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    Spotlight on: Guns and Campaign Money

    The national debate on regulation of guns in America has reignited in Washington, DC recently.  According to polls conducted for years by Gallup, Americans have long been divided on whether or not gun regulations should be made more strict.  
    Gallup_on_Guns.jpg
    While general questions about gun regulations tend to show a divide in America, some specific policies are widely supported.  For example, Gallup found last October that 86% of Americans favor universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states.  Other polls have found similarly high support for universal background checks over the past several years.  (Under current law, background checks are required for sales by federally licensed gun dealers.  However, background checks are not required for gun sales by private sellers.)

    Despite this broad support, votes to require universal background checks have repeatedly failed in Congress over the past few years. (To be clear, CleanSlateNow.org does not have a position as an organization on the regulation of guns).

    As one can easily imagine, millions of dollars have been spent in the last few years by groups on both sides of the debate over universal background checks and other changes to the law.

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    Denver Democracy for the People Initiative

    CleanSlateNow.org has partnered with several other groups in the Denver area (Colorado Common Cause, Colorado Public Interest Research Group, Colorado Ethics Watch, Denver League of Women Voters, and the Metro Denver Chapter of Represent.Us).  We are working to put a measure on the November 2016 ballot in Denver to change the way campaigns are funded in City of Denver elections.  Below is the summary language that will appear on the ballot (the ballot title) and full ordinance text:

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    Special Interest Money Is Growing

    As we highlight in the materials in our Clean Election Toolkit, special interest groups utilize PACs, Super PACs, and Dark Money spending to buy influence in politics.  Here at CleanSlateNow.org, we have been tracking the money into these groups and how they are used to fund, support, or oppose candidates across the country.  

    Thanks to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, we can now track money flowing through PACs, Super PACs, and Dark Money groups dating back to 2010, the year the Supreme Court opened the door to Super PAC and Dark Money groups with their ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

    Below are some highlights from what we found:

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    Clean Election Toolkit for Volunteers

    The contribution and coordination rules at the federal level are difficult even for candidates to understand.  Each of the 50 states has a different set of rules for campaign fundraising and spending, as well as independent expenditure reporting.  Our Clean Election Toolkit distills all of that complexity down to a few simple realities about campaigns in American:

    1. Self-interested, special interest donors give money to candidates to influence policy for their benefit, not for the benefit of the overall community.

    2. Those donations are not just impacting one issue - they are having an impact across the country, on a broad range of key issues.

    3. This problem isn't going to go away on its own.  In fact, it's getting worse.  But there are solutions available.

    Take a look at the materials we've created to help clear up the confusion, or you can click here to sign up as a volunteer and request a Clean Election Toolkit. While you could print these documents at home, we offer Clean Election Toolkits because the quality of the materials and printing we can send to you is generally much better than what most people can print at home.

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    Jon Oliver Summarizes What's Wrong with Congressional Fundraising

    Ever wonder why so many Members of Congress are happy to take PAC money?

    Jon Oliver explains...

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    Presidential Campaign Fundraising Update

    Last week, we updated you on the amount of special interest political action committee (PAC) money that has already been donated to current members of the House of Representatives.  This week, we focus on campaign spending in the Presidential race among the remaining six major party candidates (there are over 150 candidates who officials file reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC)).  

    For this analysis, we report on two different ways to impact campaigns: (1) direct contributions to each of the candidates' campaigns and (2) independent expenditures made by Super PACs and other special interest groups.

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    Update on PAC $ Contributions to US House Members

    Congress_Capitol_Bldg_Clean.gifTwo years ago, we started tracking how much Members of Congress rely on contributions from special interest group political action committees (PACs) to fund their campaigns.  Our first report two years ago focused on how much money each member of Congress (at that time) had taken over the course of their entire career.  Last year, our analysis focused on Members of Congress and the 2014 election cycle.  This year, our analysis focuses on the first half of the 2016 Election Cycle.

    If you want to find your own Representative's fundraising totals, click here, where you can also find your Representative and contact them.

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    Famous Quotes on Politics

    Here are some famous quotes and slogans on the importance of politics, including money in politics issues:

     

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    2015 State Campaign Finance Legislation

    The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks all legislation in state legislatures throughout the country, including on campaign finance issues.  According to this database, there have been 787 bills proposed across the 50 states, and 95 of those have been enacted.

    Legislatures have adjourned in 43 states, and remain in session in 7 states as of this analysis.

    For detailed information about the bills that have passed, click on the state, which will take you to the legislature's website where you can search the bill code for detailed information.

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    Current Legislation in Congress on Campaign Finance 8-27-15

    Below are the bills and proposed Constitutional amendments filed so far in the 114th Congress (as of 8-27-2015), along with summary information about the status of each.  They are sorted by the number of cosponsors, as this is an indication of the likelihood that the bill or amendment might pass.  So far, none of the bills or proposed amendments has been approved by either chamber of Congress.  There have been 34 bills proposed so far and 13 proposes amendments to the Constitution.

    Additional information about each proposed bill or amendment, including summaries and the actual text, can be found at thomas.loc.gov.

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