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
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:
Other Resource & Advocacy Organizations:
This section highlights key reports and resources for the Democracy Initiative network.
Featured Reports from Democracy Initiative Partners:
- Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda
Earlier this year, twelve organizations released an agenda supporting commonsense protections that recognize the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics, which is eroding the very foundation of self-government.
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
- Color of Money
Every Voice Center analyzed July fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by the candidate committees and affiliated super PACs of the 10 presidential candidates currently leading the money race, based on their current reporting. [Every Voice Center]
- Stacked Deck: How the Dominance of Politics by the Affluent and Business Undermines Economic Mobility in America
This paper offers an overview of the interplay between declining upward mobility and growing political inequality, which we show is a self-reinforcing phenomenon. [Demos]
- Stacked Deck: How the Racial Bias in Our Big Money Political System Undermines Our Democracy and Our Economy
This follow-up report reveals how the distortions of money in politics also hold back the policies that would advance racial equity and fulfill the promise of a multiracial democracy. [Demos]
Transparency & Outside Spending
- Barely One-Fourth of the Largest Government Contractors Disclose Contributions to Outside Electioneering Groups
This analysis shows that voluntary disclosure is far from comprehensively offered by the set of businesses for which such details should matter most to taxpayers. [Public Citizen]
- Do Corporations and Unions Face the Same Rules for Political Spending?
This paper highlights the differences and broad implications of rules governing political spending by corporations and unions. [Demos]
- Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act
The problem of the revolving door, the movement of officials in a conflict of interest situation from government positions and into the same private sector they had previously regulated, is one of the most pernicious factors that erodes the public’s trust in American government. [Public Citizen]
- Inside Job
How an Influential Group of Doctors Exerts Influence Over Medicare Payments to Physicians. [Public Citizen]
- Mission Creep-y
Google Is Quietly Becoming One of the Nation’s Most Powerful Political Forces While Expanding Its Information-Collection Empire. [Public Citizen]
- Unlimited and Undisclosed
The Religious Right’s Crusade to Deregulate Political Spending. [Common Cause]
- Whose Government? Whose Voice?
This Common Cause report explores five key issue areas where unfettered political spending and influence have blocked progress on solutions that large, bipartisan majorities of Americans support. [Common Cause]
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
- ReThink Media Collaborative Communications Initiative (CCI): Supports groups that work to strengthen democracy, curb the influx of money in politics, and ensure an independent judiciary free of outside influence. The project seeks to build the capacity of organizations and broaden the movement for reform and aims to help channel the growing outrage at decisions such as Citizens United into effective action. Specific projects include:
- ReThink Media’s MIP & Fair Courts List: Google Group with advocates, activists, and experts from the money in politics community. Contact Tyler Creighton to join.
- ReThink Facebook page – Get Money Out Admins: Facebook group dedicated to sharing images and graphics related to money in politics. Contact Tyler Creighton to join.
- GetMoneyOutAction.org: Web and action site by Public Citizen dedicated to money in politics actions and organizing. Contact Phil Anderson for more information.
- Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog: Rick Hasen, law and politics professor at UC Irvine, authors this blog covering the law of politics and politics of law., specifically covering election law, campaign finance, legislation, voting rights, redistricting, and the Supreme Court nomination process.
- Dirty Energy Money: The Dirty Energy Money website shows which companies are dumping their dirty money into politics, and which politicians are receiving it, offering the best data available on contributions from the fossil fuel industry to decision-makers.
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.
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.
National Politics and Campaign Finance
Wall Street Journal
Money in Politics Reporter
ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY
Political Money & Election Law
Money in Politics Staff Reporter
Money in Politics Reporter
New York Times
National Political Reporter
Money in Politics Political Reporter
New York Times
Power, Money, & Influence Correspondent
Money in Politics Reporter
Money in Politics
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
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
- Democracy for All Amendment (H.J.Res. 22/S.J.Res 19): The Democracy For All Amendment allows for Congress and the States to set overall limits on campaign spending, including prohibitions on corporate and union spending in the political process (as existed prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC). Check out the toolkits by People for the American Way and Free Speech for People.
- Government by the People Act (H.R. 20)/Fair Elections Now Act (S. 1538): These bills, introduced by Rep. Sarbanes (MD) and Sen. Durbin (IL) respectively, would create a small-donor matched public finance system to amplify the voices of everyday Americans. Check out Every Voice’s site OfBy.Us for more information and this explainer from Demos for more information.
- DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 430/S.229): After the Supreme Court removed barriers to corporate political spending in the 2010 Citizens United case, members of Congress introduced the DISCLOSE Act to help citizens keep track of who is spending money to influence our votes and elected officials. Check out this explainer from Common Cause.
- Federal Contractor Disclosure Executive Order Campaign: This campaign, organized by Public Citizen, urges the President to sign an Executive Order that mandates government contractors disclose their political spending.
- Corporate Accountability Campaign: Responsible corporate governance requires the involvement of informed shareholders and is not a partisan issue. Holding management accountable and ensuring that political spending decisions are made transparently and in pursuit of sound business is important for both the market and for democracy. Be sure to check out this toolkit from the Corporate Reform Coalition.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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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