November - December
Results from our Election Campaign
15 Senators-elect and 47 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.
Democrats in the U. S. Congress will make campaign finance reform a high priority. There will be disclosure, campaign finance reform, and ethics measures in the omnibus bill. Maryland District 3 Representative John Sarbanes will be the lead sponsor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ohio voters passed a Constitutional Amendment by ballot initiative that will drastically reduce partisan gerrymandering in that state.
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 ....
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."
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….”