Media

Gordon Miller and Friends on KPFA

KPFA_logo.jpggordon_miller_photo.jpgGordon is interviewed by KPFA on March 26, 2015 about our MoneyOutPeopleIn rally in Walnut Creek on to call for an Executive order requiring all government contractors to disclose political contributions.  The rally was held on April 2nd, 2014.  The KPFA program can be heard here.  The interview starts 48:17 into the program. 

KPFA sent a reporter who filed a report on the rally.  The program can be heard here.  The report starts at 3:40 into the program.

 

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 September 21, 2015

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Activists demand campaign contribution limits 5 years after Citizens United decision 

 By Bay City News

Mourning for democracy

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown San Francisco Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on election campaigns.

Protesters from numerous organizations gathered on Market Street near the Montgomery station Wednesday afternoon carrying signs, singing songs and chanting in an effort to raise awareness about the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission ruling and express their desire to see it overturned.

People marched with signs that read "corporations are not people" and "money is not speech."

According to Eddie Kurtz, the executive director of the California-based non-profit Courage Campaign, "We demand that Prop 49 be put back on the ballot in 2016. California voters deserve the right to formally weigh in on the most vital political issue of our time."

Kurtz said Prop 49 would give California voters a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling.

 

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News article appearing in the Enquirer student newspaper of Diablo Valley College on March 17, 2014

Younger generation needs to be educated in money and politics

Jay Costa, Program Director at Maplight, explains how his website helps to provide transperency in campaign contributions. Costa was one of several speakers at a panel discussion concerning Money, Power, and Politics in the U.S. on March 13, 2014.

Regina Ortanez, Arts & features editor
March 17, 2014

A panel discussion on campus aimed to educate the younger generation on the influence of money in politics.

“Money, Power and Politics in the USA” was presented by ASDVC, Project Censored and the Money Out! People In! Coalition.

California state senator Mark DeSaulnier was present among the speakers on the panel which included Jay Costa, program director at Maplight.org, ASDVC President Sam Park and Dr. Jeremy Cloward, professor of political science here at DVC. Mickey Huff, DVC professor of history and social science and Director of Project Censored, moderated the discussion, as well as the Q-and-A afterwards.

The event began with a TED Talk video of Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor, titled “We the People and the Republic We Must Reclaim.” Like many others featured in TED Talk videos, Lessig was persuasive his speech, which had to do with the necessity and importance of transparency within the government.

More specifically, transparency especially concerning campaign contributions given by corporations and the role that private interests play in influencing the government decision making.

Jay Costa presented a PowerPoint showing the extent of that influence using Prop 37, an initiative that failed to pass during the 2012 election season, as an example. According to Costa’s PowerPoint, the initiative, if passed, would have mandated labeling for genetically engineered foods, but had failed mostly due to the immense amount of funding the “No to Prop 37″ received from the Monsanto corporation.

Following that, Park gave a powerful speech concerning the young generation and our desperate need to be “reordering priorities.”

According to Park’s speech, two-thirds of the U.S. can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice, yet everyone seems to be attuned the latest antics of Miley Cyrus or some other trivial celebrity gossip-related news.

Professor Cloward followed with a serious talk on the impact of the healthcare industry, the myth of universal healthcare and the danger of health insurance lobbyists.

Afterwards, Sen. DeSaulnier spoke in support of providing transparency, but was quickly bombarded with questions after his speech by political activists who attended the event. Fortunately for him, a number of his supporters in attendance were quick to jump to his defense.

The event commenced with more Q-and-A, which reverted back to the original issues concerning “Money, Power and Politics,” but not without a healthy amount of debate between Professor Cloward and the senator, who were both candidates running in opposition to each other for the U.S. House of Representatives for California’s 10th congressional district back in 2009.

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MtA_banner.jpgKRON TV NEWS report about a coalition demonstration in San Ramon, CA on May 29, 2013 against Chevron Corp. practices of making huge political contributions to exert undue influence on elections and public policy.  (Click on photo)

 

 

 

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Editorial in The Independent about the Money in Politics Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters - Livermore / Amador Valley

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 12:00 am

Campaign FundingBy Janet ArmantroutThe Independent

“Money Out, People In," a grassroots coalition, plans to educate the public and officials concerning the importance of removing big money influence from politics.

Goals include changing the rules with regard to financing, greater transparency as to who the funders are, and a Constitutional amendment to change the Supreme Court ruling that money is considered free speech.

The Livermore-Amador League of Women Voters has joined the nonpartisan coalition.

At a recent forum, hosted by the League, it was noted that federal and state elected officials spend 30 to 70 percent of their time raising money. One speaker quoted statistics showing that only .01% of the people donate $10,000 or more to campaigns. The same speaker stated that as a result Congress has developed a dependency on these funders for their seats, not the people.

The speaker concluded that a larger number of funders would spread out the influence. The proposed US Fair Elections Act would allow candidates to run for office on a blend of small contributions from individuals and limited public funds.

There are websites that track political funding and the voting records of those who receive money such as MapLight, a non-partisan, non-profit web organization, which links political candidates and ballot measures to their funding sources. Another, http://votersedge.org provides information on finances for a candidate or issue.

Several measures are being considered in California that would provide greater transparency, including listing top funding sources and clear disclosure of the major contributors.

The "Money Out, People In" coalition is going about reform in the right way, working on making changes from the bottom up. It should be an effort supported by both the left and the right, returning the U.S. republic to a representative democracy with the people having the ultimate control.

 

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Top Story in Independent News about LWV Forum -

Coalition to Work to Change How Political Campaigns Are Financed

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:00 am

A new coalition called, "Money Out, People In" aims to take big money out of politics.

The coalition of nonpartisan groups has launched a grassroots effort. It would include educating the public and elected officials about the importance of removing big money influence. That would happen through education, a change in campaign financing rules, and a Constitutional amendment.

One of the coalition members, the Livermore-Amador League of Women Voters (LWV), presented a forum on the subject last week at the Livermore Library.

The local LWV followed the lead of the California LWV in adopting campaign finance reform as one of its priorities.

A video of legal scholar Lawrence Lessig speaking at a TED gathering was shown at the beginning of the LWV forum. In the video, Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, asserts that there is a "corruption at the heart of American politics caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens."

He continued, "The U.S. is a Republic with a representative democracy with the people having the ultimate control. However, Congress has developed a dependency on the funders for their seats, not the people. So long as funders are not the people, it is corruption. This dependency creates an economy of influence that feeds on polarization and dysfunction.

In the video he described two elections that he says are held each year in the U.S. One is the general election, in which citizens vote. However, to win in the general election, politicians must first do well in the "money election," supported by huge donations from a small percentage of people. He cited statistics showing that only .01% of the people donate $10,000 or more to campaigns.

Lessig stated, elected officials spend 30 to 70 percent of their time raising money. The question arises, "What is the impact that the need for money to continue to hold onto a seat has on what they do."Lessig noted that there is a tendency to ignore the problem, because it is seen as impossible to solve. "We cannot ignore it any more. We need a government that works for citizens on the left and right." Lessig said none of the issues supported by either the left or the right will be solved until the problem of influence is fixed. "We cannot afford a future with no sensible reform."

He stated what is needed is a larger number of funders. That would spread out the influence. The proposed US Fair Elections Act provides a way to make that happen. Lessig stated, "We would all lose something we love if we lose this republic. We have to act to get it back."

There are already websites that track political funding and the voting records of those who receive money. One, MapLight, is a non-partisan, non-profit web organization that links political candidates and ballot measures to their funding sources.

Jay Costa, program manager of MapLight, addressed the forum. MapLights' research, Costa says, demonstrates the increasing estrangement of non-wealthy individuals from the political process.

For example, a search for money related to the vote to bail out the banks found that those who voted "yes" received 54% more in contributions from financial institutes.

To provide further details on campaign contributions, Costa said a new site http://votersedge.org has been developed. The goal is to create even more transparency when it comes to campaign financing. "People need to know where the money comes from."

California's website Cal-Access is difficult to maneuver, he continued. Votersedge provides a quicker way to find information. For example, Cal-Access takes 14 clicks to obtain the data for one committee. If there were eight committees formed for one issue or candidate, that requires 112 clicks to find the money. The recent ballot measure, Proposition 30, listed 33 committees, resulting in 462 clicks to trace the funds. On votersedge, only one click is required.

The site also "cleans-up" entries, tracking different ways a business might be represented. For example ,one company appeared as Kellogg and Kelloggs. A search interface on votersedge makes it possible to search for any donor and receive an answer immediately for all state races and ballot measures, as well as Congressional races across the country.

There are rules that politicians and committees are required to follow. Stacy Owens, a principal at the campaign watchdog Henry Levy Law Group, urged people to learn where money comes from in support of a candidate or issue.

She said that as contribution limits given directly to a candidate are lowered, third party spending is increasing. That is the most difficult to regulate, since the Supreme Court ruled that money is considered free speech.

Owens pointed out that at the federal level, independent expenditures do not have to disclose donors. At the state level, the top donors have to be disclosed.

Sheilah Fisk, the coalition chairperson, declared that the group believes that the root of the problem in government is money. Congressman spend 50 percent of their time dialing for dollars.

Eloise Hamann, LWV, said that projects that the LWV believes will help reduce huge donations, include seeking constitutional amendments declaring corporations are not people and money is not free speech. "It is not enough to reverse the Citizens United ruling," she stated.

A member of the public stated, "There is no magic bullet to get money out of politics." He suggested asking candidates their view of public campaign financing.

Listed were several bills supported by the coalition that would provide greater transparency, as well as change how campaigns could be financed. They include the following:

US Fair Elections Now Act - Senate Bill 750, HR 1404: The Fair Elections Now Act would allow candidates to run for office on a blend of small contributions from individuals and limited public funds.

Candidates would qualify by raising a certain number of contributions of $100 or less from individuals in their home state. They would then receive a grant of Fair Elections funds for the primary and general election, and could continue raising unlimited small contributions. Each additional $1 raised would be matched by $4 from a new Fair Elections Fund, ensuring that candidates who use the system could compete even against well-financed opponents.

California Sunshine Act - Senate Bill 2: Require clear disclosure as to who is paying for recommendations on often deceptive slate mailers.

CA Senate Bill 27: Require “Multi-purpose” (like 501c4) organizations to report contributions received and made so that the funds can be traced to their original sources. Require disclosure on web sites for public access and on the ballot pamphlet

CA Senate Bill 52: Require disclosure of the top 3 original funding sources of all political ads, in all media, clearly and prominently on the ads themselves. Require disclosure on sham issue and issue advocacy ads that attempt to influence legislative or administrative action. Require campaign committees to maintain websites where the top 10 funding sources are listed.

For information on the coalition go to moneyoutpeoplein.nationbuilder.com

 

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