election contributions this cycle, just as they have in previous elections. [Demos]
  • Elections Confidential
    This report describes how secret donors poured hundreds of millions into the 2012 election through “social welfare” non-profits that are really political vehicles and via shell corporations formed as conduits to hide a funder’s identity. [US PIRG & Center for Media and Democracy]
  • The Money Chase
    This report examines the role of money in the 2014 congressional elections from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives, and demonstrates how matching small political contributions with limited public funds can change the campaign landscape for grassroots candidates. [Demos & US PIRG]
  • Super Connected
    Super Connected is a series of reports by Public Citizen that highlights the growing trend of unregulated independent expenditure groups devoted to a single candidate or party. [Public Citizen]
  • Undefeated: “People’s Pledge” Maintains Near Perfect Record at Deterring Unregulated Outside Spending
    The number of candidates proposing variations on the “People’s Pledge” to deter outside groups from spending large sums to influence elections increased dramatically in 2014. [Public Citizen]

Environment and Climate Change

  • Kingpins of Carbon 
    Greenpeace research has shed light on the sources of paralysis, a multi-decade war on democracy by the kingpins of carbon – the coal, oil, and gas industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian billionaires. [Greenpeace USA]
  • Polluting our Democracy and our Environment: Dirty Fuels Money in Politics 
    The Sierra Club and Oil Change International connect the amount of money spent by fossil fuel industry to influence elections and the return on investment they receive in the form of subsidies and other anti-regulatory changes in their favor. [Sierra Club & Oil Change International]
  • Silencing Science 
    How Citizens United and Fossil Fuel Campaign Cash Has Silenced Public Debate on Climate Change. [Common Cause]

Race & Money

Transparency & Outside Spending

Newsletters & Clips 

  • Every Voice: Big donors just spent a lot of money on the 2014 election, what will they expect in 2015? Keep track of those stories, news on 2016, election law changes, and more with our daily money in politics newsletter.
  • ReThink Media Echo Chamber: Newsletter featuring topics reverberating in Money in Politics and Fair Courts.
  • Common Cause Democracy Download: Occasional updates on money in politics and voting rights legislation and litigation. 
  • Brennan Center: Newsletter featuring news and updates in the world of money in politics.

Blogs, Listservs & Other Resources

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3. MESSAGING, REPORTERS, & SOCIAL MEDIA

Messaging
Two brand new polling and message projects exploring democracy and money in politics issues have just been completed by the Democracy Initiative and ReThink Media. Join us and the Ford Foundation, Lake Research Partners, Demos, and Topos Partnership next Thursday September 24 at 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at ReThink Media in DC for a double briefing of the freshest research on communicating democracy issues. Lunch will be provided and RSVPs are required for building security. Click here to reserve your spot and stay tuned for more information!

For a comprehensive look at money in politics polling and messaging over the past couple years, please contact Tyler Creighton at ReThink Media for access to their library.

Reporters
The following reporters and journalists are frequent writers about all things money in politics. This list will be helpful in pitching a story or even just figuring out who to follow. Available contact information and Twitter handles are included. Additionally, check out this handy twitter list of top money in politics Reporters from ReThink Media. For a complete database of money in politics reporters, contact Tyler Creighton at ReThink Media.  
 

REBECCA BALLHAUS

National Politics and Campaign Finance

Wall Street Journal

rebecca.ballhaus@wsj.com

202.862.9239

@rebeccaballhaus

 

PAUL BLUMENTHAL

Money in Politics Reporter

Huffington Post

paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com

212.652.6400

@PaulBlu

 

ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY

Political Money & Election Law

Congressional Quarterly

ecarney@cqrollcall.com

202.650.6832

@ElizaRules 

 

RUSS CHOMA

Money in Politics Staff Reporter

Mother Jones

rchoma@motherjones.com

202.347.7958

@russchoma

 

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

Money in Politics Reporter

New York Times

nconfess@nytimes.com

212.556.1234

@nickconfessore

MATEA GOLD

National Political Reporter

Washington Post

matea.gold@washingtonpost.com

202.334.9301

@mateagold

 

ERIC LICHTBLAU

Money in Politics Political Reporter

New York Times

ericl@nytimes.com

202.862.0396

@EricLichtblau

 

PETER OVERBY

Power, Money, & Influence Correspondent

NPR

poverby@npr.org

202.513.2264

@peteroverby

 

FREDREKA SCHOUTEN 

Money in Politics Reporter

USA Today

fschouten@usatoday.com

202.906.8158

@fschouten

 

JON SCHWARZ 

Money in Politics

Senior Editor

The Intercept

jon.schwarz@theintercept.com

@tinyrevolution 


 

Social Media
Here are some hashtags to follow on social media, keeping you up to date on money in politics topics.
 

#GetMoneyOut – General hashtag 

#BetterPolitics – Executive Order Campaign to disclose contributions by federal contractors 

#FightBigMoney – New general hashtag pertaining to the 2016 election 

#DemocracyForAll – Constitutional amendment campaign 

#SECDisclose – SEC corporate disclosure campaign 

#NHRebellion – New Hampshire money in politics campaign
 

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4. POLICY & OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFORM
These categories for reform encompass the scope of the work on money in politics nationally and in states. There are already many efforts in states to bring these reforms to fruition. Please reach out and stay tuned for more information on ways your organization can get involved!

Key Federal Legislation & Campaigns

Featured State & Local Legislation and Campaigns

  • New York Fair Elections: Instead of accepting a handful of huge donations from corporations, lobbyists and the rich, candidates would raise a large number of small contributions from everyday voters, because each time a small-dollar donor makes a contribution, it’s matched by public funds.
  • Mainers for Accountable Elections: The ballot initiative will give Mainers the opportunity to restore the Maine Clean Elections Act, supporting small donor contributions with a matched funds component to ensure that candidates have adequate resources to compete against big money.
  • Honest Elections Seattle: Campaign for the public financing (I-122) shines a light on dark money in our elections by restricting campaign donations from city contractors, regulated businesses, and their lobbyists, by speeding up disclosure of campaign donations, and by setting strict lower contributions limits.
  • Fair Elections Maryland: Fair Elections Maryland is a joint project of Common Cause Maryland and Progressive Maryland to establish small donor funding for local and statewide elections. Taking a county-by-county approach, Montgomery County has successfully enacted small donor funding, with the Howard County campaign ready to launch in the coming months.
  • NH Rebellion: The New Hampshire Rebellion is a cross-partisan movement of citizens mobilizing the public and presidential candidates to declare their independence from big money in politics by denouncing outside spending and committing to fundamental reforms. 

    Please note: Although this newsletter is expansive, it is by no means exhaustive and we may have left out important tools and resources. If you feel we missed something, please contact me atstrambley@democracyinitiative.org and I can incorporate your suggestions into future editions.


    Thank you for tuning in to this edition of the DI Report. Other publications and materials will follow in the weeks and months ahead. Please stay tuned!

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