Charlie Cooper

published 2018 News in Current GMOM News 2019-01-30 09:07:30 -0500

2018 News

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2018

November 9 - Results from our Election Campaign

  • 15 Senators-elect and 44 Delegates-elect took the "Pledge to Get $$$ Out", including Speaker of the House Mike Busch and 3 of 4 Senate committee chairs.

  • We collected petition signatures from 1,137 new supporters.

  • 1,800 people responded actively to our Facebook information campaign.

 

 

June 25 - GMOM joined several national and state-based organizations in signing a Unity Declaration stating that the Article V convention path must be included among the strategies used to win an anti-corruption Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. This is a major development in that some of the linchpin national organizations in the fight against money corruption in U. S. politics have put aside differences.

 

April 9 - The session ended and the Democracy Amendment Resolution did not pass.

We were unable to get a favorable report in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, despite a promise of support from Senate President Miller. Even though Maryland Conference NAACP has been an active GMOM ally for five years, senators Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Barbara Robinson – both co-sponsors –  abstained after being told by opponents that the NAACP opposed the Resolution. Although NAACP corrected the misinformation, the abstentions proved fatal. The vote on the motion for a favorable report was 5 favorable, 3 unfavorable, 3 abstention/absence. We got 5 favorable votes, but 6 votes are required for a favorable report, and the motion failed. We were unable to muster 8 votes in the Committee to win a reconsideration.

Read the full session report ....

 

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March 15 - With strong support from Speaker Mike Busch, the House of Delegates passed HJ 11, the Democracy Amendment Resolution, by a vote of 94-42. The amended Resolution limits the topic of a convention to "authorizing the regulation of contributions and expenditures intended to influence elections."

The 2018 Democracy Amendment Resolution, by Del. Tawanna Gaines and 75 other co-sponsors, is HJ 11. View the March 5 hearing  (Start at 1:02:00.)

The Senate version is SJ 7 by Sen. Paul Pinsky and 24 co-sponsors. The hearing was February 8 before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. View (Start at 1:27:00.)

 

 


MORE NEWS:

 

November 9, 2018: The Democracy Movement won ballot questions in 14 states across the nation. Read more.

November 7, 2018: In Benisek v. Lamone, Republican voters from Western Maryland argued that their freedom of association under the First Amendment was unconstitutionally violated by Democrats' gerrymandering. The Supreme Course sent the case back down to a 3-judge panel last June. The panel has now agreed with the plaintiffs, and the case can go directly back to the high court for a potentially groundbreaking decision on political gerrymandering.

September 18, 2018: The Supreme Court decided not to block a U.S. District Court order requiring some dark money groups to disclose their donors. There is some question about whether the Federal Election Commission can publish a new regulation quickly enough to be implemented for the upcoming mid-term election. The dark money groups could still appeal to the high court and may still find ways to hide their donors behind blandly-named non-profit groups. Read more.

September 10, 2018: FiveThirtyEight.com reports, "Collectively, U.S. House candidates raised more money by Aug. 27 than House candidates raised during the entire 2014 midterm election cycle, and Senate candidates weren’t far behind." This is a wide-ranging survey article. They point out that big donors often give to those whom they think will win - rather than to help them win.

August 27, 2018: A U. S. District Court found that North Carolina's Congressional districts are unconstitutionally based on partisan advantage and required that they be redrawn before the November 2018 election, Rick Hasen reports. The case had been sent back down from the Supreme Court for reconsideration. The Supreme Court could review the case, but with only 8 justices sitting, there could be a tie in that body.

July 16, 2018: The U. S. Department of the Treasury adopted a rule making it easier for illegal election spending to elude detection. 501(c)(4) corporations (so-called "social welfare" groups) do not make their donors public. Under the new ruling, they will also not have to identify donors to the IRS. These groups often pass money through to Super PACs, which only have to report the name of the 501(c)(4) rather than the identities of the individual or corporate donors. The IRS can still request the information by audit, but the practical effect is that foreign individuals, governments, corporations, and even criminal bosses can give money to the 501(c)(4), which can then spend it to influence elections. According to Bloomberg News, "Larry Noble, a former general counsel with the Federal Election Commission [said,] 'It will ... make it easier for large contributors to hide oney that is being used to influence elections, including money given by foreign interests.' Among the organizations with 501(c)(4) status are the National Rifle Association, the Democratic Socialists of America, the AARP, and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire brother Charles and David Koch."

June 22, 2018: Independent reporter Greg Palast criticized the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision allowing Ohio election officials to purge voters from the rolls if they did not vote in a federal election and then did not return a post card asking whether they have moved. Federal law bars states from removing voters solely for not voting.

June 19, 2018: The Supreme Court failed to issue decisive rulings on gerrymandering in both the Wisconsin and Maryland cases. Their "la-dee-dah" approach to the crisis of democracy is another disappointment and another reason that grassroots organizing is absolutely necessary.

June 13, 2018: Maine voters passed a ballot measure instituting ranked choice voting despite the rabid opposition of the political establishment. They used a "people's veto" to nullify an act of the legislature, which opposed the voting method. Proponents say ranked choice voting will lead to more positive campaigns.

May 15, 2018: The University of Maryland's Center for Public Integrity reports: "Three-fourths of survey respondents — including 66 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats — back a constitutional amendment outlawing Citizens United." A long form of the report is full of great information.

May 8, 2018: Ohio voters passed a Constitutional Amendment by ballot initiative that will drastically reduce partisan gerrymandering in that state.

February 23, 2018: USA Today reports about the  2018 mid-term elections: "Donations from 10 super-rich individuals account for more than 20% of the money filling the bank accounts of federal super PACs….”

October 28, 2017: This Washington Post/University of Maryland poll on problems in U. S. democracy found that 96% blame money in politics for causing dysfunction in the U.S. political system.


 


published Mike Busch - Democracy Champion in Current GMOM News 2018-05-24 11:35:18 -0400

Mike Busch - Democracy Champion

Speaker Mike Busch listened to constituents

The Democracy Amendment Resolution is the strongest possible action that Maryland can take to reverse several bad decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court. These decisions enable the "messaging" of multi-national corporations and the ultra-wealthy to drown out the voices of millions of working citizens.

1,000 constituents in District 30A asked Speaker Busch to support the Democracy Amendment Resolution (HJ 11). 100 constituents sent him letters and several hundred more made phone calls.

He asked questions and weighed the opposition's arguments. The Speaker responded to his constituents. He led the Delegation to pass the bill, with 8 Republicans joining. On March 15, 2018, HJ 11 passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 94-42.

 

(Get Money Out does not endorse or oppose candidates for office. We provide information regarding which candidates and legislators support election reform legislation.)

 

See the full list of Democracy Champions

 


published 2015News in Current GMOM News 2018-05-06 11:50:11 -0400

2015News

 Excellent Progress in Maryland in 2015

Thanks to you, our amazing supporters, and to responsive voters who contacted legislators, SJ 2, our full Democracy Amendment Resolution passed the Maryland Senate, 29-18 on April 8. Major thanksHixson also go to our sponsor, Sen. Pinsky, to committee Chair Joan Carter Conway, and to Senate President Mike Miller.pinsky.jpg

We came very, very close to an amazing victory April 13 when the 2015 General Assembly ended. GMOM volunteers and supporters had again made heroic efforts by phone banking, contacting legislators, and visiting legislators. We succeeded in lining up majority support in both chambers and were closing in on victory. The House Rules Committee, however, put in a weakening amendment that removed the call for an Article V convention of the States (see "We the People," below). The Senate stood firm and appointed a conference committee to iron out differences, but the House did not reciprocate.
CONTINUE READING

Our 2015 sponsors: Del. Sheila Hixson (left) and Sen. Paul Pinsky (right)


Progress Nationwide: Four States Pass Amendment Resolutions!

RaskinFour states so far - Vermont, California, Illinois and New Jersey have passed binding resolutions in both chambers calling on Congress to call an Article V amendments convention of the states for democracy reform. Thirty more are needed. Let's ensure Maryland joins them in 2016!

MD State Senator (D, 20) and Constitutional Law Professor Jamie Raskin


 


published 2016News in Current GMOM News 2018-05-05 12:26:09 -0400

2016News

April 11, 2016

Maryland's Democracy Amendment Resolution died in the House of Delegates as the General Assembly adjourned for 2016. Speaker Mike Busch did not permit a vote in the House Rules Committee even though he indicated verbally that a vote would occur. In the last two days of the session, Rules Committee members were told that the White House called about our Resolution, and the implication was to keep it bottled up.

GMOM volunteers generated 6,500 petition messages and hundreds more phone calls to legislators. Rep. Van Hollen and Pastor Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church added their strong voices. Attacks against the idea of an amendment convention have worked with some legislators but others seemed to support us even more strongly. Although we are investigating, at this writing, we have been unable to confirm whether someone from the White House called the Speaker's office, or what they may have said. The one thing that we are sure of is that we will come back next year stronger and better prepared.


Watch this powerful video about the Democracy Spring march and civil disobedience that are happening NOW!


 
On February 29, 1016, Delegate Will Smith, District 20, Montgomery County, led testimony in favor of the Democracy Amendment Resolution at a Hearing of the House Rules Committee. GMOM presented 1500 petitions signed by Maryland voters supporting HJ 8.  Big thanks to Delegate Smith and more than 30 citizen advocates from GMOM and Wolf-PAC who came to Annapolis to fight big money in politics.


Congressman Chris Van Hollen also supported the Democracy Amendment Resolution by submitting a written statement to the House Rules Committee, and a statement to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.  

Get Money Out Maryland does not endorse candidates to office.

 

Sen. Paul Pinsky has introduced SJ 2. It was heard in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 18, 2016.

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Del. Will Smith has introduced the House Version. HJ 8. It was heard by the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee February 29, 2016, 1:00 PM.

 

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Progress in Maryland in 2016

We did it. We Unlocked the Vote! The Maryland Senate overrode the veto of SB 340/HB 980, allowing ex-felons to vote when returned to the community. Thank you for your messages to legislators.


REDISTRICTING REFORM (to counter Gerrymandering): Governor Hogan has appointed a 11-member Redistricting Commission to:

    • Study solutions, including others states with non-partisan commissions
    • Conduct regional summits
    • Provide for citizen input via Internet
    • Promote redistricting reform
    • Develop a recommended constitutional amendment

Read the Commission's Report.                                                      See the Commission Membership     

GMOM supports the Commission's recommendations and will work during the General Assembly session for improved redistricting procedures.


On Election day of 2016, voters across the nation decided 18 ballot questions relating to certain democracy reforms. For details, click here.

  • Howard County voters created a public campaign finance fund. Voters across the nation supported advisory resolutions to overturn Citizens United.
  • South Dakota voters enacted public campaign finance and other important reforms.
  • In all, we count 16 victories and 1 defeat.

News Flash! June 18, 2016

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Rhode Island has passed H. 7670 and become the 5th state to apply to Congress for a convention of the States to draft the 28th Amendment to the Constitution - the Democracy Amendment. Watch the inspiring story of a citizen victory here.

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, the Rhode Island House voted 59-12 for approval - a party-line vote. The Senate approved the Resolution on Friday, June 17, with no dissenting votes.


n Election day of 2016, voters across the nation decided 18 ballot questions relating to certain democracy reforms. For details, click here.

  • Howard County voters created a public campaign finance fund. Voters across the nation supported advisory resolutions to overturn Citizens United.
  • South Dakota voters enacted public campaign finance and other important reforms.
  • In all, we count 16 victories and 1 defeat.

published 2017News in Current GMOM News 2018-05-05 12:18:42 -0400

2017News

February, 2017

Wisconsin's Marc Pocan, Georgia's John Lewis, Maryland's Elijah Cummings, Maryland's Jamie Raskin and 40 more have introduced to the House of Representatives a proposed Constitutional Amendment, which states: "Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides."


April 25, 2017

GMOM believes that the fight for fair elections - the fight against big money influence and voter suppression - is a fight for the soul of democracy in our nation. We must inspire, organize, and mobilize ourselves and pursue every available path, including the Article V convention.

Despite our record-setting efforts, the Democracy Amendment Resolution (DAR) did not get a vote in the 2017 General Assembly. A national organization is fighting us tooth and nail, and a key Delegate undermined our effort. Nevertheless, we did make progress in having access to and influence with leadership of the respective chambers, and we helped pass three bills on money in politics. Keep reading to get more detail on legislators who provided special support or who opposed the DAR.

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Check out this 13-minute video by Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks Network.  featuring Maryland volunteers from Wolf PAC and GMOM talking to their legislators.



Good Bills That Passed

SB 130 by Sen. Bryan Simonaire – Prohibits a foreign principal from making a contribution or spending money to influence the outcome of a ballot issue.  simonaire.jpg
HB 898 by Del. Eric Ebersole – Defines “coordinated expenditure” to aid in enforcing the prohibition on coordination between campaigns and political parties, on the one hand, and dark money sources and so-called “independent spenders,” on the other hand. ebersole01.jpg 
HB 1498 by Del. Alonzo Washington – Requires so-called “independent spenders” to identify a human being who lives in Maryland as resident agent and requires that individuals who violate the law on reporting campaign spending must pay the fines levied against them or be barred from future participation in influencing elections.  washington_a.jpg


Your Record-Setting Efforts for the Democracy Amendment Resolution in 2016-7

Our Education/Outreach Committee worked to create huge leaps in the number of GMOM speaking engagements and in the effectiveness of our social media presence

Our Legislative Committee secured support from Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Pastor Delman Coates, MD Conference NAACP, and the Chesapeake Climate Action network.

 Petitioning_Dona.jpg 2.958 petition signers for 2017 – 77% more than in the prior year.
 phonetalk1.jpg 3,200 new GMOM supporters (petition signers, callers, and others), equal to the total number recruited in the previous 3-1/2 years of our existence.
 pinsky.jpggaines.jpg 22 co-sponsors for Senator Paul Pinsky’s version of the DAR, SJ 4. 61 co-sponsors for Delegate Tawanna Gaines’ version, HJ 6.
 Busch_Miller.jpg  Senate Pres. Miller told 3 GMOM Board members that he supports the DAR. House Speaker Busch invited us to meet with him after the completion of the 2017 session.

 

So What the Heck Happened? Why Didn't We Get a Vote on the DAR?

The Senate passed the DAR in 2015, and the Senate President does not want to devote further floor time to the DAR until the House initiates action. Rules Committee Chair Anne Healey did not hold a vote on the DAR. The House version – HJ 6 – did not get a vote because the leadership determined that discussion on the floor regarding the Article V convention process created an unfavorable atmosphere.

Discussion on the House floor over another resolution – HJ 2/SJ 2, which repealed Maryland’s prior applications for an Article V convention - created the unfavorable atmosphere for the DAR. The prior calls were passed between 1939 and 1975.[i] We supported that Resolution because we agree that actions taken between 42 and 78 years ago should not bind Maryland now and that "[t]he need to advance these various policy reforms should be debated anew.”

Unfortunately, Rules Committee Chair Anne Healey urged passage of this Repeal Resolution on the faulty grounds that a convention of the states would be dangerous and could lead to amendments that would damage individual citizens’ protections under the Bill of Rights.

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Her speech closely tracked the misleading talking points provided by Common Cause, which has obstructed efforts in many states to achieve the 28th Amendment using the Article V Convention process. Common Cause routinely fails to mention that any amendment proposed by a Convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states - a formidable barrier to the enactment of an unwise amendment. Common Cause also implies that a “Constitutional Convention” could “enact” amendments. In fact, Article V permits “a Convention for proposing Amendments" (emphasis added), not a "Constitutional Convention."

In taking that course, Del. Healey rejected a key element of the U. S. constitution - an element which was provided to protect citizens from an unresponsive or corrupt Congress. Del. Healey chooses to avoid directly confronting the forces supporting big money in politics on the basis that we should be afraid of them. District 16 Delegate Bill Frick, House Majority Leader, shares many of these views. You can listen to Del. Healey and her exchange with other delegates here. And you can hear GMOM volunteer Susan Ogden refute her points here.

 

District 27 Senator Mike Miller, President of the Senate, expressed his support for the DAR. Please send him a thank-you message by e-mailing him at thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us or by calling his office in Clinton at 301-868-6931.

 

District 28 Senator Thomas Middleton has been extremely helpful to us in winning support within the Senate leadership.

District 30A Delegate Mike Busch, Speaker of the House, did not support the DAR this year, and there was no vote on it in the House Rules Committee. He did invite us to meet with him again. We continue to believe that if he makes his support known during the 2018 session, the Rules Committee will be inclined to issue a favorable report.

Common Cause's only strategy for winning an Amendment is to persuade Congress to propose it. We believe - and our supporters in the Congress confirm - that no progress will be made toward the 28th Amendment using a Congress-only path for the foreseeable future. In addition, the appointment of Justice Gorsuch means that the Supreme Court will not be overruling itself any time soon on campaign finance matters.

Get Money Out believes strongly in pursuing both paths laid out in Article V of the Constitution to build support for the 28th Amendment. To do otherwise is to ask citizens to fight voter suppression and big money in politics with one hand tied behind our backs. Click here for our full explanation of why we reject the “runaway convention” theory and other fear-based opposition to the full use of Article V.


[i] “These calls include: (1) House Resolution (1939) (unconfirmed) calling for limitations on the federal taxing power; (2) House Joint Resolution 40 (1964) calling for standards concerning the size and boundaries of congressional districts; (3) Senate Joint Resolution 1 (1965) calling for legislative autonomy concerning the apportionment of State legislative bodies; (4) Senate Resolution 47 (1973) (unconfirmed), a memorial from the Senate of Maryland calling for the allowance of school prayer in public schools; and (5) Senate Joint Resolution 4 (1975) calling for a balanced federal budget. It is generally believed that these calls never expire, and current generations are now bound by decisions made in a different time and culture. The need to advance these various policy reforms should be debated anew, and not bind future generations without any consideration. . . .”

 


published Action in Congress in Resources 2014-06-30 06:48:51 -0400

Action in Congress

The U. S. Senate held a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on June 3, 2014, on S. J. Res. 19, by Sen. Udall of New Mexico. 

CLICK HERE for GMOM's eyewitness account.

A subcommittee then amended S. J. Res. 19 in mid-June.  It is improved in 3 ways:

  1. It adds the word "reasonable" to the limitations Congress or the States may impose on campaign contributions and spending.
  2. It now seems to cover referenda and ballot questions as well as elections for office.
  3. It now explicitly allows Congress and the states to limit corporate political rights.

CLICK HERE for the text of the amendment.

Maryland Senator Jamie Raskin testifies in the U. S. Senate on whether money equals free speech.

In September 2014 Republicans in the Senate blocked action on S. J. Res. 19, and no further action has been taken as of July 2017.



CLICK HERE to see proposed Amendment Resolutions pending in the current Congress



19 States and 750 local governments have asked Congress to overturn Citizens United, allow Congress to regulate campaign contributions and elections spending, or to reserve Constitutional rights to natural persons. 


 

NOTE: Appealing directly to Congress to propose an amendment is not GMOM's primary focus.


47:32 …runaway Supreme Court.”


published Meeting Notes - 061814 in Past Events & Meetings 2014-06-23 17:02:11 -0400

Meeting Notes - 061814

 

MONTHLY MEETING NOTES

June 18, 2014

 

VIEW PICTURES OF THIS MEETING.

Present: Matthew Munk, Chief Organizer, CROP; Charly Carter, Executive Director, Maryland Working Families; Jean Athey, leader of the Fund Our Communities Campaign; Michael Lore, Eli and Scott Morton; Adam Leech, Chris Croke, Doug Miller;  Suman and Dharna Noor; Dianne Black; Joe and Sue Garonzik; Gene Balbierz; Noel Levy; Dan Gutkin; Lily Wang; Chris Martin; Ruth Alice White; Jon Wiener; Pam Berry; Board Members Joe Adams (Secretary), Wylie Burge, Hillary Kruh, Angad Singh, Mark Patro (Vice President, and Charlie Cooper (President).

Michael Lore and Charlie Cooper reported on the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing of June 3.  GMOM Board member Bonnie Lane also attended along with supporters Bob Guldin and Darrell Tschakert.  Charlie Cooper’s written/video report is attached.

Charlie reported that GMOM now has 636 supporters, including 56 new people since the end of the legislative session.  Wylie Burge reported good success in training new recruits with the Theory of Change presentation supplied by Wolf PAC.

VIEW PICTURES OF THIS MEETING.

Matthew Munk gave a brief presentation on CROP – Coalition of Rooted Organizing Projects.  GMOM provided voters lists for their target areas: Baltimore County, Baltimore City, and Southern Maryland.  They have organizers in place and can use the lists to contact people by various methods, including door-to-door.  They will support GMOM’s campaign for the Democracy Amendment.

Charly Carter gave a similar briefing on Maryland Working Families.  It is a new organization but with affiliates in several other states, fighting to expand the middle class.  They also have organizers in place in districts that are important for GMOM and are prepared to support GMOM’s campaign for the Democracy Amendment.

Jean Athey reported for Fund Our Communities.  Comprised of dozens of organizations (which were listed on the back of the meeting agenda), they have had direct experience with the money power of defense contractors defeating their legislative initiatives and are prepared to actively support GMOM’s campaign for the Democracy Amendment.

Announcements

Charlie reported that our Wolf PAC affiliate in California has now seen their resolution passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 5-2.  Since the lower chaber has already acted favorably in January, this vote paves the way for California to becomes the second state to issue the convention call for the 28th Amendment.

The U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on amending the Voting Rights Act (in light of Shelby v. Holder) on Wednesday, June 25.

Maryland Committee to Amend has planned the following activities:

  • Friday June 20 – distribute leaflets at the showing of the new film, “Citizen Koch” at West End Cinema, 2301 M Street NW, Wash., DC.
  • Takoma Park Fourth of July Parade. We’ll have a banner and some flyers to hand out along the route.

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming for Key District Action:

Partial Notes from Monthly Meeting of June 18, 2014

 

GMOM has the following District Captains:

ü  Mark Patro – District 8

ü  Darrell Tschakert – District 17

ü  Wylie Burge – District 30

ü  Angad Singh – District 42

 

The meeting concluded with the entire group brainstorming actions and strategies for district teams:

       Tabling (e.g., at MOM’s) in key districts with immediate cell calls to delegate’s/senator’s office.  E-mailing is ok for those who don’t want to call.

       Script out what we want people to say to delegates/senators

  • One script for raising the general issue of the corruption of money in politics and the need for reform
  • A more specific script asking for support for The Democracy Amendment Resolution

       Canvas – if we can identify fruitful neighborhoods

       Connect with churches and other groups in key areas

       Connect with college groups

       Develop a team roster document for each district to facilitate

       communication within the team

       Speak up when you see your delegate/senator at the beauty parlor, grocery store, . . . .

       Raise our issue at a League of Women Voters debate

       Join a team nearby if you don’t live in a key district

       Call in to radio talk shows

       Activate GMOM phonebanking to recruit team members, especially for Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties

       Encourage people to write:

  • Letters to editor
  • Op-eds
  • To senators/delegates

 

 

REPORT FROM U. S. SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

HEARING OF JUNE 3, 2014, ON S. J. RES. 19

“EXAMINING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE”

Presented June 18, 2014 at GMOM Monthly Meeting

(Acknowledgement to Bob Guldin’s Account for the material in italics.)

The Senate Judiciary hearing June 3 at the Hart Senate Office Building was big. In fact, it had to be moved to the largest hearing room available – probably about 300 people attended.

The hearing, on the “Udall amendment” was officially titled “Examining a Constitutional Amendment to Restore Democracy to the American People.” It’s also known as the Udall amendment, after its chief sponsor, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) It proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn Citizens United.

Note that H. J. Res. 19 allows regulation of contributions and expenditures but says nothing about the line of SCOTUS cases that seem to imply that corporations have constitutional rights.  H. J. Res. 18 by Sen. Tester would fix that, but the Democratic leadership has not moved that resolution.

Word had gone out that the lead-off witnesses would be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, which helped to draw the large crowd. Pro-amendment groups like Public Citizen, Move to Amend and People for the American Way also asked supporters to attend. At one point, activists wheeled in cardboard boxes containing petitions with two million signatures in favor of an amendment – an impressive visual show.

Ryan Clayton, Executive Director of Wolf PAC was one of the activists who wheeled in the stack of  a dozen or so boxes full of petitions.  (See attached photo.)  It was said that there were 2 million signatures.

Ryan with Petitions

The Senate Democratic leadership reportedly has decided to hold a floor vote on the amendment this summer, and all of the senators’ statements and questions reflected their parties’ position. All Democrats spoke or leaned in favor, all Republicans were strongly critical.

Harry Reid said the nation needs to block “a flow of dark money.” He said the fundraising and spending in his 1998 made him feel “unclean.”  I hope that it did not corrupt me," Reid said. "But it was corrupting."  Reid said that in his next race, after passage of the McCain-Feingold bill limiting campaign contributions, "I felt like I'd taken a bath."  After the court gutted McCain-Feingold, during his 2010 race, it was "back to the sewer.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/reid-mcconnell-duel-campaign-finance-amendment-article-1.1815944#ixzz351Lq8XcD

Mitch McConnell said the Democrats’ “goal is to stir up the party’s political base so they’ll show up in November.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a member of the committee, was the most extreme opponent, saying the Udall amendment would effectively repeal the First Amendment.  Video of McConnell: 10-47 seconds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvvkEENzBxA

Democrats cited S. J. Res. 166, introduced by Sen. McConnell on June 19, 1987, a proposed constitutional amendment to regulate “the amounts of expenditures a candidate may make from his personal funds or the personal funds . . . and congress may enact laws regulating the amounts of independent expenditures by any person, other than by a . . . political party . . . .”

Three additional people also testified as expert witnesses: Floyd McKissick Jr., an African American state senator and civil rights leader from North Carolina; Floyd Abrams, a celebrated civil liberties advocate who opposes the Udall amendment because it would limit speech; and brilliant constitutional lawyer, amendment advocate and Maryland state senator Jamie Raskin, who said, “If we do nothing now, the people will no longer govern the corporations – the corporations will govern the people.”

The hearing ended without any motions made or votes taken.  There was a markup meeting on S. J. Res. 19 today in Sen. Durbin’s Subcommittee.

Jamie, I thought, did a good job of trying to keep the issue of limiting corporate constitutional rights before the Committee.  Of course, the Udall Amendment (SJR 19) doesn’t have any provision to limit corporate constitutional rights.  Jamie Raskin on why money is not speech, 1 min. 15 sec.:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDt13XzxsGw

Jamie Raskin on unwarranted corporate power in politics, 1 min. 35 sec.:

http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/watch?hearingid=783d952c-5056-a032-52cd-09a7a8e6a1af  Start at 1:25:40 – 1:26:47

 I thought Sen. Klobuchar of Minnesota scored the most telling hit on opponents of the amendment just before a break in the questioning.  She asked Floyd Abrams, a respected constitutional lawyer, who is part of the brain trust that led to the filing of an amicus curiae brief with the SCOTUS in favor of Citizens United in the 2010 case, whether he would favor eliminating individual limits.  He replied that he thinks it would be ok if there were rapid disclosure (which, of course, there isn’t) and that he could see the Supreme Court going in that direction.  Jamie and Floyd exchange provided by Jaisal Noor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i15OKKCcM5k&feature=youtu.be

Of course, this undermines even the quid pro quo standard which the Court has tried to maintain as the only remaining constitutional basis for any regulation of campaign contributions or spending.  Jamie pounced on this answer.

Hopefully, this exchange will give amendment advocates some material with which to further erode the position of defenders of Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC.  However, it has gotten absolutely no media play.  We need to figure out how to “capitalize” on it.