Campaign Finance Reform

I am one of just two candidates who are running a grass-roots campaign. The other is Ryan Farrar. A grass-roots campaign means that:

  1. We do not accept donations over $200
  2. We do not accept donations from corporate pacs
  3. We do not accept donations from special interest groups

Additionally, I have not held, fee-for-entry or pay-at-the-door fundraisers. Finally, I have made infrequent solicitations for contributions and limited those to Facebook pages of like-minded organizations, such as We the People Pledge, of which I am a member.

We have been waiting decades for meaningful campaign finance reform. We cannot any longer. Voters and Candidates have the power to make all the changes we need, today. Here’s how:

  1. Voters should only consider voting for grass-roots candidates,
  2. We need voters to volunteer for grass-roots candidates,
  3. Voters should scrutinize the FEC reports of candidates at propublica.org and opensecrets.org, as well as on FEC.gov
  4. Voters should aggressively share this information with everyone as often as possible
  5. Voters and candidates should reach out to candidates and ask them to not take donations
  6. Endorsement organizations should prioritize grass-roots candidates
  7. Voters should shun endorsements from organizations who charge and endorsement fee or who marginalize grass-roots candidates

These are just some ideas. There are probably more things we can do. The important thing is that we stop waiting for change and make it happen ourselves! This article has some good points:

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/5/7/17325486/citizens-united-money-politics-dark-money-vouchers-primaries

Much of the debate around reform has focused on how much people can donate. From OpenSecrets.org:

“The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission helped unleash unprecedented amounts of outside spending in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. The case, along with other legal developments, spawned the creation of super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporate and union treasuries, as well as from individuals; these groups spent more than $800 million in the 2012 election cycle. It also triggered a boom in political activity by tax-exempt “dark money” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors. You can listen to the decision (see “Opinion Announcement – January 21, 2010″) as read by Justice Kennedy and the dissenting opinion read by Justice Stevens. Read on to learn more about how the Supreme Court transformed the campaign finance landscape with this decision, and how it is now affecting U.S. politics.”

Mr. McDermott is benefitting from a Colorado based Super-Pac who is spending over $500,000 for his campaign. McDermott appreciates the help! We clearly cannot rely on him for fixing Washington.

Since the supreme court sees corporations as people and money as speech, we may want to consider the other side of the coin – laws that limit how much a candidate can accept and who they can accept it from. This would not directly limit speech. Campaign contribution laws that do not limit the amount of a donation might not be fair under the 14th Amendment. Legal wrangling about reform could go on forever, and that’s why we need to prioritize and organize around this issue in our districts. This is a strong bi-partisan issue and nearly 90% of Americans want Citizens United overturned. So, a bipartisan effort to demand grass-roots campaigns may be effective. Shaming candidates for shady campaign financing may also help.

Should lobbyists be allowed to run for public office?

I do not think that lobbyists should be able to run for public office, however, it may be unconstitutional to bar anyone lobbyists from running for public office. I also support laws which bar elected officials from becoming lobbyists within ten years after leaving any State or Federal office or appointment and five years for any Federal or State department executive level position. I am for lobbying reform. Lobbyists and campaign finance are interrelated problems. The website, www.OpenSecrets.org writes:

“…lobbyists pursue relationships with lawmakers in order to shape legislation so that it benefits clients … On the other hand, lobbyists are frequently targeted by lawmakers as sources of campaign money, which the lobbyists feel beholden to give to improve their clients’ prospects of success.”

All Americans should have equal access to their representatives, however, lobbyists have more access based on their ability to pay for expensive campaign fundraiser dinners, for example. We need regulations and transparency to prevent and discourage unfair influence.

Historically, US Congresspersons do not represent the needs and wants of the constituents very well, usually supporting 30% of less of the bills they would like. The current slate of candidates is not much different. They take large donations; they are for the status quo and said they would govern like Pete Visclosky. Many voters in NWI probably do not know how much Pete Visclosky worked with lobbyists at the expense of voters. One convicted lobbyist said that Visclosky’s aide offered earmarks for donations, and a government ethics watchdog named Visclosky one of the most corrupt politicians in Congress.

Campaign Finance:
A Short History

Political Campaigns: Crash Course Government and Politics #39

What’s the Big Deal About Campaign Financing?

Understand Campaign Finance Law in 8 Minutes

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