SEATTLE COMMUNITY FORUM ON NATIONAL & LOCAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORMS

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here b/c I’m building northwestalternativemedia.com/moneyoutofpolitics all by my lonesome and it’s taking way longer than I had hoped. Feel free to visit that site as I get it up and running, however starting at 11am if all goes well, I’ll be streaming this event here and on northwestalternativemedia.com. If it doesn’t work, try and catch it on Periscope under shawnsporter

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Main Campaign Issues: Getting Big Money Out of Politics

New post for new wing of site, Bernie Sanders Fights

Bernie Sanders Fights

Via berniesanders.com

Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government. Oil companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, Wall Street bankers and other powerful special interests have poured money into our political system for years. In 2010, a bad situation turned worse. In a 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials. The Supreme Court essentially declared that corporations have the same rights as natural-born human beings.

Our democracy is under fierce attack. Billionaire families are now able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the candidates of their choice. These people own most of the economy. Now they want to own our government as well. The Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, plan to spend some $900 million in the coming 2016…

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Two Paths and a Pitfall in the Citizens United Fight

Via: Seattle Weekly.

Late last month, campaign-finance-reform activists got some good news when a bill calling for a constitutional convention was assured consideration in the House State Government Committee in Olympia. The aim of the convention would be to propose “a free and fair elections amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment would nullify the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which lifted all restrictions on independent corporate-funded advocacy regarding elections. But there is a long way to go before that happens. What is the path forward, and what are the pitfalls?

The Convention: Article V of the Constitution provides two paths to an amendment. One is through the will of the U.S. Congress. The other—currently being pushed by a national activist group called Wolf PAC—goes through the states and requires two-thirds of their legislatures to request a constitutional convention. Such bills have been passed in four states—Vermont, California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Washington, some activists hope, will be next. So once every week, a few Wolf PAC volunteers spend the day at the capitol attempting to build support for the bill. “Right now it’s stuck in committee and there’s no motion likely until 2016,” says Washington’s Wolf PAC leader Jeff Eidsness. “So what we need to do is inoculate as many people as we can against all the fears.”

The Runaway Convention: State Senator Jamie Pedersen is no enemy of campaign-finance reform, having endorsed several attempted measures in the past. But the 43rd District democrat believes a constitutional convention could cause trouble. “I think if you open up the Constitution, you could potentially have a convention that would make much more dramatic changes to [it],” he says. “Would we ban flag-burning? Would we be doing something about personhood beginning at conception? I don’t know what things might be in there. There are a lot of pieces of the Constitution that are very protective of minority rights or the right of the accused that aren’t necessarily popular.”

The Congressional Amendment: Eidsness says the “runaway convention” is a “myth,” but he wouldn’t mind avoiding the whole affair either. Drawing on history, he explains how the threat of a convention can be enough to exact change. “With the 17th amendment, they were two states away from actually having a convention, at which point Congress is like, ‘Yeah, we better do this’ because they want the credit,” he says. “I don’t think a convention is going to happen, but we need to ask for it. The convention is not the goal, the amendment is the goal . . . History shows us that calling for a convention is the only legitimate way that people who aren’t arbitrarily wealthy can influence Congress to do the will of the people.”

City Council’s O’Brien on quest for campaign finance reform

screenshotofmikeo'brien

Upon entering Seattle City Hall, self-relocated council member Mike O’Brien has opted to give up his comfy office appointed to city council members. Instead, O’Brien re-organized the office in order to allow himself closer proximity to his aids and constituents.

The move personifies O’Brien. His boyish, short to mid-length haircut sprinkled with gray adds to his casual blazer and overall laid back demeanor.

O’Brien first ran for a place in office at the start of 2010, raising what he thought was an ample $140,000.

“It turns out that it’s kind of one of the lower amounts in recent years for a winning candidate to raise,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien started his career as a  community leader at the Sierra Club for over 9 years of voluntary work with the club before becoming the chair of its Washington state chapter.

Elected to city council in 2010, his laid back demeanor has allowed him to be passionate about his work without coming off as hot headed or otherwise unlikely to compromise. During his first term in city council, he pushed for and won many progressive measures with environmental benefits, including a popular grocery shopping bag ban.

O’Brien ran a grassroots campaign in his successful bid for city council. Largely run by volunteers, O’Brien became known for his ragged personal style, plastered onto him like a Seattleite badge of honor.

O’Brien spoke of an ethical conflict he, as a campaign finance reform advocate, experienced while running for office.

“Asking the very same people who have important policy with financial implications before the council to write a check to my campaign just creates a glaring conflict of interest,” said O’Brien. “How far do you compromise your values when you accept money from people whose values differ from you?”

O’Brien keeps fighting for campaign finance reform, and remains confident in his chances despite the council’s choice to not even hear the debate on public financing of political campaigns when O’Brien attempted to introduce talks last year.

However, O’Brien believes the time is right and is optimistic that the city council will be more open to the proposition on his upcoming attempt.

O’Brien believes Tim Burgess and the other members of the council who didn’t back his last public campaign finance proposal are more likely to accept his proposal now that the threat of a crowded ballot is no longer a legitimate.

During O’Brien’s last attempt there were several issues on the ballot, including one concerning a preschool initiative that was before voters in November. A crowded ballot is what Burgess was worried would happen by having the two initiatives, both concerning finance, on the ballot at the same time. Burgess was concerned this would create confusion or hurt the chances of the preschool initiative passing. Although now with the preschool initiative passed and out of the way, it would no longer pose a problem.

“I have some optimism that we can get another shot at it” finished O’Brien.

 

Siberian Craters, Climate Change, and Hard Headed Republicans

Seeing as so many Republicans are  going on with  the idea that climate change is a hoax put on by the Obama administration in order to allow the raising of taxes on the fuel industry among others, I am really starting to wonder just how far the Republicans are willing to take it.

Now we have these Siberian craters which many experts think are due to melting permafrost in the region. This phenomenon is another example of how climate change is increasing its impact on our planet everyday.

Where are these companies looking to operate as they bring the world down around them? How long will Republicans listen to these companies and their financial incentives/contributions before the contributions are outweighed by what many scientists view as a catastrophe too far along to fully bring to a halt.

Can’t get gay married in your state? Become a Corporation!

Catherine Rampell of the Washington post published a great opinion piece you can find here. In the article Rampell wonders how things would look if we could practice some of the rights being exercised by corporations in regard to their privileged presence in our political system.

the sentiment from  Adam Winkler via Rampell’s article, is that if regular Joe’s were treated like corporations then we’d be able to merge with whomever we want without being stopped by restrictive marriage laws.

It makes sense, but I would be fine with more regulation against potential monopolies in our economic system if the Supreme Court doesn’t want to expand corporations current right to normal people!

Maybe calling it merging is all the LGBT movement needed to do all along! Should regular citizens  be able to get off with a fine for killing someone? Corporations do.

Would the supreme court see an argument like this as a valid attempt at testing the reverse engineering potential of the Citizens United decision? Would they really entertain such thoughts? I would think not, because the inconsistencies would be much more highlighted then they already are.

Now that corporations are people with extra awesome rights, maybe the courts should start ironing it out towards the old school citizens of this country instead of the ones our forefathers warned us about.