American Elections: The Challenge of Dark Money and Voting Machines

The Network for Responsible Public Policy Presents

American Elections: The Challenge of  Dark Money and Voting Machines  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Rose Memorial Library Lecture Hall*

Drew University

36 Madison Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940

The integrity of our American electoral process is being challenged from both outside and inside the voting machine. When large sums of dark money are funneled into state or local elections by special interests having an immediate economic stake in the outcome, the impact on state legislation and regulations can be even more influential than at the federal level. At the same time, because the majority of voting machines in use today are perilously outdated, their potential security and reliability flaws create significant risk of machine failures or loss of data. The speakers will discuss these two distinct challenges and recommend reforms to improve the fairness and security of our elections.

Douglas Keith is an attorney and the Katz Fellow in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. He has co-authored the Brennan Center report Secret Spending in the States.  Prior to joining the Brennan Center, he worked on voting rights litigation as a Ford Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow at Advancement Project and trained poll workers for the New York City Board of Elections.

Christopher Famighetti is a Voting Rights Researcher at the Brennan Center specializing in the impact of laws and policies on access to the polls. Chris is co-author of the Brennan Center report America’s Voting Machines at Risk.  He also contributes research on campaign fundraising and spending for the Center’s Money in Politics program.





Network for Responsible Public Policy is a non-partisan, 501c3 organization committed to providing authoritative information on key public policy issues to its network and to the public.

* Building 16 on Campus Map at

From Route 124 (Madison Avenue) turn onto Lancaster Rd. and
drive to parking lot on right

Tomorrow Starts the American Promise

nclc_page_picture_cropTomorrow , people from around the country will gather in Washington DC to discuss how to secure our democracy from the corrupting influence of money by ratifying the 28th Amendment.

The National Citizen Leadership Conference

Bill Moyers will be the keynote speaker.

Not in the DC area?  Consider a membership.

American Promise

NJOCU and other New Jersey organizations will have representatives at the conference and we’ll be sure to offer updates right here in the next few weeks.

While the state of New Jersey is on record in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy , we will someday sooner or later be asked to consider and ratify some specific amendment(s).  That’s why we continue to advocate on this site and why we all should remain informed and engaged.

Thanks for sticking with us!


GetMoneyOut! – New York joins 16 other states


New York has become the 17th state to formally call for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.

Just look at all the states that support overturning Citizens United:

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia

That’s nearly 40% of the U.S. population.

But we can’t stop now.  Fully 80% of Americans believe we must overturn Citizens United.

Having a constructive debate on the most important issues of our time requires a working democracy.  That idea requires a sensible campaign finance system and a government without a revolving door to and back from the lobbying industry.

Public Citizen was key to the successful campaign we waged in New Jersey in 2012 and Public Citizen was again important in New York.  We applaud everyone’s efforts.  Next up are Washington, Arkansas and New Hampshire, among others.


How far the movement has come!


Public Citizen is not the only group committed to a 28th Amendment.  There are also these:

Money Out Voters In

America Promise


Please Note, UPDATE:  Soon after our victory in NY State, Rhode Island became the 5th state to call for an Amendments Convention to overturn Citizens United.  So you can add a 5th “V” to the map above.

NY becomes the 17th State – More of the story:


Call on the President to take executive action

It is reasonable, constitutional and appropriate for the president in his duties to the American Public as the ‘Administrator-in-Chief’ to make those companies seeking federal contracts disclose their political spending.  We have a right to know how they spend money politically.  Even the Citizens United v FEC majority decision cites DISCLOSURE as the first remedy.


The president is expected to administer the government effectively. This disclosure is one of the simplest ways, not involving a constitutional amendment or the passage of new laws, to make governance more accountable. But it does still require the president to make the call and administer his spending programs with this requirement going forward.

You may have previously signed a petition on this matter.  If so, THANK YOU.  Petitions have been delivered from several organizations to the White House over the last year and they have moved the debate closer to victory.  But now we are approaching a moment of truth.  The president is expected to decide soon.  It’s time to make a direct appeal.

Like most of the ‘Clicktivism’ campaigns we have suggested to you before, this one is really quite easy.  You call a number; you’re routed to a Comments Line at the White House.  You speak your mind free form or simply read from the script.  For the author of this blog it took about two minutes to get through and then say, “I want the president to sign an executive order demanding that federal contractors disclose their political spending.”

Common Cause explains the Action Here.  <–Click the link

Common Cause will guide you through the action and help you then spread the word for others to join our effort.  Please note that the action STARTED on June 8th, but will remain active for the remainder of this week and into next week.  But the sooner you call, the more obvious our coordinated effort will be to those in White House.  It’s easy, so why not do it now?



Money Control of Politics: The Broken American Promise and How to Fix It

Just a quick blog today to mention an event in Morristown, NJ on Thursday evening of this week. These speakers are excellent and will take you to the heart of the money in politics question. I strongly recommend making this event. New Jersey Get Money Out groups will have people there as well.  Don’t miss it.

Details and Registration here.  NJPPN Money Control Program – or check out the details below:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

7:30pm – 9:30pm


2 Convent Rd *
Morristown, NJ 07960


The Citizens United decision has led to an unprecedented influx of money in our elections, causing a shift of political power away from ordinary citizens and toward the large money donors. Witnessing growing governmental dysfunction and the non-responsiveness of elected officials, too many Americans no longer trust the political process. Our democratic system includes powerful mechanisms for repair, but fixing the broken American promise will require concerted citizen action.



Timothy K. Kuhner is associate professor of law at Georgia State University and author of Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution. He will discuss how the Supreme Court went wrong in applying a market-based analysis to the political sphere of our Constitution, and how this has caused the effective transformation of our form of government from a democracy to a plutocracy.

Jeffrey D. Clements is president of American Promise, co-founder of Free Speech for People and author of Corporations are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations. He will speak to how the political transformation has resulted in major legislative changes that benefit special interests rather than the public interest, and how this can be remedied by passage of the 28th amendment and other citizen action.




* Directions from Rt. 124/Madison Ave: turn off Madison Ave onto Convent Rd, cross tracks, make first right at guard station and park in front of large building w/portico.


North Jersey Public Policy Network is a non-partisan, 501c3 organization committed to providing authoritative information on key public policy issues to its network and to the public.

The State of Money in Politics – Star Panel at Lipton Hall

The Brennan Center for Justice presents

The State of Money in Politics


Thursday, May 7, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


6:00 p.m. Registration and Reception
6:30 p.m. Program


Lipton Hall, NYU School of Law
108 West Third Street
New York, NY 10012




Jeff Clements
Board Chair, Free Speech for People
Author, Corporations Are Not People


Zephyr Teachout
Associate Professor, Fordham Law School
Author, Corruption in America


Ellen Weintraub
Commissioner, Federal Election Commission


moderated by:


Daniel Weiner
Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice


The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC reshaped the American political landscape, giving the wealthy more power to influence elections than at any time since Watergate and opening the floodgates for dark money in U.S. elections. Five years after the Supreme Court decision that set these trends in motion, what is the state of money in politics today? What are the emerging issues and paths for reform going forward?


**Attendees will receive 1.5 CLE credits in the Areas of Professional Practice. Credit will be both transitional and non-transitional.**


Please RSVP at


If you have any questions, please contact Brennan Center Events Manager, Jafreen Uddin, at or 646.292.8345.

Join the fight with your Clicktivism

Sometimes ACTIVISM is EASY. You click on stuff and make your opinion known. It’s known as clicktivism and WE ARE CLICKING here at New Jersey for the Overturn of Citizens United. JOIN US!


First off – are you on Twitter? Please follow us on Twitter!

Or on Facebook? We’re there too.


You may have seen that Common Cause is petitioning Obama to use an Executive Order to make Federal Contractors disclose their political spending. At NJOCU we are hopeful that THIS particular petition can garner 100,000 signatures over the next three weeks. Please CLICK now – and sign.
Whitehouse Dot Gov Petition to the President


Oh and by the way, if you’re ambitious, you can sign Common Cause’s petition too.
Common Cause Petition to the President


Now admit it. That was pretty easy, eh? Yeah, there will be hard stuff later. But it’s always easier when we stand together.


Ann Rea takes the reigns at NJOCU

Here at New Jersey for the Overturn of Citizens United (NJOCU) we are happy to introduce Ann Rea as our new State Coordinator. Ann has for several years been steadily engaged in the issue of money in politics. She is a founding member and the current leader of Restore Democracy, a working group within the North Jersey Public Policy Network. Restore Democracy strives to get money out of politics by calling attention to the issue and studying what would be the best legislative remedies.

Ann has also worked to get out the vote in numerous local, state and federal elections, with a special initiative for the 2013 ballot question to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey, and in 2014 for paid sick leave in Montclair. She has been coordinator for BlueWaveNJ’s Electoral Reform Working Group and a member of Democracy for America-NJ.

Early to recognize and address this issue, in 2007, Ann was part of a coalition that included BlueWaveNJ, Citizens Action NJ, the Brennen Center for Justice and the NJ Chamber of Commerce. Through their efforts, a pilot program was enacted to publicly finance elections in that year’s NJ Legislative elections. While the pilot program was not made permanent in New Jersey, this finance system is now used successfully in New York City as well as in state elections in Connecticut, Maine and Arizona.

Professionally, Ann Rea enjoyed a career in the garment industry designing textile prints and overseeing fabric production for Jones New York. After the 2004 presidential election she realized that voting was not enough, and that she had to do more.

Why is it important to get the money out of politics? Ann: “Until our Legislators are beholden to the voters for their office, they will keep representing the wishes of the donors and not the American people. The question is: do you want an oligarchy or a democracy? The more money in our elections, the less democracy in our government.”


We would also like to wish Susannah Newman, our fearless founder, the best in her upcoming move to the Washington DC region, where she will be closer to family and closer to the action for her continued activism. Susannah plans to remain engaged in NJOCU. It will be great to have a direct ally in the nation’s capital.

The Media Continue to Overlook the Biggest Story

By Tony Giordano    (posted by administrator)

What would you say is the nation’s most significant news story of the year? Of the decade?

If you’re like most people your answer would be highly influenced by the stories given the most attention by the news media—Ebola, ISIS, conflicts overseas, political polarization—to name a few.

In prior years I felt that climate change was the most significant story, and one that has been under-reported by the media. Although climate change is finally getting some attention, it’s not nearly enough considering the magnitude of the problem coupled with the inadequacy of the actions being taken.

But there’s another story that is perhaps of equal significance, albeit of a different nature, and continues to receive surprisingly little attention by most of the mass media. That is the story of the huge growth of money in politics and how it is destroying our democracy– by causing politicians to be preoccupied with their big campaign donors and lobbyists and to neglect the problems of everyday Americans.

Research is confirming what many have suspected—that our once proud democracy is being turned into oligarchy by all the big money flowing into politics as a result of recent Supreme Court decisions. One study found that economic elites and groups representing business have substantial impacts on government policy while average citizens have little or no influence. Another study looked at the U.S. Senate and similarly found that only the wealthy have an influence on policy.

For most of my lifetime I did not think it possible that something as precious and central to the American way of life– democratic government– could ever disappear from this land of Jefferson and Lincoln. For one, what I presumed would be such total, unmitigated outrage from the people and our elected representatives at even the slight prospect of declining democracy would surely prevent any further decline.

But sadly, there has not been much outrage, nor broad attention from the media or anywhere else, and nothing seems to be stopping the demise of our democracy. When elected representatives work primarily for the interests of their big donors and ignore everyday Americans, that’s not democracy.

The implications of this situation are many and far-reaching. The broad middle class now faces a multitude of grave problems that are largely being ignored by politicians. If you look at the political agenda that polls show most Americans support, you see that Americans want such things as climate change action, higher wages and protection of worker rights, stronger social safety net programs, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, an end to corporate welfare, and tighter gun control.

However, when you look at what our elected representatives are doing or proposing, you find that they are not only ignoring the wishes of most Americans, they’re actually taking the opposite approach on many of these issues. That’s right– our elected representatives are doing the opposite of what most Americans want from their government!

A prime example is tax policy for corporations and the wealthy. While most Americans want these taxes raised, numerous loopholes and tax subsidies continue or have expanded, so that one in four large corporations paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2005, the last year for which data are available. Sixty years ago corporate taxes accounted for 1/3 of federal tax revenues compared to only 1/10 today. And tax rates on the wealthy have been greatly reduced over the same time.

This totally unacceptable state of affairs results from the huge sums of money entering politics through campaign finance and lobbying, primarily from large corporations and the wealthy. It is essentially legalized corruption.

Could the reasons for the lack of media attention to this situation have anything to do with the fact that the great bulk of the mass media in our nation— e.g. television, cable and radio outlets, internet services, magazines, newspapers– are owned by a small number of giant corporations, which themselves are major players in the big money game? They use campaign donations and armies of lobbyists to obtain government policies favorable to their business interests.

Apparently media companies don’t want to call attention to the system of legalized bribery that allows them to profit and dominate their industry, despite the fact that it is their duty to report something that so threatens our democracy.

It’s all about making money, then using it to buy politicians and make yet more. Meanwhile, millions of Americans quietly struggle to make ends meet and sustain a minimal quality of life.

To begin restoring democracy we need to completely overhaul campaign finance and institute public financing of elections. Ask your representatives to take a stand on the issue of money in politics.

This Story is a Re-post from Reader Supported News (RSN) with permission of the author.

Ten Brief Arguments for AMEND and REFORM

By Susannah Newman    (posted by administrator)


Recent SCOTUS decisions:

In 2010, Citizens United equated money with free speech under the 1st Amendment and restated in stronger terms that a corporation is the same as a natural born person with regard to campaign spending. A few months later, the Speech Now decision created the SuperPAC and this year the McCutcheon decision removed aggregate contribution limits by an individual from campaign finance laws. Finally, with the Hobby Lobby decision, SCOTUS has conferred corporate religious rights for bosses over the rights of employees.

Ten Brief arguments against these decisions to be taken together, in combination or separately:

The problem of money in politics can only be fixed by grassroots pressure on politicians to pass 1) a constitutional amendment, which will lay the path for 2) unchallengeable campaign finance reforms. 87%-90% of voters across the spectrum agree that overturning the above decisions is A MUST.

Big money has become deafening and drowns out the voices of the ordinary citizen, whose single vote cannot compete with the voting power given to the billionaire or the large corporation or unions through unlimited campaign donations.

A Constitutional Amendment giving Congress the power to limit election spending will RESTORE the 1st Amendment by amplifying the voices of ordinary citizens to a more equitable level; i.e. government by the people, not by the money. With such an amendment in place, necessary campaign finance reform laws, such as the Government by the People Act and the DISCLOSE Act) will be safe from a SCOTUS challenge.

While corporations are composed of people, they are NOT, in fact, people, but LEGAL ENTITIES created by the state. Nowhere in the Constitution is the word “corporation” even mentioned. (The founding fathers’ fear of corporate and moneyed power is well documented.) Today corporations are global and through these recent SCOTUS decisions, foreign interests can influence elections and therefore policy.

Who has more access to a congressional office: the one who gave $300,000 or the one who gave $30 to the campaign? Unfortunately, candidates must now go after the big money: one $100,000 donation is easier to get than ten thousand $10 donations. Good public servants are made complicit in this corrupting system.

For example, why is it that 90% of the American people want background checks on gun ownership, but Congress has NOT passed any common sense legislation to control gun violence? FOLLOW THE MONEY and its accompanying OVERT POLITICAL INTIMIDATION.

The greatest fear that any candidate has is that just before the election, some anonymously funded SuperPAC will drop $1 million in ads, etc… against him/her. To become insulated from this tactic, BIG MONEY donors are sought who, in turn, insist the candidate agree with the donors’ politics. This is a corrupting reality.

In 2012, 132 Americans funded 60% of SuperPAC money. By 2014, that number will represent only .01% of America, which clearly makes our governmental system no longer a representative democracy. Our current Congress is not dependent “on the People alone”, but on the Funders. This is corruption. Not bribery, but corruption. We need only look to the days of the Robber Barons to know how money in politics corrupts and, sadly, destroys lives.

While there is rarely actual, legally verifiable, quid pro quo corruption (politicians and plutocrats are too careful for that), evidence of implied corruption and policy-by-money is seen by voters all over the country. This has contributed to unparalleled cynicism and distrust of government; BIG MONEY is responsible for this.

Time is running out. We are quickly becoming a plutocracy and losing our democracy. Power now comes from money and public policy is driven by corporate interests over the long-term best interests of the People. We must AMEND the CONSTITUTION and then REFORM CAMPAIGN FINANCE.