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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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    Fundraising by Members of the House of Representatives

    Here at CleanSlateNow.org, we are now tracking the fundraising of all Members of Congress, including their reliance on special interest group money to support their candidacy, as well as how much of their funds come from small, individual donors. 

    We will soon also begin reporting on their support for or opposition to reforms.

    If we are missing information on any of the candidates, and you can help find a public statement by any of the candidates, please email us a link at info@cleanslatenow.org.

    These results reflect the reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and made publicly available as of July 22, 2015.

    Here are the current members of the House of Representatives listed by state and then alphabetically:

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    PACs, Super PACs, and Presidential Candidates

    As of July 14, 2015, 489 candidates filed a Statement of Candidacy (FEC Form 2) to run for President of the United States in 2016.  Here at CleanSlateNow.org, we are now tracking every major candidate, especially their reliance on special interest group money to support their candidacy - both from organizations giving to their official campaign committees and through donations to any affiliated Super PACs.  

    We are also tracking their statements on campaign finance issues, including about the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, but only where we can document and link to a published report of the statement or the candidate's own website.  If we are missing information on any of the candidates, and you can help find a public statement by any of the candidates, please email us a link at info@cleanslatenow.org.  

    Here are the major candidates listed in a random order:

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    How Special Interests Buy Influence

    PACs, Super PACs, and Dark Money: these are three of the primary tools used by self-interested individuals and groups to buy access, influence, and ultimately results in our political process. 

    Do you know what these terms mean?  Most people do not, but understanding them is key to understanding how to fix the corruption in our political process.  Below is our summary and a graphic we created to illustrate the key parts of this information. 

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    PAC Money and the Colorado Legislature

    After countless volunteer and staff hours, Clean Slate Now has finally been able to complete our initial analysis of special interest group contributions to the state legislators here in Colorado.

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    Feb 2015 Clean Slate Now Analysis of PAC Money in Congress

    Last year, we published our first look at how much Members of Congress rely on contributions from political action committees (PACs) to fund their campaigns.  Now that the final campaign finance reports from Congress are available from the most recent election cycle, we can provide an update.  These new data suggest some important lessons to be learned by groups working to reduce sources of campaign finance corruption.  

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    The Politics of Engagement

    This past weekend, I spoke with a woman who runs her company's PAC.  She works at a renewable energy company in Colorado.  Clearly, she was already convinced that being involved in politics was worthwhile, but she surprised me by expressing concern about the issue of money in politics.  After all, she was the organizer of her company's PAC.

    Fortunately, I had the opportunity to explain our perspective from Clean Slate Now - that candidates should fund their campaigns through the support of thousands of small donations from regular people, and not rely on special interest group lobbyists and their PACs.  I added that PACs can actually help make that happen.

    Most people don't realize it, but PACs actually have two ways they can help support candidates.  The most common approach, which I think needs to be abolished, is to take money from people, put it into the PAC bank account, and decide for their donors how to use that money.  This gives the lobbyist for the special interest group and the PAC staff control over a pool of money, and thus the ability to give more money to their favorite candidates.  Lobbyists can not only give a maximum of $5200 to a Member of Congress directly, but can also direct another $15,000 to nearly any Member of Congress ($10,000 to their campaign and $5,000 to their leadership PAC).  And this does not even include the unlimited amounts they can spend through a Super PAC.  The system works in a similar way at the state level, depending on the state's laws.

    This form of PAC giving provides a relatively limited number of political insiders (especially lobbyists) far more influence than the average person, not to mention creating a huge conflict of interest when the lobbyists come back asking for a meeting or a vote.

    This approach also takes the original donor to the PAC out of the equation, and does little to encourage their further engagement in politics.  When you give to a PAC, you give up the ability to control how those funds are spent.  You give the PAC director and/or lobbyists control over that money.  You may also not know until after the election which candidates received the money, and which did not.

    The other way PACs can help candidates raise money is to encourage people to give as individuals, including by processing the transaction and sending the money to the campaign.  Because you direct the money to a specific candidate, this form of contribution actually counts as part of your personal contribution limit, instead of the PAC's limit.  You also can then choose which candidates you want to support, and which you do not.  This approach also encourages you to do more than donate.  When you have to make the decision about each candidate, you learn something about them.  You are now empowered both to give your time and to encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to give as well.

    PACs have the potential to engage people more in the political process - but most PACs rely on making those decisions for you.

    The politics of engagement helps us better understand our society, our government, and the policies being discussed by our politicians.  It makes us part of the process of decision making, and as a result inspires us to be part of the conversation.

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