WPC Broadcast Email
Court rulings. Senate Hearing on Citizens United; and more.
Citizens United. Secret political money. A presidential race
on track to shatter all fundraising records. A Congress paralyzed
by constant pressure to raise money, and captured by the special
interests that give. Has there ever been
a more important time to get the big money out of politics?" reads a letter from Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
and I borrow their language.
In the Montana case, the Supreme Court
added fuel to the fires of outrage with a brief
unsigned opinion that re-asserts the dominance of the Citizens
United decision over state laws. The ruling also permanently
overturns a 100-year state law in Montana - now allowing unlimited
corporate spending to influence campaigns and elections. Read details
in the New
York Times or Common
Dollars continue to flow, shattering
previous fundraising records. Read here (OpenSecrets.org) how the Supreme Court transformed
the campaign finance landscape through Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission and how the decision
is now affecting U.S. politics.
Grassroots alarm and
political pressure is having an impact
resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors was adopted
in June, with a tough no-nonsense preamble and a statement that
corporations must not receive the same legal rights as natural persons
and the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United must be
reversed. This action provides leadership to local cities and towns
to take similar action.
sure the U.S. senators hear from us! We want Citizens United
overturned; our democracy must NOT be for sale!
Corporations are not people, money is not
speech, and we want a Constitutional amendment that restores
authentic democracy in America, with public financing of campaigns
and tough rules that stop lobbyists and their well-heeled clients
from buying favors in Congress.
advocates have been urging existing state legislators to sign
on to a Joint Legislative Letter to Congress, calling for
a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Through
this advocacy work, we're laying the groundwork for a formal resolution
(called a "Joint Memorial Resolution") to be adopted by
the state legislature in 2013 adding our state's voice to
those of Hawaii, New Mexico and Vermont, calling for a constitutional
28th amendment to overturn the provisions of the Citizens United
join the Citizens
Petition effort, asking city councils to put an Advisory
Measure on the November ballot so that voters can directly
express their views.
your city or county to Adopt
a City/County Resolution calling for a 28th Amendment
to declare that corporations are not persons, and political contributions
(by corporations and Super PACs) must be regulated, so the voice
of We The People is not drowned or out-shouted.
ask your union, district organization, or any social action group,
an Organization Resolution calling for the city or
county to act, urging a 28th Amendment.
Advocates are collecting petition signatures, asking the city council
to act to place a Citizens Advisory Measure on the November ballot
in Seattle, and hopefully other cities in WA State.
ARE YOU STEAMED
at the avalanche of special-interest money in campaigns? You can take action to
stop it (details below).
United court decision has already unleashed tens of
millions in this year's campaigns and elections, allowing Super-PACs
to receive and spend unlimited funds to buy results through a tsunami
of ads and mailings. It's going to get worse before it's over.
ads influence what individual voters think and do often with
information that is misleading or untrue. And they freeze out the
views of ordinary voters and candidates who lack huge financial
backers. How can voters possibly keep their bearings in the tsunami
and political wind of such spending?
Worse, the 2010 court decision allows Wall Street
special interests to swamp what we really need to reclaim lawmaking
for people: public
financing of campaigns. Like it or not, campaigns cost money
to get messages to voters, and that won't change. What we CAN
change and we must is the source
of campaign financing. Public financing of campaigns is essential
to reclaiming authentic democracy for people.
To clear the way for public financing
to stop Wall Street from hijacking our democracy we must
overturn the Citizens United ruling. And to achieve that,
we need to amend the Constitution. There's progress...
news! To date, twelve
proposed amendments have been introduced in Congress. Now
we need to apply grassroots political wind to these proposals!
which may gain traction next year after the 2012 elections.
show that people overwhelmingly disagree with Citizens United
and want a return to voter-owned democracy. We need strategies to
make visible what voters want. Rallies. Citizen lobbying. And direct
voting on the issue this fall!
Here's how to help. It's a two-level effort:
First, is an effort to ask state legislators to sign onto a
Letter a joint letter by whomever will sign, calling
on the Congress to amend the Constitution.
Please join advocates in your legislative
district and ask your state legislators to sign. Legislators can
the generic letter here and mail it in. But they
need to be asked and urged to sign. That's what you must
Just think: If these "Advisories"
are on the city ballot in November, and voters approve, it would
be a city-wide voter "shout" to overturn Citizens United
and amend the Constitution to declare that corporations are not
flesh-and-blood persons and should not be mucking
around in our democracy!
By the way If city councils think Citizens
United and a Constitutional amendment to overturn it
is unimportant or unrelated to governance of a city, they're
wrong! Launch a petition drive in your city to tell them.
Citizens United ruling allows deep-pocketed Wall Street entities
to shape campaign financing, elections and lawmaking for years to
come potentially influencing what cities can do regarding
elections, budgets, federal block grants, services and much more.
Allowing corporations to spend unlimited sums
to dominate elections should be an important concern at every level:
local, state, and national.
Let's not be silent! It's a year of great
opportunity to make progress on our mission: to reclaim democracy
itself for We The People. We need all hands on deck!
ALERT Reclaim Citizens Initiative process for voters!
Two bills are scheduled for a public hearing,
Monday, January 30th, 1:30 PM - in the House State Government &
Tribal Affairs Committee.
2499 would require disclosure of spending on political advertising
for or against ballot measures. HB
2500 would restrict contributions to PACs supporting or
opposing ballot measures, to $1,600 per donor.
The net effect: To begin to reclaim the "Citizens"
Initiative process in our state, and reverse trends whereby ballot
measures have become auctions where the highest bidder backing a
Please contact your state legislators, and let
them know what you think!
UPDATE ON COMMITTEE
the public hearing on January 30th, HB 2499 was approved by
committee on a "Do Pass" recommendation to the full
House. HB 2500 was not approved - the committee declined even
to take a vote on the bill, perhaps out of concern that it
would be challenged in federal court.
It is possible - although unlikely - that HB 2500 could be
revived by attaching it as an amendment to HB 2499, sometime
later in the legislative process.
Regardless, the paramount issue remains: our state's citizens
initiative process has gone for sale to deep-pocketed special
interests, mostly corporate. To recapture the process for
ordinary citizens, we're going to have to overturn the Supreme
Court's Citizens United ruling, so that corporations can not
longer buy election results through massive spending.
Best is to call their office directly, or send
a brief email. Or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Operators at the Hotline will take down your brief comments, for
your three district legislators.
If you send an email, I suggest put "Support
HB 2499 and HB 2500" in the Subject line and
make your comments brief. Legislators simply need to know we're
paying attention, and want prompt action.
And the Committee needs to act before
Tuesday's January 31st calendar cutoff for bills to
move forward! So, this is urgent.
~ Craig Salins, WA Public Campaigns
VIDEO: Craig Salins summarizes how
Corporate Personhood and Citizens United undermine democracy
and how to reverse that.
Please join our
rally this Saturday, Jan. 21st,
calling for reversal of the Supreme Court's Citizens United
decision (in 2010). Street theater is featured as well as speakers,
a petition, and Congressman Jim McDermott. Seattle
rally flier - right-click text link to save
Democracy is not a
spectator sport! and a healthy turnout (even in this weather!)
will demonstrate our resolve.
You may know: Many
organizations are calling for a Constitutional amendment that would
clarify that corporations are not natural persons, and so should
not be allowed to spend unlimited sums on electioneering. Also that
such "speech" by corporate entities is not protected under
the First Amendment, so that Congress and the states would be allowed
to regulate campaign spending and to require robust disclosure -
in appropriate ways.
Such Constitutional amendments would clearly
authorize two essential changes to reclaim authentic democracy in
America: public financing of campaigns, and regulating whether lobbyists
are allowed to empower their lobbying voice by sponsoring fund raisers
for members of Congress or candidates.
This year is one of opportunity, partly because bread-and-butter
issues are so stark, and everyone is paying attention. We are already
seen unconscionable spending, mostly by super PACs, to influence
campaigns and elections. And, the Occupy movement has raised important
questions about wealth and poverty in America.
In coming weeks, we'll
be posting and sending more information about strategies for action
this year. It's no time to be inactive or silent!
~ Craig Salins, WPC
Comments at Occupy
Seattle Rally, November 19, 2011 We must fix what's very wrong in Americaby Craig Salins
you. It is an honor to be here, to be part of this important, historic
We are making history!It is time.
It may take awhile, but we must not stop until we prevail!
Friends something is very wrong
And this movement is about fundamental
change to fix that, and to fix it permanently.
The Occupy movement is not just tents
on a patch of land. It is a national awakening, a state of
mind and a commitment to action, to bring about economic
fairness and social justice in this land.
Occupy is growing awareness that something
is very wrong in America, when the top one percent take one-quarter
of all national income more than the bottom 50 percent
Something is very wrong in America when
the top one percent own more wealth than the bottom ninety percent
combined with the enormous political power that goes
with this concentration of wealth, in lobbying, campaign contributions,
and owning the media
Click here to see/hearLawrence
Lessig at Seattle Town Hall in October
courtesy of Ed Mays (Pirate TV). This is an hour-long presentation,
yet very worthwhile. Description of Lessig presentation:
More than ever, Americans believe money
buys results in Congress.
Lessig says corruption is a common enemy
of a divided America.
In his new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress, and a Plan to Stop It,
he examines how we arrived at this crisis, and how the economy
of influence defeats the will of the people even as he
offers strategies to correct our course.
7 , 2011
Watch "The Story of Broke"
Here is another excellent short video by the folks who brought "Story
of Stuff" and then "Story of Citizens United."
"The Story of Broke" (about 8 minutes in length)
United States isn’t broke; we’re the richest country on the
planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing
exceptionally well. But the truth is, our economy is broken,
producing more pollution, greenhouse gasses and garbage than
any other country...
It is relevant, timely and worth
watching as the country deliberates how to get our economy
going again, and whether debt and deficit, or public investment
is most needed and important. This
link (on Truthout.org)includes a written transcript
Please circulate this
to friends and neighbors.
November 8, 2011
Transactions Tax could generate $300 Billion
and bail out state and local budgets
Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) on trades in stock, currencies
and derivatives could generate upward of $300 Billion per year
in federal revenues while at the same time putting a brake
on speculative trading on Wall Street. If this were to be enacted,
the revenue could go a long way to relieving pressure on state and
local budgets, to maintain funding for services such as education,
health care, transportation and infrastructure.
FTT proposal has
been revived in Congress by Senator Tom Harkin (left,
D-Iowa) and Congressman Peter deFazio (D-Oregon). It is entitled
the "Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act"
in the Senate, and HR.3313
in the House. Given a dysfunctional Congress, it faces a
steep hurdle even though these bills propose a tax of only
0.03% per $100 traded, raising $300 billion over a ten year period.
When the financial
'wizards' on Wall Street have driven the economy over the cliff
(through a decades-long
push for deregulation of the financial services industry)
and Main Street households across America show rising anger about
unfairness in our tax system this may be a partial fix to
an economy that too-much profits by speculative trading and making
money, rather than by making things.
This is a direct appeal
from the board members of Washington Public Campaigns for urgent
financial support and beyond that, for you to participate
as a citizen-activist, if you can. Donate
You follow the news. You know the story.
We need public financing
of campaigns more than ever.
We need to overturn the Supreme Court's
Citizens United ruling to stop corporate funds from
swamping our election season with propaganda and "buying"
should clarify that democracy is for people and elections
must not be tilted by extraordinary spending by corporate or wealthy
We need robust disclosure of who is spending
on lobbying and election campaigns no more hidden donations
and laundering cash among PACS and so-called think tanks.
And where's the
"citizen" in the citizen initiative process? It should
not be "for sale" to moneyed interests who buy signatures
for ballot access and then flood the voters with misleading TV
ads and postal mailers.
Yet 2012 promises to set new records of spending
to buy election results. And then they will turn their sights to
lawmaking in Congress and you know in whose interest they'll
Will this bring a "tipping point"
of support for our advocacy work? Perhaps.
Alarming as things are, there is a public
awakening to the reforms we really need. Polls reveal it. Rallies
and street conversations confirm it. In the coming year, we can
make real progress.
But only if we have an organization
that is poised to take advantage of the "teachable moment"
and the public yearning for change and to propose the
strategies and lead the fights for real policy reform!
These fights depend on dollars for
a core organizing staff.
Without adequate funding, we simply
can't win. We depend on you!
As you probably know, WPC is and has been a
shoestring operation truly "of the people."
To fund our work, we depend on your
support. No highly-paid lobbyists work for the reforms
we need; we rely on you. Indeed, it is citizen-activists who
attend hearings and rallies, contact your legislators, and
push through the serious changes we need so that democracy
is returned to the people.
It is local volunteers who spread the
word, gather signatures, write op-eds, blogs and letters,
and spend the shoe-leather to win the fights we need to win.
But this grassroots work requires coordination.
Our annual budget has never exceeded $100,000 in fact less
than $80,000 since 2009. It pays for communications and a website,
a small office, public forums and events, and a part-time organizing
staff to keep all of this humming along. You probably agree
it's pretty meager for a statewide organization with such an important
Recently our coffers have dwindled
to the lowest level in several years. Despite growing
grassroots interest in our movement, we've had to lay off
staff and cut way back.
How ironic! Several thousand people receive
information about our work, visit our website, and come to
our gatherings, public forums and calls for citizen lobbying
action. But "membership" in WPC has been free
at the discretion of individual supporters. Of course we want
our advocacy to circulate widely no "entrance
fee." But somehow we need to pay for it.
now we're issuing an urgent plea: Can you will you make
a financial contribution, to keep our doors open and our organizing
staff at work.
We need to raise $25,000 by the end of October,
and another $35,000 or more to carry us through the 2012 legislative
That's $25-to-$100 from many of you. Or, a monthly
sustaining contribution is an especially effective way of helping
WPC to carry out its vital work.
Just think how much does a stolen democracy
cost you? How much will you save once we successfully take it
Please, will you send a contribution Washington Public Campaigns
P.O. Box 70452
Seattle, WA 98127-0452
Or contribute online: www.washclean.org/donate.htm
At this site, you can choose a one-time contribution or a monthly
Because our work includes lobbying, contributions
to WPC are not tax-deductible.
If you wish your contribution to be tax-deductible, please make
it payable to our affiliate, WPC Education Fund same address
to support public educational work on these issues.
you for your support! Together we'll fight for the genuine
democracy that we all deserve!
If you'd like a call from one
of us, please let us know.
WPC Board of Directors:
John King (President) Roger Erskine (Vice President)
John Howes (Treasurer) Jean Carlson Ken Dammand
Bill Nerin Martin Nyberg Betty Ogden Annie
Phillips Alice Woldt
Below are links to additional information
about our activities.
Or, simply visit the website:
We need a robust plan
and action like the New Deal based on real needs of
Main Street. It may take $2 trillion or more in stimulus and public
works spending. And soon.
And we need to bust
an erroneous "Big Lie" myth that a revived
economy can be achieved by cutting jobs, cutting budgets and shrinking
government. It's a myth just plain untrue:
No business enterprise
(Wall Street or Main Street) will expand and create jobs if
there are no customers. And customers appear when they have
spending power or, when our government chooses to be
"the customer" by funding big-ticket items that
we desperately need and that benefit our communities and the
nation as a whole.
we need it. We have crumbling streets and bridges; unsustainable
energy policies; schools needing upgrades, and health care
to deliver to an aging population.
a jobs program, busting myths, and real support for Main Street
may themselves depend on an aroused citizenry making demands,
and enacting game-changing reforms such as public campaign financing,
restrictions on corporate spending on elections, and media ownership
in the public interest.
And the federal deficit?
Of course it's an issue. But we all know that deficits result from
a moribund economy where 2 out of 10 workers are not working! Or
when we take on unfunded wars while simultaneously cutting taxes
for the most-wealthy among us. Or when we fail to tax ourselves
based on ability to pay to fund infrastructure and
public services at a level we all demand.
Did you know:
Taxes on the super-rich today are ONE HALF what they were several
decades ago a time when the economy was humming along with
nearly full employment. (Read Winner-Take-All Politics,
failure of our tax system to produce needed revenues is NOT an accident.
Alarmingly, it's purposeful brought about by behind-the-scenes
lobbying on behalf of those who benefit handsomely and who reward
the favors through campaign contributions and election-season
TV ads and mailings.
The sad truth
is, it's bringing down our whole economy! in essence, killing the goose
that could otherwise lay golden eggs (i.e., jobs for all, rebuilding
America, and tax revenues to pay for public services). Even multi-billionaire
Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) is speaking out, saying "stop
coddling the super-rich." Read
Buffett's Op-Ed, New York Times, 8-14-11.
If you have not read Winner-Take-All Politics:
How Washington Made the Rich Richer, and Turned Its Back on the
Middle Class by Jacob
Hacker and Paul Pierson 2010)
I highly recommend it. Their book explains in detail how and why
we've been losing out on the American Dream for decades. And a steely-eyed
diagnosis is necessary to fix any problem. Read
You know the truth. We are witnessing an
unconscionable concentration of wealth in America, at the very top.
Meanwhile, most households are having to take on second jobs (if
they can find one), credit card or mortgage debt, and a lowered
standard of living just to
Usually in a robbery we put the thieves
in jail. But now the whole country is being looted
and it's portrayed (wrongly) as "the business cycle"
or "too much government" or the failure of the political
party in power. In fact today's real thieves are those spreading
the Big Lie ("trickle-down economics and budget-cutting
will create jobs")
while enjoying their market manipulations and daily bank deposits.
And sadly, the concentration of wealth
and looting of America increases crime in our streets
as out-of-work folks seek ways to feed their families. And
then the "Three P's" become our de facto "jobs
prosecutors, and prison
not really what America needs for a better quality of life
Don't be fooled: America is not broke.
There are no fewer teachers, nurses, carpenters,
bridge-builders, machinists and sales personnel in America today
willing and ready to work
- than there were before the economy began to teeter. And
no less need for their work, teaching kids, providing health care,
repairing roads and bridges, and otherwise providing the on-the-ground
wealth that creates a vibrant economy and standard of living for
everyone. We simply need to put them to work again
and with government services that are adequately paid-for by the
wealth of the country.
We do NOT need cuts in universal programs. We
do NOT need to sell off government parks and assets for a "quick
fix" to the deficit, or to lower taxes or privatize services
as if that's the only way to get to full employment. In a time of
economic misery, public services and safety-nets are more important
than ever. No one ever survives or gets rich totally by themselves.
our government should be creating jobs for all, through large-scale
investment and spending on the things we need as a nation and in
our communities. In the 1930's, FDR understood that, and his administration
launched the New
Deal, with Social Security, controls on banking, and massive
public works projects that improved the infrastructure of the nation
while putting tens of millions to work.
How do we get Congress and
political leaders to respond?
To repair what ails us, we need to reclaim
democracy for people! - lawmaking and public policies that
bring about the America we want and need, rather than concentrated
wealth for a very-few and poverty for most. Democracy as promised
Of, by and for the people,
not the moneyed interests.
That is why WPC is working for
public financing of campaigns
and to overturn wrong-headed court decisions like the Supreme Court's
ruling in Citizens
United v. FEC, which gives corporate entities the right
to spend unlimited sums to influence elections results.
As we approach the 2012 election season, undoubtedly
we will see huge sums spent to confuse and befuddle the voters
thereby retaining real power for the moneyed interests behind the
curtain. It may be a battle royal
with clearly differing views, policies and visions for America at
We must demand a genuine democracy where elections are never
for sale and where lawmaking is in the public interest and not
filtered or vetoed by well-heeled lobbyists making deals for
their corporate clients in the back room.
The mission of Washington Public Campaigns
is to promote genuine democracy by ensuring that election results
reflect the will of the voters, not the power of money. WPC continues
to work for public financing of campaigns at every level. It's an
essential means to achieve fair and "voter-owned" elections.
But it's only one of several reforms needed,
and WPC is adjusting our work to fit current opportunities and conditions.
Our activism in
With the support of a few "angel" donors and a committed
grassroots base WPC has successfully raised public awareness
and support for 'Clean Elections' programs similar to those actually
working in several states. Our success at this despite limited resources
shows that campaign finance reform is widely recognized as a key
ingredient to progress on many other issues. Advocates recognize
that progress on issues is stymied not simply by partisan fighting
and "beltway politicking," but actually by the political
influence of high-stakes moneyed interests. Furthermore, polls confirm
that increasingly the public is aware of this and would support
reforms, including public campaign financing if programs become
But we recognize the political appetite and practicality of public
campaign financing which requires an appropriation of public
funds is diminished in a time of economic downturn when public
budgets are facing severe cuts in essential services. We examined
the pros and cons of mounting a citizen initiative effort to create
a Clean Elections program and concluded it was ill-advised
at this time for these same reasons.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United
vs. FEC case has been a wake-up call nationwide, that fundamental
reforms even of a constitutional
nature are needed in this country to curtail corporate power
that influences every facet of our lives. It's a fight of epic proportions,
affecting public policies as wide-ranging as global warming, war
and peace, food and land use, job creation and health care policy
just to list a few.
Recent survey of
Given this evolving political environment, WPC surveyed our subscriber
membership in January, 2011, to assess support for an adjustment
to our mission. The result was overwhelming. We must lead or
join the fight to overturn the Citizens United ruling,
if necessary by means of a constitutional amendment to curtail corporate
power even as we continue to work for fair elections reforms
such as public campaign financing, robust disclosure of campaign
and lobbying spending, and increased information to voters. It's
And WPC has responded to the survey results.
We have continued to support reforms in the state legislature such
as tougher PDC disclosure requirements and bills to shield the citizen
initiative process from undue influence by moneyed interests. But
we also developed materials
and web-based action guides to support a growing movement
to reclaim authentic democracy for people.
January, WPC arranged town meeting public forums (in Spokane and
Olympia) on the anniversary of the Citizens United court
ruling, with panel discussions on what to do as citizen-activists,
to mobilize for change.
March we arranged a public forum in Seattle, "After Citizens
United: What Next?" co-sponsored by the UW Law
School and with an overflow crowd of 270. The panel of speakers
included Enrique Cerna of KCTS-9 Public Television, Steve Breaux
from WashPIRG, former state senator Claudia Kauffman, Lynne Dodson
of the State Labor Council, Rabbi Alan Cook, and national leaders
John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements, co-founders of Free Speech For People.org,
constitutional amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards.
May, we arranged a statewide tour, "Democracy
Hijacked: From Oil Spills to Move-To-Amend". The tour
included public forums and campus-based presentations in seven cities:
Olympia, Tacoma, Bellingham, Spokane, Wenatchee, Marysville and
Seattle. Each event featured presentations by nationally-acclaimed
marine biologist and oil-spill activist Dr. Riki Ott as well as
WPC leaders and local issue activists. Riki Ott is known for her
organizing work responding to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the BP
oil spill and as a co-founder of the national group, Move-To-Amend.org,
working for a broad changes to curtail corporate power.
These events, as intended, have helped to raise
public awareness about the need to address "corporate personhood"
wherein the Supreme Court has extended First Amendment rights
of free speech to spending by corporate entities in rulings such
as Citizens United.
Increasingly, voters are coming to recognize
how corporate greed and influence is choking our democracy and retarding
economic recovery. In effect, public policy is purchased by
Wall Street and wealthy donors, generally driven by a profit motive
and using high-priced lobbyists, campaign cash and spending on voter
propaganda and electioneering to influence election results and
votes in Congress and the state legislature. Democracy in America
and therefore public policy is being hijacked by money
and special-interest. We need a populist uprising to fight back.
Of course, WPC continues to work for Congressional
support for the Fair
Elections Now Act (FENA) proposal and the federal
Disclose Act, as well as similar measures at the state level,
financing for state supreme court races as a modest program.
But we know that progress on these federal bills depends on a wider,
deeper popular movement, and on further awakening by the public
so that public campaign financing becomes widely-supported as a
necessary tool for genuine democratic practice. And for now at the
state level, a shortage of funds in the state's budget is
the chief obstacle to enacting public campaign financing in the
current economic climate.
we know we must continue to "connect the dots"
to show that game-changing reforms in how our democracy works
is necessary to progress on job creation, affordable health care,
immigration, homelessness, environmental crises and similar issues.
Alliances for progressive
To that end, we continue to seek alliances with organizations that
address these specific issues. Our "Democracy Hijacked"
tour was partly intended to deepen our connections with environmental
activists through the involvement of Dr. Riki Ott.
We believe that informing and mobilizing citizens and building grassroots
leadership is essential over the long haul. It has led to victories
such as winning
approval of the Local Option law in the 2008 legislative
session as well as progress on campaign finance disclosure and similar
reforms in 2009 and 2010, and increased lawmaker attention to the
FENA bill and similar legislation proposed in Congress.
Furthermore, fundamental reforms in public
policy are impossible or not sustainable without genuine grassroots
awareness, organization and mobilization.
Our essential role
WPC is the only organization in Washington state working exclusively
for fair elections through public financing of campaigns and similar
measures, at local, state and national levels. We have become trusted
and respected for our knowledge of how these programs work, what
the critical design features are, and what message framing and strategies
are necessary to achieve legislative progress. Furthermore, our
efforts to build coalitions pursuing "connect-the-dots"
thinking and strategies is recognized and bearing fruit.
Change isn't easy, but it requires savvy strategies
and careful research, spotting opportunities and helping voters
to know where to apply citizen lobbying pressure to bring about
real reforms. We believe a "tipping point" is near
brought to the forefront by U.S. Court rulings, the upcoming
2012 election season, and continued economic misery and shenanigans
in the Congress at which time the opportunities to organize
around "democracy hijacked" and a new vision for America
will be increased. We are working to be poised and ready for that.
Washington Public Campaigns - News Email,
July 12, 2011
Fat Cats attack the middle class; let's organize
We're not supposed to say "class war";
it suggests bare-fisted politics.
But that's what's been happening and
the top 2% of corporate chieftains, bankers, and Wall Street hedge
fund speculators have been winning the policy fights in Congress.
They say America is broke, that workers are paid too much, that
schools, health care and government services are unaffordable, and
that we must lower taxes on the job-creating class to get America
back to work.
They're wrong. It is class warfare. What else
can we call it, when "leaders" in Congress refuse to raise
taxes on the top 2% (to levels in effect for three decades, until
the 1970's) and instead want serious cuts in Social Security,
Medicare and other needed government services at a time of economic
misery for tens of millions of hard-working Americans.
Let's remember: WE did not cause this economic
recession. That was brought by the high-stakes gamblers on Wall
Street, including too-big-to-fail banks and global-seeking corporate
CEOs who seem no longer to care about mom-n-pop businesses and workers
on Main Streets across the nation.
Another fact to remember and ponder: There
are no fewer teachers, nurses, carpenters, bridge-builders, machinists
and sales personnel in America today willing and ready to
work than there were in early 2008 when the economy began
teetering. And no less need for their work, teaching kids,
providing health care, repairing roads and bridges, and otherwise
providing the on-the-ground wealth that makes a vibrant economy
and standard of living for everyone. We simply need to put them
to work again and with government services that are adequately
paid-for by the wealth of the country.
We DO NOT need cuts in universal programs.
We DO NOT need to sell off government parks and assets for a "quick
fix" to the deficit, or to lower taxes or privatize services
as if that's the only way to get to full employment. Those are myths
propagated by Wall Street CEOs (and their highly-paid lobbyists
and members of Congress) who profit greatly by tax rates that today
are one-half what they were in the 1960's when the economy was humming
We DO need to build a nationwide movement that
truly represents the Middle Class and working people of America
who are desperate to be gainfully employed once-again.
This is why you should
attend a Rebuild the American Dream
house meeting in your neighborhood this weekend.
Follow this link Rebuild
the Dream and choose a house meeting to attend, by
clicking on one near you or at your convenience. If you don't find
a meeting that has space or is convenient, consider inviting some
neighbors or friends, and create your own. Simply sign up as a house
meeting host online. There are easy-to-follow guidelines for hosting
Whatever you do, please don't be silent.
The future of a fair economy is at stake these days. And absent
a national popular movement, the "leaders" in the other
Washington are caving in to wealthy and profit-seeking interests
at the expense of an American Dream that should be available to
What to do this
At house meetings this weekend, let's push for serious game-changing
reforms that we all know are overdue and needed:
of campaigns at every level.
An end to court rulings and laws that protect
"corporate personhood" and allow unlimited spending
to skew election results and lawmaking in Congress.
Open disclosure of who is trying to influence
voters with a steady stream of myth-laced propaganda.
Return of the media to public and popular
(instead of corporate profit-seeking) control.
WPC feels these gatherings and this national
effort organized and promoted by MoveOn.Org and partners
are an important companion to our advocacy work for public
financing of campaigns and to reset the stage in national debate
on policy issues dealing with budget and tax fairness, protecting
Social Security, "guns vs. butter" in war spending, and
how to get America back to work.
We know that to achieve the promise of American
democracy government "of, by and for the people"
we need to support game-changing reforms while we also respond
to immediate crises. America needs public campaign financing and
we need a 180-degree change in Supreme Court decisions rulings
that so far have protected moneyed interests in electioneering spending
instead of protecting real voter democracy.
But these game-changing reforms are unlikely
to come about without widespread active popular support (beyond
the "choir"). Quite simply, we have to "connect the
dots" with daily kitchen-table concerns concerns over
jobs, health care costs, environmental safety and sustainability,
access to and affordability of education - and the terrible costs
and aftermath of ongoing war. We can do this by reaching out to
our neighbors in thoughtful conversation about how to rebuild an
American dream and to truly achieve the promise of equal
opportunity, justice and economic fairness for all.
A national coalition of groups including
MoveOn.Org, U.S.Action, SEIU, ChangeToWin and other groups
recently launched the Rebuild
the Dream effort, with house meetings beginning July 16th
in every Congressional district nationwide, to be followed by citizen
action and lobbying in favor of policies to fix the economy and
protect the 98-percent of Americans who struggle daily to make ends
To find and sign up for a house meeting in
your area and to sign up to attend visit the Rebuild
the Dream website here: http://rebuildthedream.com
In addition, please support WPC's
advocacy work for public campaign financing, and to overturn
Supreme Court rulings (such as Citizens United) through
an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the power of voters
in American democracy against the undue influence of Big Money.
Craig Salins, Executive Director
Washington Public Campaigns
Please consider attending a house party gathering
in your area, Saturday or Sunday, July 16th and 17th an initial
step toward the Rebuild the Dream national organizing effort.
An archived PDF copy of this email is available
to forward to friends or post on Facebook.
WPC feels these gatherings and this national
effort organized and promoted by MoveOn.Org and partners
- are an important companion to our advocacy work for public financing
of campaigns and to reset the stage in national debate on policy
issues dealing with budget and tax fairness, protecting Social Security,
"guns vs. butter" in war spending, and how to get America
back to work.
We know that to achieve the promise of American
democracy government "of, by and for the people"
we need to support game-changing reforms while we also respond
to immediate crises. To end "pay-to-play lawmaking" and
a Congress that's beholden to Wall Street cash, America needs public
financing of campaigns. We also need a 180-degree change in Supreme
Court decisions rulings that so far have protected moneyed
interests in electioneering spending instead of protecting real
But these game-changing reforms are unlikely
to come about without widespread active popular support (beyond
the "choir"). Quite simply, we have to "connect the
dots" with daily kitchen-table concerns concerns over
jobs, health care costs, environmental safety and sustainability,
access to and affordability of education and the terrible
costs and aftermath of ongoing war.
We can do this by reaching out to our neighbors
in thoughtful conversation about how to rebuild an American dream
and to truly achieve the promise of equal opportunity, justice
and economic fairness for all. We have an opportunity to do that
the weekend of July 16th.
A national coalition of groups - including MoveOn.Org,
U.S.Action, SEIU, ChangeToWin and other groups - recently launched
the Rebuild the Dream effort, with house meetings beginning
July 16th in every Congressional district nationwide, to be followed
by citizen action and lobbying in favor of policies to fix the economy
and protect the 98 percent of Americans who struggle daily to make
To find a house meeting in your area
and to sign up to attend visit the Rebuild the Dream website
~ Craig Salins, Executive Director, Washington
Let's face it: the U.S. Supreme Court has descended
into politics. They have ruled that "money is speech"
(Buckley v. Valeo, 1976) that "unlimited speech
is protected as a First Amendment right" of personhood, even
corporate spending-as-speech (Citizens United v. F.E.C.,
2010). And just last week, the Roberts Court ruled in a 5-4 decision
to toss out the "rescue funds" feature of Clean Elections
programs. The Court ruled that such funding to level the financial
playing field is unconstitutional because it has a "chilling
effect" on private donors and therefore violates the First
Amendment guarantee of free speech! In essence, the Court says the
government has no compelling interest to make sure elections are
decided by voters rather than by Money.
We have to disagree.
Former respected jurist Louis Brandeis
put it succinctly: We can have great concentration of wealth in
a few hands or democracy. Not both. We must choose.
We know we need a popular uprising to overrule
a Supreme Court that seems intent on protecting moneyed interests
at the expense of Main Street voters. For that reason, WPC is collaborating
with several national groups to promote new language into the Constitution
itself, clarifying that corporate spending on political persuasion
should not be a form of First Amendment-protected free speech. Quite
simply, we won't have "one-person, one-vote" so long as
dollars can buy election results!
To advance that work, to overturn
Supreme Court rulings (such as Citizens United),
WPC is collaborating with a coalition of like-minded organizations
(Free Speech For People.org, Move-To-Amend.org, the Backbone Campaign,
WashPIRG, and others), promoting a state
legislative resolution that calls on Congress and the people
to adopt a constitutional amendment. The language filed in March
may be edited for the 2012 session but we are organizing
to get the gist of this resolution enacted!
Such an objective provides a specific focus
with opportunity for citizens to speak up and lobby their
elected officials in every state legislative district. We
need to make our voices and opinions heard on this vital issue,
in places where it will make a difference. That is our aim, and
our strategy. Please join this effort!
~ Craig Salins, Executive Director, Washington
This growing nationwide movement concerns what we can do to overturn
the Citizens United (Supreme Court) ruling and to recapture
democracy and the citizen voice in a time when money and
corporate influence increasingly is dominating our elections and
If we care about Fair Elections and about making progress
on other issues of concern to Main Street households we must
become involved in the struggle against growing concentration of
wealth in America, and it's undue influence over elections, lawmaking
and nearly every aspect of our lives.
And the trends in U.S. Supreme Court thinking and decisions are
alarming indeed. We must not be silent.
Message from Washington State Senator Eric
It has been an honor to serve you in the State Senate. With
constant and loving help, you inspired me to work harder.
I wish good luck to
my challenger, Andy Hill, in his new role.
So many of you have
asked what comes next. I will continue to fight for the reforms
we care so much about protecting and improving public schools,
the environment and democracy itself.
We need to change
how we tackle tough times. Historically, instead of cutting
tax breaks to multinational corporations, we freeze salaries, cut
funding to schools, and dismantle the safety net for kids, the disabled,
and the elderly who've fallen on hard times. Compounding the problem,
in good times and bad, most legislators rush to vote for special
interest tax breaks while lamenting "yet more cuts to education."
We need to make
financially sound and just choices. As a business man and a
money manager, to me, money is money. Whether you call it a "tax",
an "invoice", or a "salary freeze" it effects
the bottom line. When state governments balance their budgets in
the historical way, they "tax" workers and kids and the
poor, while giving corporations a pass. A just budget asks everyone
to make sacrifices.
To change this pattern,
we must make significant change to election financing and media
consolidation. What Einstein observed over 60 years ago is getting
capital tends to become concentrated in few hands. The result .
is an oligarchy . which cannot be effectively checked even by a
democratically organized political society. This is true since the
members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties,
largely financed . by private capitalists who, for all practical
purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.
is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently
protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population.
Moreover, . private capitalists inevitably control, directly or
indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education).
It is thus extremely difficult . for the individual citizen to come
to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political
Albert Einstein, May 1949 source
In a year when corporations spent tens
of millions of dollars attacking
government and attacking my colleagues and me personally, it is
little wonder they bought so much success at the ballot box. The
return on their investments will reward them for years to come.
The soda industry alone spent over $15 million, but will make the
money they spent back in a matter of weeks. Now that is a great
return on investment for them. Our schools, on the other hand, will
Albert Einstein was right. But we are not
helpless. We can reform campaigns fairly, constitutionally,
and cost free. All we need to do is to require corporations to follow
the same rules as churches and non-profits. If a corporation has
a tax preference, it would either have to give up the tax preference,
or refrain from campaigning.
Thank you for your help, your support and your
Sincerely, Eric Oemig
State Senator, WA-45th District
Supreme Court takes
lawsuit against Arizona Clean Elections
U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next spring on the constitutionality
of "rescue" matching funds a key component of Arizona's
Clean Elections program that provides additional funds to Clean
Elections candidates when they are outspent by privately-financed
opponents or face opposition by independent ads . The court's decision
to hear the case was announced Monday, Nov. 29th.
Additional info links on the Supreme Court case, McComish
This lawsuit (McComish v. Bennett) began two years ago, when some
Republican candidates assisted by attorney Bill Maurer of
the libertarian-leaning law firm Institute for Justice argued
that their fundraising (and therefore their speech) was "chilled"
because funds they raised would simply provide more matching dollars
to publicly-financed candidates.
In January 2009, a U.S. district judge in Phoenix
found the matching funds provision unconstitutional. In May, 2010,
the Ninth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the law, issuing
a stay to overturn the Arizona District Court. But then Clean Elections
opponents asked the Supreme Court to intervene and block distribution
of Clean Elections Act matching funds and the Court did so
(in June), pending a decision whether to hear the case.
Nearly no one is surprised the Supreme Court has chosen to hear
this case. Opinions and rulings from various districts and federal
circuit courts have been divided on whether public financing of
campaigns and in particular, the matching "rescue"
funds feature that is part of most state Clean Elections programs
is constitutional under First Amendment "free speech"
We certainly know of the Supreme Court's leanings,
evidenced by the Citizens United ruling last January, and by the
Court's tossing out the "Millionaire's Amendment" provision
(Davis v. FEC) of the McCain-Feingold law, last year. Will the Court
expand the lawsuit to rule against public financing of campaigns
in general? or will they confine a ruling to only the question
of triggered matching funds? We don't know.
But it should be clearer than ever that democracy
in America is imperiled by growing concentration of wealth
at the top and by the power of money to influence election outcomes
and lawmaking itself. Main Street households are often busy trying
to survive in a depressed economy. Voters can easily be swayed by
clever issue ads, spin and half-truths especially on complex
public policy issues with no easy answers.
It's time for the Supreme Court to side with
people (that is, flesh-and-blood natural persons) instead of money
and wealth. And it's time to clarify (by a constitutional
amendment if necessary) that "free speech" is intended
as a right of the people, not as a means for money or corporate
interests to hijack self-government.
Clearly it's time for fundamental reform in
how campaigns are financed including new laws requiring disclosure
and transparency in ALL campaign spending, including so-called "independent"
expenditures, and new laws and programs of balanced information
"Freedom of Speech" while important has
become a fig-leaf to cover mucking around in our democracy by corporate-oriented
The fundamental question is: Who should control
election outcomes? Voters? or Money?
~ Craig Salins, Executive Director, Washington Public Campaigns
you 'In the Know' - receiving WPC updates? If you're not receiving
Email updates from us, you're behind the times! JOIN
US The only way to bring about the change we seek is citizen
lobbying and when we speak together, we're more powerful!
So - join the WPC citizens lobby! Make sure
we have your correct email address! Set your spam filter to accept
mail from [email protected]. It's how we communicate
when we need to raise our voices collectively to push a legislative
measure drowning out the special interest
lobbyists with grassroots citizen power!
There are now 133 co-sponsors in the House including Washington
State Reps. Adam Smith and Jim McDermott. Last week, Senator Maria
Cantwell signed on to co-sponsor S.752 in the Senate.
Is the U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Citizens
United v. FEC) not enough evidence to convince our lawmakers,
that the appearance of a Congress "for sale" is a growing
threat? Certainly they know that the American people are demanding
some response from lawmakers and the majority in command.
There are rising voices that want a Constitutional amendment, declaring
that "corporations are not natural persons under the law"
and therefore do NOT enjoy First Amendment freedom to muck
around in our democracy, let alone buy it outright.
But we may be some years away from that and even then, will
compaigns be for sale to the highest bidder?
The ONLY solution on
the campaign side, is public financing of campaigns.
That is exactly what the FENA bill is all about.
Some lawmakers might have
concerns about how the bill is to be financed. The answer is: it's
proposed to be financed through a reasonable tax on large government
contracts. In other words, the money that Halliburton and others
now spend on lobbying and campaigns (in their corporate interest),
might be diverted instead into a fund that benefits the public voice.
We simply must cut the cash that empowers corporate lobbyists, who
under the status quo, with a wink and a nod, promise re-election
cash to those lawmakers who do the bidding of Wall Street and special
interests. We hope our federal representatives are not among them,
but we need written proof as a co-sponsors, beyond verbal comments
to groups now and then that public financing is an idea worth exploring.
Given the recent Supreme Court ruling, it's now: "What side
are you on?"
We need to know our federal
representatives are on the people's side in this fight.
Please push your representatives to co-sponsor the FENA bill
and very soon!
We know that even if it passes, it won't be
in time to affect record-setting spending in this year's races
because 2012 is when a new program would kick in.
But we have to start somewhere.
So you might ask: Yikes, such an small step
.. when the entire U.S. Congress seems for sale! Is this worth the
Of course, we must continue to push our federal
reps to co-sponsor and champion the Fair
Elections Now Act providing public financing of Congressional
Anyone who doubts that, need only consider
how health care reform has been watered down by Wall
Street lobbyists (PDF) and campaign cash. And there's
probably more scandal to come on banking, global warming,
and other issues. Important bills in Congress are likely to meet
the same fate, until we buy back our democracy with Clean/Fair
But keep in mind: We won't achieve real campaign
finance reform without a robust citizens movement, mobilized and
demanding change. That's what WPC is about.
The proposed judicial bill in this year's legislative
session is a building block in that movement and it's an
essential program to keep our courts impartial and fair justice
not for sale.
We may not get it all the way to the finish
line (the governor's desk) this year but we're going to try.
But let's understand: This effort
to raise public awareness and push the legislature on a supreme
court bill is related to achieving similar reform, eventually,
in the U.S. Congress. The issue is the same at every level:
the corrupting influence of special-interest cash.
In short, a judicial bill is not only important
to keeping the courts impartial, it's also a surrogate for tackling
the generic problem.
It provides an opportunity to talk with friends,
neighbors and co-workers about how our democracy is supposed
to work, and what we must do, to reduce the influence of special-interest
campaign cash in lawmaking, budgets and every aspect of public policy.
The issue is the same, whether applied to the
state supreme court, or the Congress of the United States.
Courts do matter!
How many of your friends recognize the power
and influence of the court, and therefore the importance of a court
that remains impartial?
Public financing for supreme court races DOES
matter! The supreme court makes decisions that affect every aspect
of our lives tax policy, growth management and environmental
regulation, safety on the job and even what laws and initiatives
Anyone who thinks that doesn't matter should
think again! The supreme court is as influential as the statehouse,
the governor, and the legislature - and it should be impartial,
not bought by any special interest.
As our legislators reconvene, let's tell
We're fed up with money seeking to "buy"
seats on the court.
Give us a program so the supreme court can
did it just weeks ago. And years earlier, North
Carolina and New Mexico.
If we want real
health care reform in America, we must change campaign finance laws
and enact public funding of campaigns for Congress,
such as the Fair Elections Now Act (S.752, HR. 1862).
Why? Because Congress is largely for sale, beholden
to mountains of cash. Lawmaking is auctioned off to special interests
that spend millions in lobbying, backed by the promise of campaign
contributions for re-election.
What fate awaits the "public good"
and Main Street households when Wall Street spends $1.4 million
per day to lobby behind the scenes for changes in law to benefit
corporate profits regardless of progress toward affordable
health care for all?
A clue to who's winning is the fact that stock
value for the largest private insurance companies hit a 52-week
high this past week, once it was announced that a health care public
option was off the table.
Robert F. Kennedy once said it best: Corporations
should NOT be running our government because they don't want democracy,
they want free markets, they want profits ... and oftentimes the
easiest path is to use the campaign finance system to get their
hooks into a public official, to dismantle the marketplace for monopoly
control and a competitive edge and to privatize the commons
to steal our air, our water, or our public treasury, and liquidate
it for private profits.
Indeed, it's time to launch a fight against
private special interest and to reclaim our democracy. Public
funding for campaigns, while not by itself a silver bullet, is an
essential prerequisite. Without that, we won't see real progress
on any of the items of paramount concern to most Americans
including jobs and a bailout for Main Street, re-regulation of Wall
Street (such as re-enactment of Glass-Steagall), and serious steps
to fight global warming and leave a healthy environment to our children.
- Craig Salins, Washington Public Campaigns
Health care profits and lobbying the Congress
Six top health care insurers on Wall Street
reported earnings of over $3 billion for the third quarter of 2009.
At that rate, these six companies alone will earn $12 billion in
profit in 2009 a year when many Americans are having to suffer
layoffs and belt-tightening.
For details, click
here. Or at the end of this article, click on links to details
for each company.
Meanwhile, their lobbying the Congress continues
at a furious pace.
So far in 2009, the health industry sector has
spent more than $396 million on lobbying costs. In addition, the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $65 million in lobbying. Details
here on our
website as a PDF handout.
But of course. Consider the profits at stake
and the return-on-investment for their lobbying efforts.
By the way, these figures do NOT include the ads we're seeing on
TV each hour, urging a particular point of view regarding health
Is democracy for sale? Whose voice is loudest?
as Congress shapes health care reform?
This is why campaign finance
reform is essential.
Elections Now Act (public financing for campaigns for Congress)
might not by itself be a silver bullet. But until we stop the choke
hold by Big Money in Congress, we cannot achieve real progress on
the many other issues that concern most Americans, including budget
priorities, a sustainable environment, appropriate regulation of
Wall Street, and much more.
The ads on TV try to sway your opinion on health
care reform (or, on what Rx drugs to "ask your doctor"
But our message to you is different. Washington
Public Campaigns is urging you to join our movement for REAL reform
in campaign finance laws and practices. Money is polluting our democracy,
skewing every decision that is made, to the benefit of lobbyists
and the profiteering companies they represent. You know it - and
so do most Americans. Read
We have to change it and we can. But
not without a fight.
Please raise your voice. Contact
your member of Congress. Tell them: Listen to the voters, not the special interests. And tell them: Support the Fair Elections Now Act,
by co-sponsoring the proposals in Congress.
Or, send a contribution to:
Washington Public Campaigns, PO Box 70452, Seattle WA 98127-0452
Thank you! Craig Salins
Washington Public Campaigns
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~
Selected health insurance corporations are as follows:
Click on each for links to their 3rd quarter 2009 earnings details.
Group - $1.03 billion
(3rd quarter 2008 was $920 million) WellPoint
- $730.2 million (3rd quarter 2008 was $820.7 million) AFLAC
- $363 million (3rd quarter 2008 was $100 million) CIGNA
- $329 million (3rd quarter 2008 was $171 million) Aetna
- $326.2 million (3rd quarter 2008 was $277.3 million) Humana
- $301.5 million (3rd quarter 2008 was $183 million)
Scratch any issue
before Congress, and we find special-interest money influencing
Consider the recent Wall Street bailouts. Or the deregulation
of the financial services industry, bought with $5 billion
in lobbying and campaign contributions during 1998-2008, that led
to our current economic misery. Or the current debate over health
care reform, where special-interests are spending $1.4 million per
day in lobbying
costs, to influence the outcome.
In many ways, our
entire system of lawmaking is increasingly for sale. It's like an
auction: The bidder with the deepest pocket wins the prize.
the cost of this corruption is passed along to all of us - in the
form of budgets and laws that favor profiteering and special interests
rather than meeting the needs of most Americans.
This is why we
need fundamental reform of our campaign finance laws - in the form
of public financing of campaigns, at every level.
The good news is,
this change is possible. Public financing of campaigns is working
in several states and cities (E.g. Maine, Arizona, Connecticut,
North Carolina, and even Portland, Oregon).
It frees candidates
and lawmakers from the task of dialing for dollars. It restores
voter confidence that lawmakers are working for constituent voters
and the common good, rather than for special-interests who eagerly
bankroll the campaigns in exchange for political access and favors.
In some states
it's called "Clean Elections", elsewhere it's "Voter-Owned
But the principle is the same: campaigns are financed publicly,
so that the financial playing field is level, and elections are
decided by honest debate over issues, not by whoever can best romance
the wealthiest campaign backers.
are financed publicly, there will still be lobbyists - but they
won't be writing big checks at campaign fund raisers. Instead, they'll
have to stand in line behind the voters.
These reforms won't
be handed to us on a silver platter. We have to fight for them,
action. National polls show there is strong
support, but citizens have to rise up and say: "We
are tired of deal-making, political favors, and pay-to-play politics.
We believe in government that is truly "of the people, by the
people, and for the people" - and we want budget priorities
and laws that represent the people rather than the profiteers.
The only way to
bring that about, to buy back our democracy, is to establish public
financing of campaigns, Voter-Owned Elections.
And so today, we
again call on Congress to enact the Fair
Elections Now Act (HR 1826, and S 752). And we urge our
U.S. Senators and members of Congress to co-sponsor these bills.
~ Craig Salins, Executive Director, WPC
The news makes one sick and perhaps,
determined to fight for reform.
For months, Congress has debated health care
reforms that shovel $ billions to private insurance, who add no
real value to health care coverage. Indeed, these Wall Street middlemen
profit hugely on the dollars streaming through their corporate bank
accounts, denying claims and screening out sick folk, while spending
hugely on propaganda campaigns and lobbyists to keep Congress from
pulling the plug on their game.
But it's not just at the Wall Street level that
Americans are being taken to the cleaners. Our health care system
is drunk with profit at every level. Consider the Valley Medical
CEO who recently was awarded $1.73 million retirement pay - to keep
him from retiring! Read
Or physicians in McAllen, Texas, who launched
their own investor-owned hospital (Doctors Hospital at Renaissance),
purportedly to offer higher quality care. Why didn't they simply
invest in an upgrade to the public hospitals, instead? Atul Gawande,
Cost Conundrum, New Yorker, June 2009.
Now and then, we put a deserving individual
in prison. Norman Hsu, Democratic fundraiser, was recently sentenced
to 24 years for fraud and violating campaign laws. Earlier,
it was Jack Abramoff. Deserving scapegoats, to divert our attention
from the systemic problem?
Dear friends and supporters,
We have just had two GREAT jam-packed days advancing the Fair
Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826, S.752) in Congress, built around
the July 30th bill hearing in the Committee on House Administration.
Here's a quick summary, in chronological order.
VISITS DC: Last Wednesday, noted actor Sam Waterston
came to town to draw attention to Fair Elections prior to the hearing.
He appeared on a live local newscast, then went to Capitol Hill
where he had brief sit downs with House Administration Chair Robert
Brady, GOP lead sponsor Rep. Walter Jones, and Rep. Chellie Pingree,
followed by individual standup conversations with another 23 lawmakers
just off the House chamber.
YouTube video, Waterston on ABC News Rep.
Pingree, I should add, made repeated trips to the House floor to
bring more members back to meet with Waterston. Following his lobbying
at the Capitol, Waterston was interviewed by pundits E.J. Dionne
and Mark Shields, as well as a reporter from the National Journal.
Left, a front page article from yesterday's
Roll Call that covered Waterston's Hill visit. Read
Roll Call article (PDF)
LEADERS AD RUNS IN ROLL CALL: Thursday's Roll Call also featured
a full page ad in which 34 business leaders from around the country
called for the passage of Fair Elections.
The signers of the ad included venture capitalist
Alan Patricof, former Stride Rite CEO Arnold Hiatt, Crate &
Barrel founder Gordon Segal, former Delta Airlines CEO Gerald Grinstein,
Universal Remote Control Board Chair Chang Park, former Playboy
CEO Christie Hefner, and Hasbro executive Alan Hassenfeld, among
The ad's message, aimed at Capitol Hill lawmakers,
their staff, and lobbyists, is that it's time to end the "mutually
wasteful, degrading" campaign money chase - the theme that
our bill leaders on the Hill believe is most effective with their
colleagues. A giant (5'x3') blow-up of the ad was featured at the
bill hearing. View
the full ad (PDF)
HEALTHCARE MONEY IN POLITICS in New York Times and
Washington Post: As part of our partnership with Healthcare
for America Now, the front page of last Wednesday's New
York Times ran a story on a now-famous hospital's attempts to use
campaign contributions to make themselves more of a player in the
healthcare policy debate. Our research turned up a very large bundled
contribution to the DSCC, which the Times reporters then
fleshed out into a full story.
in the week, we published a report examining the healthcare industry
contributions to lawmakers sitting on the five committees that are
central to the crafting of healthcare reform. It was covered on
the Washington Post's online site, the Huffington
Post and by other outlets as well. Friday's WaPo story on
Blue Dogs' healthcare industry contributions was also informed by
our data and analysis.
strong legislative proponents of the Fair Elections Now Act spoke
first. HouseDemocratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-CT), Rep Chellie
Pingree (D-ME, pictured right), and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) all
advocated forcefully for the policy, each noted the success of their
home state public financing programs.
They were followed by a second panel the included
Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree (Chellie Pingree's daughter,
who has used public financing for her races); Jeff Garfield, the
head of Connecticut's State Elections Enforcement Commission, which
oversees the state's public financing system, and Arn Pearson, national
Common Cause's Vice-President for Programs.
The three noted the successes of the state programs
in their testimony, with Arn eloquently summarizing why such a move
is the right one for Congress at this time. Representatives of the
Center for Competitive Politics and Cato Institute (Brad Smith and
John Samples) testified against the bill. Roll Call's coverage is
pasted in below.
WORTH NOTING: The reform community's collaborative organizing
has led to 20 new co-sponsors coming on board the Fair Elections
bill in recent weeks. Last night, we learned two New York City Congressmen,
Rep. Jose Serrano and Rep. Charlie Rangel were joining the list
of supporters. Rangel, Chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee
is an especially important pick-up. They will bring our total number
of co-sponsors to 77.
Thanks for your work,
Jeannette Galanis, National Field Director, Public Campaign ·publicampaign.org
There is a spirited debate in Congress over
what should be the design of any public plan option, as part of
health care reform legislation this year. This is emerging as THE
central issue in the proposed legislation.
If you are following this issue and this debate,
you probably know the details and the arguments, pro and con, for
the various design proposals.
Whatever emerges in
final legislation regarding a public plan will be precedent-setting,
and perhaps on the books for yearsprobably with a growing
nationwide enrollment, and eventually even its own built-in lobby
(as happens with most major programs, such as Social Security).
For that reason, it is extremely important
and urgent that citizen-voters express an opinion about the
design of a public planand do so now, before the ink is dry.
Here are the choices:
If you want a public plan to work like Medicare
(but with improved benefits and reimbursements to health care
providers)essentially a single-payer system, where the public
sector collects the premium fees and pays health care providers
directlyyou will need to say so ("Public
Plan like single-payer Medicare, please!"). Forcefully...
If instead, you prefer a "public plan"
that uses private insuranceessentially guaranteeing that
private insurance will gain profit and stability from the huge
additional revenues that are contemplatedthen you should
voice that position to your lawmakers ("Public
plan through private insurance, please!").
Whatever you doplease
don't be silent!
Here is the core issue in the national
debate: Should health care coverage be delivered as a "public
good" through government agencies?like Social Security,
Medicare, our nation's highways, schools and public safety services.
Or instead, should health care coverage be treated
as a "commodity" in the marketplace, priced and delivered
according to potential corporate profits or losseslike Wall
Street investments, private housing, and other consumer products.
Be assured: Washington Public Campaigns
will continue to organize and fight for public financing of election
campaignssuch as the Fair Elections Now Act in Congress
here). That is our core mission, and we have not strayed
from that educational and advocacy work.
Meanwhile, the 2009 struggle over the shape
of health care reform in the U.S. is a surrogate for a deeper
issuewhether the public sector and the government of the
United States belongs to the peopleor to the special interests
that can "buy" legislation to their liking, regardless
of the cost to taxpayers.
That is why I'm writing to you about this important
debate in the Congressbeing played out in health care reform
legislation. It's a poster-child example of special-interest influence
in Congress...and why we need public financing of campaigns!
The truth is, even as we fight for the Fair
Elections Now Acturging our federal lawmakers to sign
on as co-sponsors and champions of that important and fundamental
reformwe also know that public financing of Congressional
campaigns will not be approved in time to influence this year's
historic opportunity to shape the nation's health care future. Instead,
we have to speak up, directly and forcefullyand we
have to do it now.
Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are
each on key Senate committees writing the legislation. In
the House, Reps. McDermott, Reichert, Inslee, and McMorris-Rodgers
are on key committeesbut all House members are involved in
Please contact these
federal lawmakers this weekby phone and emailwith your
opinion. And keep contacting them throughout the summeras
long as health care legislation is still in play, in wet ink.
Want Health Care Reform?
Public Financing of Campaigns is Essential!
If we want real health care reform in
this country, we must also support public financing of campaigns.
These are two advocacy campaigns that need a political marriage.
Real progress on many issues - including health
care reform - depends on Fair Elections (public campaign financing)
- so that decisions by Congress are made in the public
interest, not skewed by lobbyists and campaign cash from insurance
and pharmaceutical corporations.
Right now, money rules the debate. So long as
decisions in Congress are shaped by the quid-pro-quo of lavish campaign
contributions and spending on lobbying, we are unlikely to achieve
affordable single-payer health care for all with comprehensive benefits.
Policy debates in Congress are driven by campaign cash and corporate
lobbying - rather than by logic or what's best for all Americans.
Let's keep in mind: A winning campaign for the
U.S. Senate now costs nearly $10 million. That means raising over
$27,000 every day of the year! Who has that kind of money?
The health insurance industry does. They get
it from our premiums (even if paid by employers or by union benefit
plans), and from our taxes funneled through federal programs that
provide huge revenue streams to for-profit health insurers.
Last year, over $6.8 billion in profits was reported by just the
top three companies alone - UnitedHealth Group ($2.9 billion), Wellpoint
($2.5 billion), and Aetna ($1.4 billion).
Do we think they won't use any means to keep
the gravy train flowing?
The business of these companies depends greatly
on Congressional action - and they've become expert at extracting
favors from Congress.
Most sitting lawmakers want to keep their seats.
They need campaign cash to get re-elected - even while they also
need constituent votes. So naturally, they play the game - dialing
for dollars where the big dollars are.
Corporate America is willing to oblige. In 2008,
more than $550 million was spent on campaign cash and lobbying by
health industry corporate players - $200 million by insurers alone.
It's mutual back-scratching. Money rolls in;
political favors roll out. In effect, lawmaking is for sale to the
high bidders - and all Americans pay the price, in higher prices
for prescription drugs, skewed public policy, and more.
This is why we need to change
We need public funding of Senate and Congressional
campaigns. REAL health care reform - getting it, and keeping it
- depends on changing the source of campaign cash, getting rid of
"pay-to-play" politics, so that lawmakers listen to voters,
not big donors. Of course, we'll need a robust grassroots movement
for this - just as we need for real health care reform.
Fortunately, more and more Americans are learning
how public financing of campaigns has changed politics forever in
states that offer "Clean Elections" like Maine, Arizona,
and recently New Jersey, Connecticut and others.
This year offers a "teachable moment"
in many ways. With the bailouts, the economic meltdown brought by
a deregulated Wall Street, and now the historic fight over health
care reform, it's a lesson in how our campaign finance laws must
change to bring about the promise of a people's democracy that is
not yet fully realized.
If we're disappointed this year in progress
toward affordable health care (even single payer), let's not be
discouraged. Instead, let's redouble our efforts to get our democracy
back - through a game-changer like public financing of campaigns.
Craig Salins is Executive Director of Washington Public Campaigns.
Will health care reform be stolen by Wall
The outcome depends on citizen action.
Grassroots action (citizen lobbying) is needed
immediately and steadily on the health care issue.
Health care reform is moving rapidly
through Congress. The Senate Finance Committee (chaired by Senator
Max Baucus, MT) intends to release a proposed bill this week - by
May 22nd. House committees are not far behind.
Guess what. They are caving in to political
pressure from Wall Street and the insurance industry.
Are we surprised? More than $550 million was
spent on campaign
cash and lobbying in 2008, by health industry corporate
players - $200 million by insurance alone. What are they buying?
- self-interest, that's what. We have to respond.
Which headline will
we read this fall?
"WALL STREET REAPS BONANZA in
revenues and profits from health care reform. Lobbying and campaign
cash pays off, terrific return on buying Congress."
STREET UPRISING brings REAL health care reform to America. Lobbyists
disappointed - but average Americans get the health care they
The time to shape the headline and the outcome
national debate over health care reform has begun in earnest, in
Please read: Health
Care Reform - Necessary Features (available as a PDF download).
This provides an important perspective on the emerging debate over
health care reform in Congress. Comments welcome.
Whatever law emerges from
Congress in the next few months will shape
health care in America for years to come. It is an important public
What role should the insurance industry play,
in fashioning law and
regulations (governing itself), to achieve affordable health care
coverage for everyone in America?
In 2008, health industry players spent $97 million
on direct campaign contributions and $464 million on lobbying -
to influence Congress. By itself, the insurance industry spent almost
$200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions! Read
all about it
We need the Fair
Elections Now Act, because we believe Congress should be
accountable to the people - not to lobbyists or Wall Street corporate
interests. Business enterprise drives our economy, and that's great.
But today's huge corporations should not be running our government
and deciding public policy - because they are concerned about profit
and the bottom line, whereas Americans are concerned about a sustainable
quality of life.
The emerging health care debate is intimately
connected to our goal of public campaign financing. How?
Real health care reform depends on Fair Elections
(public campaign financing) - so that decisions by Congress are
made in the public interest, not skewed by lobbyists
and campaign cash from insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.
Conversely, the Fair Elections Now Act needs
the support of citizen organizations - like health care reform groups
- who realize we won't make real progress on issues without curtailing
the political influence of lobbyists and special-interest campaign
donors in Congress. When advocacy groups run into the wall of corporate
lobbyists and special-interest campaign spending, it's a wakeup
call that we need campaign finance reform in America! We should
be there, with information about the Fair Elections Now Act.
These two issue campaigns need each other.
Neither will make significant progress without the other. As we
talk with friends and neighbors who care about either issue, let's
connect the dots.
The FENA bill was filed March 25th, companion
bills in both the Senate and the House.
The bills are immediately assigned to committees,
for deliberation, hearings, mark-up and action. In Congress, there
is no deadline for action on bills (unlike our legislature in
Olympia, where there are cutoff dates). Whenever there is sufficient
support - and at the direction of Congressional leaders - bills
may be brought to the floor for a vote.
Advocates all over the country are now urging
senators and members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsors of
the bill - partly to indicate to Congressional leaders that there
is widespread support.
In Washington state, WashClean suppporters
in each Congressional District should contact
your member of Congress - and ALL of us should be contacting
Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell - asking them to co-sponsor
l We expect there may be hearings on the
bill this summer, and we need to encourage that, to bring attention
to the need for campaign finance reform.
We have a unique opportunity to gain public
attention and support for the Fair Elections proposal. Wall Street
banking bailouts and influence-peddling scandals in Congress have
convinced the public that we need significant change.
A national poll (November 2008) revealed that
by a 3-to-1 margin (67% to 20%), Americans support public financing
for Senate and Congressional campaigns as proposed in the FENA bill.
Sixty percent believe that lawmakers are beholden to campaign contributors
rather than constituent voters. Most voters feel that far too much
time is spent on fundraising for campaigns instead of dealing with
problems faced by average Americans.
time for change - and the health care debate is a poster-child example
of special-interest industry influence squaring off against the
public interest in America.
Let's not squander this opportunity to seek
real reform - government of, by, and for the people. Get involved;
don't be a bystander!
WashClean Volunteers hand out 400+ fliers
at Murray Fundraiser
Sen. Patty Murray's Golden Tennis Shoe
fundraiser Seattle Convention Center featured Sen. Dick Durbin,
sponsor of the FENA bill in the U.S. Senate. WashCleaners urged
grassroots support of the FENA bill, encouraging Sen.
Murray to sign on as a co-sponsor. Attendees were pleased at receiving
the info, and nearly unanimously supportive.
Read about the bill
WPC volunteers Seth Armstrong, Jean Carlson, Ken Dammand, Jackie
& Ed Dupras, Dina Johnson, Bob Loeliger, Elsie Simon (above),
Duane Wentz, along with WPC director Craig Salins, spent Monday
morning handing out info on the FENA bill
SMOKING GUN: How deregulation - bought by
Wall Street campaign cash and lobbying - led directly to financial
stunning and well-researched report, just released, details how
the financial services industry spent more than $5 billion on federal
campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures during 1998-2008.
Report co-author Robert Weissman writes,
extraordinary investment paid off fabulously. Congress and executive
agencies rolled back long-standing regulatory restraints, refused
to impose new regulations on rapidly evolving and mushrooming areas
of finance, and shunned calls to enforce rules still in place."
"Sold Out: How
Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America" is
a well-researched report just released by Essential Information
and the Consumer Education Foundation. It details a dozen crucial
deregulatory moves over the last decade - each a direct response
to heavy lobbying from Wall Street and the broader financial sector.
Combined, these deregulatory moves helped pave
the way for the current financial meltdown.
Healthcare is about profits and political power
A battle over health
care is shaping up...again. It's overdue.
"Our health care system is failing.
It is expensive, bureaucratic, and denies care to many in
need. Americans die younger, get less care, face greater restrictions,
are less satisfied, and spend at least $1,500 more per person
on health care than Canadians or Western Europeans - nations
that have opted for non-profit national health insurance."
~ David Himmelstein, MD, Harvard Medical School Frontline:
High Price of Health, For Patients, Not For Profits:
Any connection to campaign financing,
Clean Elections? You bet!
"The powerful interests
that dominate the health care industry could challenge even
Mr. Obama's political deftness," writes Robert Pear, health
York Times, 3-1-09
If we really want affordable health care
for all, we have to curb the influence of the health care industry
influence which flows from their immense profits, reinvested
as campaign contributions and lobbying.