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
Board Chair, Free Speech for People
Author, Corporations Are Not People
Associate Professor, Fordham Law School
Author, Corruption in America
Commissioner, Federal Election Commission
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 http://www.brennancenter.org/event/state-money-politics#RSVP
If you have any questions, please contact Brennan Center Events Manager, Jafreen Uddin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.292.8345.
After three years of the NJOCU coalition actively pursuing an amendment-to-overturn, We Finally Have a FULL SENATE VOTE SCHEDULED for MONDAY, 9/8! It is a vote on cloture, i.e. to close debate on S.J.Res.19. It is not yet the vote to pass the amendment proposal. But the cloture vote is significant (particular in this era of fillibusters in the Senate). We see a vote for cloture as a show of support for the amendment outlined in S.J.Res.19. Once debate ends, the actual bill may be voted on.
Despite broad voter approval of an amendment to overturn Citizens United, the two-party system has managed to divide on this bill. Democrats are running on the issue in November, while Republicans with a pro-money faction led by Senator McConnell are fretting over the implications. In this case, we have to side with Democrats. SJR-19 is a narrowly written and very reasonable amendment proposal that enables Congress to regulate its own elections and thereby limit the corrupting influence of money in politics. This is a reinforcement of Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. While the amendment could have done more than that, its sponsors decided to proceed with care. There is plenty of room for bipartisan support of SJR19.
SIGN THE PETITION in support of SJR19 to amend the constitution: http://tinyurl.com/m9856ow
Acknowledging the partisan politics, we would hope to see ALL Senate Democrats vote YES for cloture on S.J.Res.19 on 9/8. NJOCU gives a hat-tip to Sen. Menendez (202-224-4744) and Sen. Booker (202-224-3224) who have already cosponsored this bill. We encourage you to thank them by phone or by email. We also suggest that you call the remaining 5 Democratic Senators who have not yet gone on the record and ask for their support in some form. Or call a friend in that state and ask them to get involved. Some senate offices will accept input honestly presented as coming from a national constituency. As a member/supporter of any national pro-amendment organization such as Public Citizen, Common Cause, Free Speech for People, People for the American Way, Rootstrikers or Wolf-PAC you have many voters in every state standing behind you. Here are the non-sponsoring Democrats:
Pryor, Mark L. – (D – AR)
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Donnelly, Joe – (D – IN)
720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Landrieu, Mary L. – (D – LA)
703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Kaine, Tim – (D – VA)
388 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Warner, Mark R. – (D – VA)
475 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
For Democrats not ready to co-sponsor – fine. Ask them to commit to voting for cloture and then for the bill. Remind them: You can’t stand for the little guy, as Democrats claim to do, if you can’t even run without the big guy’s money. And we all know how that works. End the arms race of money. Many voters also see the gridlocked Congress as a product of dark money-driven, fear-based negative advertising. And even while the ads assassinate character and work the wedge issues, the parties are amazingly indistinguishable where moneyed interests are concerned.
For Republicans, the arguments are remarkably similar. Four quick points:
1) 80-90% of all voters want ALL the money out of politics
2) Small businesses want Citizens United overturned a disagree with money in politics almost 9-to-1
3) Congress’s do-nothing reputation is a direct result of the interference of BIG MONEY IN POLITICS
4) Most young voters, women and people of color believe the system is rigged against them, in large measure because they see how money corrupts the debate. They want an amendment and reforms.
McCain, John – (R – AZ)
241 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)
709 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Kirk, Mark – (R – IL)
524 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Paul, Rand – (R – KY)
124 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME)
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Heller, Dean – (R – NV)
324 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Coburn, Tom – (R – OK)
172 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Portman, Rob – (R – OH)
448 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH)
144 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Republicans voters support reform. Perhaps you’re one of them. While some Republican members of Congress stand with their constituency on this issue, many seem better schooled in excuses for why addressing the problem should not be attempted. A common narrative is that NOTHING will work. Without ANY political leadership, they have a point (albeit a circular one). Another argument is that we should wiggle and squiggle a partial fix into place. Some of these ideas are remarkable good, but without an amendment to the constitution, new campaign reforms may be undermined with the next court case. Stranger things have (already) happened. WE MUST BOTH AMEND AND REFORM.
It’s okay to call on Monday. We want a Thunderclap of activity to hit senate offices on the 8th. Join the Thunderclap: http://bit.ly/1tOvyY0
Trans-partisan Opposition to Citizens United
Everyone needs to understand that ALL other issues are being held hostage this issue, BY BIG MONEY. Good governance is nearly impossible. Voters have no confidence that their voices can be heard over the media volume of big money flooding elections at every level. Each Senator needs to stand up and be counted on the right side of this issue and of history. And all of our congress people need to stand with ordinary citizens, not with big money, to ensure a functioning democracy and free speech for ALL.
S.J.Res.19 and H.J.Res 119 (full text):
If you live in New Jersey,
SIGN OURPETITION supporting SJR19 to amend the constitution: http://tinyurl.com/m9856ow
WHEVER YOU LIVE
Several national groups have started new SJR-19-specific petitions. We suggest you sign any and all. Here’s one at CREDO Action:
The Daily Kos gives some background on its petition and that of other groups as well, showing that several groups are working together.
Here’s the Daily Kos petition.
Susannah Newman contributed significantly to this article.