June, 2014 Survey of Priorities

Just over a year ago, I joined Clean Slate Now.  I have been committed to the cause of helping candidates who do the right thing and turn down special interest group campaign contributions, after I saw first hand -- as a candidate -- how corrupted our system has become.

I believe in democracy, and I'm sure you do, too.

That is how I want Clean Slate Now to work, as well, democratically.

Can you take our survey and let us know what you think Clean Slate Now's priorities should be?

Click here to take our survey

Thank you in advance for your feedback and your help.

Mark

Mark Mehringer
Executive Director
www.CleanSlateNow.org

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from McCutcheon

A lot of deserved attention has been paid to the recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission from last month.  I have been following the discussion closely, and wanted to report to you a summary as it relates to our cause.

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Click here to contribute to CleanSlateNow.org as we 
advocate
 
for candidates who refuse this money.

First, the good news - and yes, there is some.  There were three opinions written by Supreme Court Justices.  Two opinions (the plurality opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts and the dissenting opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer) had the combined support of eight justices.  

Both of those opinions noted support for the precedent that Congress "may regulate campaign contributions to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption."

Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented with the view that Congress can regulate campaign contributions.

Where the court is split is on the definition of corruption.

This leaves to door open, then, for the Supreme Court to reverse itself on the McCutcheon case.  In future cases, the court will be able to judge the impact of their decision based on real world impacts, not expectations or theoretical impacts.

The bad news, as you have likely heard, is that a slim majority of the court (five of nine) ruled the overall limit on contributions as unconstitutional.  For the plurality opinion, that is based on the view that Congress may only regular quid pro quo corruption. 

Apparently four Justices feel general forms of corruption are Constitutionally protected.


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Our latest brochure

We just updated our brochure and wanted to make it available on our website for anyone to share with friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone else you think might be interesting in cleaning the corrupting influence of special interest group money in politics.

Click here to download a PDF of our latest brochure.

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Clean Candidates Party 2 - State and Local Candidates

Earlier this week we let you know about several candidates who are running for Congress and swearing off special interest political action committee (PAC) money in the process.  Few candidates, though, get their political start by running for federal office.

In the wake of announcing our Clean Campaign Agreement, we have heard from many state and local candidates throughout the country.  We are confident that this list does not come close to covering all candidates out there, so please be sure to spread the word with any candidates you know.

Here are our latest state and local Clean Candidates:

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Clean Candidates - Part 1

From our first days, Clean Slate Now has touted the brave souls who have taken the road less traveled of refusing special interest money.  That's what we are all about - advocating for candidates who say No to special interest money.  Today, I am excited to announce that the idea of running a clean campaign is catching on. 

In the past few weeks, we have come across many more candidates willing to do the right thing, from across the political spectrum and throughout the country.  This seems like a good time, then, to update you on and introduce you to those candidates.

We are entering a critical phase for the election cycle, and we need your help.

We need to let voters know that more and more candidates are refusing special interest group money.

Can you donate or volunteer to help us spread the word?

Here are the candidates running for federal offices who are turning down special interest money.  (Later this week, we will tell you about the state and local candidates).

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Clean Campaign Agreement

What we are asking is simple - for candidates and elected officials to turn down special interest group money and instead run clean campaigns, free of the corrupting influence of that money.

Here is the agreement we ask candidates to sign and live up to:

Clean Campaign Agreement

 

If you need help finding out who your elected officials are or how to reach them, you can find that out by entering in your nine digit zip code at VoteSmart.org. (If you don’t know your nine digit zip code,you can find it here).

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Memorial for Senator Ken Gordon

The Colorado Senate & House of Representatives are scheduled to consider a Joint Memorial honoring Senator and CleanSlateNow.org founder Ken Gordon on Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Current and former Senate and House members will convene on the Senate Floor and share their remembrances of Ken. 

Location:     Capitol Building; House gallery (third floor)

Address:      200 East Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203

Date:            Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time:

  • 8:45 a.m.  Guests to be seated in the House gallery (third floor).
  • 9:00 a.m.  Remembrances from current and former Senate and House members.

You are welcome to attend and we hope to generate a standing-room-only crowd in the Senate gallery that morning.

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What angers you most about Congress...

Responses from our readers:

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"That our representatives all recognize that special interest money dominates the decision process, yet to not have the courage to change this"

 

"I am angered by the total disregard for basic courtesy - the lack of civility - the "my way or the highway" by foes of Obama - the failure to remember the struggle for Civil Rights and the willingness to take us back to a time when they didn't exist at all - I could go on but I think that is enough!"

 

"Unwillingness to find common ground and solutions to our countries problems"

 

"the political mess is because of the financial mess. we need to get big money out of politics. we need to get big money out of politics"

 

"The democratic system has been corrupted by money and greed. The corruption has gotten so intense that a "science" of gerrymandering has evolved which allows representatives to pick and choose the electorate that they represent, thereby ensuring constant re-election. I'm also annoyed by two other issues: Congress did not attempt to slash its own salaries and benefits when balancing the budget, causing other federal workers to bear the brunt of Congress's fiscal ineptitude; and, that the representatives most heard from are the extremists. The democratic system has been corrupted by money and greed. The corruption has gotten so intense that a "science" of gerrymandering has evolved which allows representatives to pick and choose the electorate that they represent, thereby ensuring constant re-election. I'm also annoyed by two other issues: Congress did not attempt to slash its own salaries and benefits when balancing the budget, causing other federal workers to bear the brunt of Congress's fiscal ineptitude; and, that the representatives most heard from are the extremists.

In short, I am angered by gerrymandering, fiscal irresponsibility, and the lack of voice of the moderates."

 

"The Congress just seems out of touch with real people -- with me. I know that's a generality, but it's come to the place that I sometimes even wonder if it matters whether I vote (and I remind myself that it does matter!). Bottom line: Because I don't have access to the kind of money it takes to "grease the wheels" and garner the ears and attention of Washington power players (like a lobbyist or other deep-pocket entity does), I don't think anyone in Congress cares about what I think or want."

 

"-There should be a prison full of people culpable for the last financial crisis, instead we get corporate paid fines essentially with the public’s own money?
-No regulations and break-ups have happened for remedies for future financial crisis
-Rather than moving forward to on outcome based fixes to our healthcare system, we are tied up debating repealing the first step
-Corporations are not people, nor should the opinion of a rich man have more weight in our political process than anyone else
-Take money out of politics in is it is possible
-Focus on infrastructure, education at all levels including trades
-Create living wage and promote it globally
-Work on global tax code and pollution regulations on multi-national companies
-Stop policing world in as possible"

 

"-What angers me most about the United States Congress is it's utter disregard of basic, non-Keynesian economics!!!"

 

"Deceptive Bill Titles. Wonderful sound bite; devil in the details"

 

"Hard to put to words. Certainly the wealth barrier for individual members of congress is frustrating. I hate the fact that Congressmen campaign on an emotional level even in off years. I'll give it some more thought"

 

"Perhaps what needs to change most is the toxic flood of lies which seems to have overwhelmed the nation, making the wrong people angry for the wrong reasons - wrong because false. Yet, convincing people that they have been duped is one of the most difficult objectives to accomplish"

 

"The power Wall Street and Insurance industry to sell us the idea that 401-K were a wonderful way to save for retirement and that mandatory insurance would help us all.
Wrong wrong wrong on all accounts. We have to buy insurance that is over costly and then loss it when you actually use it. How pathetic when they pay their CEO’s millions and billions of dollars but find ways to actually screw the policy holders. There should be a law that 80 to 90 percent of all premiums have to remain for claims with 10 to 20 percent only allowed for administrative oversight.

Same with Wall Street and 401-k funds – never ever should people have to lose money due to excessive executive pay and bonuses. People should invest locally not wal street as too many take away from the average citizen. Enron should have been a wake up call as well as the bailouts.

I am sick sick sick of partisan politics and sound bites of passing laws like Obama Care that have huge unintended consequences on the average Jo and sold on a few sound bites. And the few good stories that rarely make up for the millions of those harmed by the unintended consequences.
We give Wal-Mart huge tax breaks instead of making them pay their fair share of taxes and provided loop holes and then cannot afford to help college Kids with cheap loans. Instead we allow Discover and Wells Fargo and other big banks to lobby for them to do loans to students and they charge a small fortune for the loans.

Too many politicians rely of the wrong people for advise and control who testify to make the record they want not the real record on what is going on."

 

"The influence of money in our political system has grown steadily in my lifetime. Clearly, the trend should be in the other direction. Most of our politicians are basically bought and paid for by corporate interests. They spend most of their time fundraising to stay in office, rather than working through the vital interests of the public, which is obscene! Democracy? One Citizen- One Vote?: Both dead. Rich corporations have a huge megaphone to peddle their agenda to the misinformed (through a politically oriented media system that is also bought and paid for).
One example is the fracking issue; which is touted as a means to create jobs while increasing our energy security; a true "Win-Win" if you believe their messages. What's not reported are: It will ruin ground water supplies forever in most places where it is practised; it will pump more carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating climate change; and it further puts off the day when we move to renewable energy sources. Many innovators in the U.S. are working to create renewable energy sources, and foster energy conservation, but we don't have the money to buy lobbyists in order to drown the public airwaves with our alternative message.
This is just one issue where money in politics skewers the truth; there are many, many other issues that are being obfuscated by those who have bought and paid for our current political system."

 

"That so many are unwilling to work at compromise to get things done. That they are only concerned about getting re-elected and not governing for the best for the country. It's amazing to me that people are so short sighted and selfish.
That "liberal" has become a bad word!"

 

"Congress pretends to be democratic despite the gerrymandering of its districts"

 

"What angers me most about the current U.S. Congress is the dysfunction and lack of priority. The main functions of the United States Congress is to provide for the Common Defense and the General Welfare of the American people first and foremost, and I feel that Congress has its priorities wrong at this time"

 

"Religious dogma and self righteousness"

 

"Remember the bumper sticker seen in the nineties-"Vote Republican-it's easier than thinking"? I think this sums it up very well"

 

"My top concern is that there seems to no longer be any shame on the part of freshmen Congress members (as well as some long-term Congress members too) about their lack of accomplishment. It's as if they take pride in slowing down, obstructing and/or completely dismantling any attempt at rational government. To me this indicates a criminal attitude that is in direct opposition to the very role of Congress as defined by the Constitution -- in short, they should be impeached for malfeasance of office"

 

"It angers me that Congress cannot get ANYTHING done. Even if they did something that I disagreed with, at least it would be something. I'm hesitantly hopeful that the newest budget work is a step toward movement. But crossing their arms across their chests, stomping their feet and pouting screaming, "No no no!" is just ridiculous"

 

"They have not repealed lying Obamacare"

 

"They don't work in my best interest. The big money does the talking"

 

"Their complete lack of gravitas"

 

"Their inability to work together. This stems from excessive ideological positions which cause ideologues to become demagogues in practice"

 

"My concern is that the Republican party allows a small but vocal minority to control Congress and jeopardize the nation's economy. Mainstream Republicans need to step up and show some moral courage or they will send the party the way of Whigs and No-Nothings.

Democrats need to show support for the President and speak out for the ACA rather than allow its critics to dominate the media"

 

"What angers me most is related to the inability to compromise in Congress over tax and spend issues. To refuse to compromise, repeatedly and over broad issues, is inherently undemocratic. It presumes that one idea can be the only one to be advanced, regardless of the stance of others, a thought antithetical to democracy. Its single-mindedness is a close cousin of tyranny"

 

"My vote is the failure to rein in and regulate financial industry after 2008-2009 fiasco. Should have nationalized rating agency functions. Restored Glass Steagall in full. Backed out commodity futures modernization act. Eliminated all derivative betting with possible exception for limited hedging when proven interest in the hedge can be documented such as currency exchange rates. Not paid AIG claims on contracts without proven financial interest except possible partial return of premium. Regulation of bonuses paid. And criminal prosecution of many as was done for S&L fraud"

 

"It's largely controlled by angry, old, rich white men who
want to control the lives of everyone else who is not
an angry, old, rich white man"

 

"1. This is the most unproductive congress in United States history. The majority party (GOP) was hijacked by a group of ultra-right conservative nut jobs whose only goal was to completely obstruct the government. Congratulations, they succeeded.

2. The house of representatives does not accurately represent the population from the states they were elected. Through the process of gerrymandering, the republican state governments have seen to it that there is an over-representation of republicans.

3. The unwillingness to bring to the house floor, bills that are widely popular among the people, house representatives and were passed by the senate by a wide majority (including republicans).


What needs to be fixed?

1. Districts should be drawn using simple geometric shapes, not tailor-made to over represent any given party. The ratio of democrats to republicans in the house of representatives from a given state should approximate the numbers from their state.

2. Members of congress need not agree on all topics, but they should be willing to negotiate with opposing views to come together to form agreements, govern and do the job they were elected by the people they are supposed to represent.

3. Members of congress are elected by people, the people from the states they represent. They are not supposed to represent corporations, billionaires, or political organizations. They should try to find out how the majority of people from the districts they represent feel about issues, and vote accordingly, even if that means voting against their own personal views."

 

"They don’t get their work done"

 

"1. Republican scorched-earth obstructionism; at the expense of millions of Americans.

2. The control over congress by big money. Lobbying; revolving door politicians/lobbyists.

3. Making rules for the country, then exempting themselves. (“Some pigs are more equal than others.” Animal House)"

 

"What angers me the most is the lack of representation I have in Congress. Congressional members represent themselves. They represent the special interest groups that buy them and finance their re-election. They don’t represent the people who voted them into office."

 

"What angers me most is that the Tea Party is the Tail that Wags the Dog for the Republicans and they have only one goal, to try to ruin our President because he is black. They will do anything to try to hurt him while they are hurting our whole Country. They have no concern for the poor or homeless or elderly or children, and care only about their wealthy contributors and the big corporations. It is SO sad to think of what they have prevented for all of us. If only more Democrats would be less apathetic and get out and vote. Thanks for all you do. We need a lot more Ken Gordon's and Bernie Sanders', and Elizabeth Warren's and Alan Grayson's in Congress"

 

"Greed…the greed of the bazillionaire right wingers and "centrists" in Congress and the shadowy, soul-less hulks for whom they toil"

 

"Inability to compromise"

 

"I am most angry that our elected representatives in Congress (both houses) won't govern. Senators use filibusters and holds to stop the legislative process. And the House of Representatives rarely even attempts to legislate. It is a travesty of a legislative body.

Too many members of Congress would rather shut down the government than run the government. Making political points with their support groups is more important to them than representing the people who live in their districts. I intend to vote against each of the incumbents whose names will appear on the ballot in my area"

 

"lawmakers care much more about getting re-elected than they care about doing good things for their constituents. They puts politics before people. I think we should senate and house of rep terms both six years with a one-term limit"

 

"In general, they are clearly part of the elite & don't represent the people. Elections have become a sham & it is a myth that we the people have influenced their behavior in any major way. They are controlled by their desire for money & power (i.e. ego). They are able to legalize bribery when it is them receiving the bribes, determine their own incomes & give themselves the best healthcare & retirement package"

 

"They are criminals - and get a free pass or a slap on the wrist when they get caught. If I were arrested for possession of cocaine, or misappropriated company funds not only would I serve time, I would also lose my professional license. Yet the people who are supposed to be governing us get a pass. They should be held to the highest standard, not use their position as a get-out-of-jail-free card"

 

"The Tea Party and John Boehner. Both are cruel and arrogant in their obstruction of immigration reform, the ACA, and women’s rights"

 

"Out of touch with the real world"

 

"The leftist Democrats"

 

"From the beginning of his administration, in my opinion the Republican s have exhibited racism"

 

"The political gamesmanship. The Tea party folks taking a position of "NO" on almost everything. That and the inability to come up with meaningful Immigration Reform. Everyone says we need it, but no one seems to get anything done about it. In the mean time thousands of families are torn apart every year"

 

"obstructionists and lack of civility and communication just saying no if it comes from the other party
lack of any real compromise due to lack of exploring any shared values which leads to laws/regulations that everyone hates sense of non accomplishment and kicking can down the road
but then the corporations are the ones who actually are in charge due to their ability to influence the legislators with money"

 

"Thank you for asking.

1. I am angry that Congress doesn't seem to act in the best interests of the people.

2. I am angry that Congress is filled with millionaires who don't seem to understand the problems of those of us who are just making it.

3. I am angry that Congress allows jobs to be outsourced.

4. I am angry that Congress is bought off by special and moneyed interests.

5. I am angry that Congress allows privatization of government services -- allowing corporations to make a gazillion dollars at the expense of American taxpayers. I think we should not be asked to pay millions in private corporate CEO salaries.

6. I am really angry that Congress and the government have allowed corporations so much leeway that even those that are making billions don't have to pay any taxes.

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Our two U.S. senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, are the two biggest wimps on the face of the planet. They need to be replaced by fighters who will go to bat for the people of the state."

 

"It is the fact that money, not voters, provides the access to and meaningful communication with the members of Congress. And that gives us the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, …"

 

"What angers me most is that they are more concerned with getting re-elected than in governing the country. They all seem to forget that although they were elected to represent a district or state, they also represent the people of that state and the nation. They appear to lack the will to sit down and solve the important problems facing our nation. They seem to only hear the loud fringe and the big corporations - not the people"

 

"The lack of getting things done, and even having a vote on bills"

 

"What angers me most is the liberals efforts to destroy not only the traditions of this country but the Constitution that has made this the greatest country in the history of man. The second is that the Republicans talk about small govt. and limited spending etc and then don't have the balls or the conviction to stand up against Obama and defund Obamacare completely. It appears the Republicans are just putting up a smoke screen and secretly are in favor of the same un/anti American agenda as the commie libs"

 

"If they are determined to sell their souls, why not sell them for good education, free healthcare, jobs for all, food for the hungry, and for Peace? Instead they sell out for more war machines, more drone killings, more money for the 1%, for free stuff for themselves (most are 1% ers themselves), more pollution, more chemicals, more GMO's, more excuses for doing nothing for the 98% of Americans.
I'm sick to death of them all!"

 

"Their giving corporations tax breaks, loopholes. These corporations have huge profits and don't need the money. The 98% of Americans do--for jobs, benefits, infrastructure, good schools for all, etc."

 

"1. Ideology trumps good sense and what is good for the country. This is primarily a Tea Party affliction, where making the entire country fail so that Obama will be blamed is the priority over desperately needed legislation.
2. Money trumps everything. Since money is now not just property but also has the ability to speak, a rich person’s dollar has a megaphone; dollars from the rest of us have laryngitis."

 

"What angers me most is that we no longer have a truly representative congress. They do not answer to their voters but respond to their biggest donors. Instead of spending their time working for the good of the country, they spend most of their time trying to get re-elected, talking with donors and campaign people."

 

"The fact that Democrats can't stick together like the R's. The fact that Dems aren't creative enough. For example, they should be focusing on getting 4 or 5 families out of each of the Tea Party districts who have benefited from the ACA and make their Representative eat crow. They should be hounding the districts of every R who voted to shut down the government by finding people in their districts who suffered as a result. Shame! Shame!. They should be making their constituents aware of the impact of the "Stand your Ground" laws and how ALEC is responsible. Most of all they should get some gump and stand tall against the R's games."

 

"They are the "do nothing useful" Congress, especially the House, run by a
dictator who answers only to the Koch brothers.
The house has votes over 40 times to undo a VERY popular law, giving
millions of Americans health care for the first time in their lives in some
cases.
No matter what the President wants, they are against it, even if it was
their idea in the first place.
They refuse to pass immigration reform.
They are against a lot, but "for" nothing"

 

"Just finished reading Mark Twain's first novel, "The Gilded Age." Not a very
good novel--but an excellent expose of graft, corruption, vote buying....
So what's changed now? The methods may be a little more sophisticated but
the result is the same: Money rules politics, one's voice is as loud as the
designated amount on the check. Yes! This is infuriating"

 

"Several things anger me about the U.S. Congress: Their inability to get anything done, the number of days they're actually in session, and their excessive salaries. It's no wonder they want to make a career out of being a Congress person or a Senator. It's time for Congress to have term limits! We're certainly not getting what we're paying for and I feel like they don't have our best interests at heart"

 

"What upsets me most about the congress is the people wailing about a 'do-nothing' congress. The Republicans who won the majority in the House in 2012 were put in place precisely for the purpose of blocking the far-left agenda of many Democrats.

Second, while the House has consistently fulfilled its legal obligation to produce a budget every year, in the Senate, Harry Reid has refused to allow these budgets even the courtesy of open debate! And then he blames the House for being 'uncooperative'!

Ken, if you ever hope for my support, put a stop to these "you have to pass the bill to see what's in it." votes. I don't like gun control measures that only control honest citizens and I think the ACA was VERY badly written. You guys need to do your job better."

 

"The commitment of Republicans in both chambers to obstruct every legislative action President Obama supports--particularly when the President's agenda conflicts with the interests of their major donors"

 

"Our representatives are supposed to be our voice in Congress and act in our interest, but then—on issues that have strong majorities either supporting or opposing them—they will still vote or act in a contrary manner. This is what angers me most about Congress"

 

"Where to begin?
Their corruption, obviously being in the pockets of corporations and doing their bidding, their complete lack of regard for the struggles of the common man, their willful ignorance of the pressing economic and environmental challenges we face, and these are just THE DEMOCRATS I'm talking about here.
The Republicans for their snide and cynical treatment of the poor, breast-beating about abortion and gay rights while claiming to love SMALL GOVERNMENT, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Never in my life have I been as disillusioned with our political process, and as depressed and disheartened about our future. We are well and truly screwed, even if the Democrats make gains in the House and manage to hang on to the Senate and the White House, because those Democrats will be spineless cowards, answerable only to their corporate masters."

 

"Forgetfulness...and lack of respect for their constituents...they have
forgotten how to compromise to be effective leaders...with few exceptions
their concern for re-election trumps all other possibilities for
problem-solving and taking action that does not merely reflect the corporate
interests who have "bought" them"

 

"Congress is focused on what is best for him or her, the Congressperson. The idea of service isn't present anymore, and certainly isn't acted upon. They don't try to solve problems, but try to position their response so that they personally will be safe. If that hurts the country, so be it.

I suppose there was some rationale there, "If I can't keep my seat, I can't do anything for the country." But it's become _only_ about keeping the seat. The country always takes low priority compared to the so-called public servant's personal priority. It's a club and they want to stay in it as long as they can, without doing the job they were hired to do. "

 

"The fact that our liberties are slowly eroding while the filthy rich continue to prosper on the backs of the rest of the working poor"

 

"Congress does NOT serve the American Public, only self interest corporations and groups. Congress does NOT earn their pay. They leave town, refusing to pass bills that are essential to creating jobs and improving the economy. Congress members ONLY serve their base, rather than compromising and serving the American public. Congress votes themselves pay raises, more vacation time, more retirement and health benefits. Congress only looks out for themselves, rather than the American public.

Citizens United MUST be repealed or our democracy is dead."

 

"Would it be a ridiculous oversimplification to say REBULICANS? Okay, I'll be more specific: Obsessed, dogmatic, insane (not in touch with reality), obstructionist, greedy, selfish, cruel, racist, inhumane, extreme right-wing-Christian-conservative-Republican-anti-intellectual nuts. That's a start"

 

"I am most angry at the system of electing members that means candidates are involved in a contest of who can raise the most money. This is not fair to voters or the candidates. I am asked to donate to state house and senate candidates, the county, state and national democratic party, and school board candidates in addition to congressional candidates. I can't begin to donate significant amounts to everyone I would like to see elected. The candidates should not have to participate in a system that they have to raise enormous amounts of money to get elected"

 

"Lies, that are rarely if ever called out, let alone prosecuted; politicians make statements that are patently false and rarely are they challenged, let alone reprimanded or censured, but when someone like Congressman Joe Wilson calls out such a lie he is the one reprimanded; Congress condemns truth and rewards liars. Bill Clinton perjured himself in his testimony before the US Senate; any body else would have been arrested, indicted and imprisoned for it, but Willie is free.

Nuance, which is nothing more than lies dressed up to cast doubt on the obvious and make the ridiculous seem plausible.
“Jobs created or saved” -- There is NO such metric for Jobs Saved, hence another damned lie told by damned liars.
“We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” – How incredibly stupid must one be to believe this is reasonable?
“Tax & spending cuts” that do nothing to actually reduce taxes or spending, only to slow the rate of their increases.

Hypocrisy, on all levels and in all matters, such as providing waivers to “universal health care” – if there are waivers, then it is not universal, but it is crony capitalism. And instead of increasing the ranks of the insured, the Orwellian named “ACA” has actually caused millions of people to lose their insurance, and forced many others to pay for coverage they do not need or want! And in the deceitful attempt to justify this mandatory insanity, those politicians who support the ACA now refer to those lost policies as “sub-standard” when in fact they suited their clients needs perfectly; such politicians are despicable scum.
Why should a post-menopausal woman and a man with a vasectomy have to pay for maternity coverage? Failure to compel such couples to pay for maternity coverage is the ACA fans’ idea of a “sub-standard” policy, and it is asinine.
Who are these arrogant SOBs to tell consumers what products are acceptable and which are not, and WHY is government involved in insurance at all? Furthermore, anyone who has paid a modicum of attention to this whole debacle knows damned-well that the liars’ goal is a Single Payer system, with government in control of the whole mess. The English language lacks the polite words needed to describe what I think of those politicians & justices guilty of passing & defending this trash law.

Corruption, crony capitalism, squandering taxpayers’ money on chronic green energy failures – Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Beacon Power, Ener1, the foreign-owned Fisker automotive, wind farms, ad nauseam, and then equating the return on conventional energy subsidies to green energy subsidies while concealing green energy’s carbon footprint, actual pollution/toxins, and true costs that green energy imposes on consumers and taxpayers. Lies of omission are still lies.
"Crony capitalism" -- it is a form of corporatism, AKA: Corporate Fascism, or simply Fascism. This is not just an opinion. Take it from the father of Fascism, Benito Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

Spending money we do not have. Everyone should be angered by Harry Reid’s refusal to even debate annual budget proposals and bring them to the floor for a vote, let alone actually pass a budget bill. Reid should be dragged away in chains, along with all of his enablers.

Stupidity, and arrogant, narrow-minded zealotry of insisting on spending trillions of taxpayer dollars in the absurd attempt to combat the specter of “global warming” (global cooling or climate change, or whatever the duplicitous hucksters are calling it this week) only to maybe affect the climate by about half of one degree over the next two decades. For this some Congressmen are eager to destroy our economy. Never mind that countries including China and Poland reject the IPCC’s claims and will continue to to what they deem is in the best interests of their people, even if it means growing their so-called “carbon footprint” larger than that of Al.Gore. (See: Hypocrisy, above.)

Failures, that are funded forever. Congress never eliminates bad ideas, programs, departments or agencies, even when the government’s own auditors assign them a failing grade. If you need sources and a list of failures just let me know.

Rights, such as the second amendment have been the law of the land for 224 years, yet as Congress constantly revisits and passes ever more legislation infringing on that explicit Right, some politicians also make absurd claims arguing that things such as health care and free condoms are also rights – they absolutely and unequivocally are NOT. None of the rights explicitly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights imposes a cost on anyone. Those so-called "rights" proposed by the Left amount to the advocacy of slavery; a “right” to housing, minimum wages, health insurance, health care, birth control, food, ad nauseam, all cost something and impose obligations on the life, liberty and property of someone else to provide them. (Bastiat called it “Plunder.”)

Disregard for the Constitution and oath of office. Both Houses of Congress constantly meddle in matters far beyond the Constitutional duties of the federal government while neglecting the very things to which that very Constitution obligates them. Politicians are NOT elected to office to act as our bankers and lenders, nor as doctors and surgeons, or insurance brokers, venture capitalists or investment advisers, and not even as educators! Why does anyone think these things are the role of politicians or government in the first place? The Constitution indeed is an imperfect document, it lacks an Article declaring such excesses, failures, abridgements and infringements to be treated as capitol crimes.

Gross Criminal Negligence and wanton disregard for human life demonstrated by Fast & Furious and Benghazi at the hands of this administration, and the sheer insanity of giving military aid and weaponry to Mid-East regimes whose stated goal is the destruction of the West and Israel, policies Obama and his administration still support and defend. The idiot POTUS and the traitorous “Hanoi John” Kerry still insist polite conversation will dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons – “naïve” does not begin to describe their level of suicidal stupidity. Additionally, no one died as a result of Watergate yet president Nixon was forced to resign for eavesdropping on one hotel, but today we still have a cabinet of lying murderers and incompetent fools running the country who eavesdrop on the entire nation with impunity.

Those reasons are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
You know I’m no advocate for anarchy, but I do find it harder and harder to argue against it."

 

"That none of the elected officials are doing the job that they took an oath to do. We need to dump them all and start all over again. It can be done if the people stand together"

 

"Following the party line without thinking about what's best for the country; thinking of their own political and monetary careers before 'the people'; not getting out here and truly understanding what people are going through (think Undercover Boss)."

 

"No one is doing anything and everyone is making their own rules and regulations!"

 

"Actually many are working hard, and many are obstructing progress. Know the difference, the throw them all out crowd is actually a front for the very one's doing the least.... Politically it is there only chance and they know it."

 

"That they no longer care about or serve the best interest of their citizens or country. Instead they serve the wealthy and corporate interests who have purchased them."

 

"None of them are performing the checks and balances. There was a reason the Senate was chosen by the states. Changing that rule has isolated too much power in Washington."

 

"they have sold our us, the environment and our future to greed. they don't give a damn about the wild horses and burros, or public land. They are simply put, evil greedy pawns of the wealthy and huge business. Sold out to big oil, Monsanto, pharmaceutical industry, and GMO crap. I have nothing but contempt for congress and the President. Both parties suckl"

 

"Money has purchased 80% percent of the congressmen. Rich people have too much money and want to control our country. Rich should be taxed to 70%"

 

"We are asked to write our congressmen and women about the things we think are important. What I get back is a form letter telling me all the wonderful things they are doing for the state and country. After passing only 55 bills this year, do they really think I'm stupid enough to believe that??"

 

"they haven't done anything about jobs -- they haven't stopped jobs from going overseas either"

 

"their support of weapons production, unending war, being cop of the world, more that one term..."

 

"Their blatant bigotry and misogyny - - pure evilness on the right!"

 

"that American jobs are still going overseas... while so many Americans are unemployed / under-employed"

 

"No honor among them"

 

"What angers me is that people with lots of money can give so much money to buy or influence politicians. Politicians should get just so much money in a salary and no more. They become detached from the people they are supposed to serve."

 

"The way that Big Corporations and Big Money in general have been able to buy control of our government. The fact that they have likely bribed they way onto the Board which are supposed to be regulating them. Being retired physician, I am particularly angry with the total dysfunctionality of the Fed. Drug Admin. They are completely sold out to the drug companies and there is no meaningful regulation. They not only stacked the Agency with "their" boys, but totally underfund it The same is true with the Environmental Protection and on and on"

 

"There are so many things that anger me, it would have been almost impossible to keep the answer short and sweet"

 

"Politicians who put their personal ambition and career above policymaking.
Machinations of political parties. Greed."

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People are starting to notice

When I first ran for the state legislature in 1992, I found that people from across the political spectrum appreciated and supported a candidate who did not take campaign money from special interests buying influence.  It has, however, been hard to convince other candidates to turn down this money.  Most candidates come from somewhere within the political insider class, and in that group, money buying influence is just how the game is played.

Congress_cash.jpg

However, support for the proposition that turning down special interest campaign money can be a plus rather than a minus comes from two recent polls.

In a poll memo entitled, “Revolt Against Washington and Corrupted Politics.  New battleground survey shows how members championing change on money in politics gain an edge in anti-incumbent time,” Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that across 80 Congressional battleground districts there is substantial support for candidates who take a strong anti-money stance. 

Below are two quotes from the memo.

“This survey… shows that voters in both Democratic and Republican held seats embrace efforts to reduce money in politics and its influence: two thirds of voters in these districts support a plan to overhaul campaign spending by getting rid of big donations—half support such a plan strongly.”

“some of the strongest supporters [of reform] are swing voters—the ones both parties will target in their campaigns next fall.”

An article about the second poll is entitled, “Fighting corruption polls off the charts.”  

This poll finds, “that 90% of respondents said they’d support a law that imposes tough new campaign finance laws.  When “campaign finance” was changed to “corruption” that figure rose to 97%...  with 72% saying they would strongly support such laws. 

"There was essentially no partisan difference on the issue:  82% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans said reducing corruption is important.”

The purchase of excessive influence by campaign money has been the dark side of elections since elections began, however in recent years the amount of money has exploded.  Some apologists for our corrupting system say things like, “this is just the way it is,” as if the damage done to democracy is at an acceptable level, and in any case there is no way to change it. 

Neither of these points is true.  The damage done to democracy is profound and increasing and the people have it within their power to change this money dynamic with the simple use of an educated vote.

Waving_American_flag.jpg

These two new polls indicate that those elected officials who have cynically played the money game, thinking that the people would never look beyond their pretty television ads, may be about to pay a price for the damage they have done.

Help us elect candidates who don’t take this corrupting money by supporting CleanSlateNow.org today
.

Sincerely,

Ken Gordon

 

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"Shall not perish from the Earth"

November 19th is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln_Gettysburg_Address_end.jpg

“The 26th North Carolina, hailing from seven counties in the western part of the state, suffered 714 casualties out of 800 men during the Battle of Gettysburg.  The 24th Michigan squared off against the 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg and lost 362 out of 496 men." (Source: Civil War Trust)

Starvation, disease and exposure killed nearly 2500 American soldiers at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778.

Washington-at-ValleyForge_sm.jpg

At Omaha Beach during the Normandy landings in World War II German soldiers manned machine guns in concrete bunkers that were nearly impervious to the weapons that the Americans had with them that day.  Approximately 2500 American soldiers were killed as they struggled to get from their landing craft to the beach.

Democracy -- the sovereignty of the people -- did not just materialize on the North American continent.  It was created by people who knew the alternative, and were willing to sacrifice for it.

And yet most Americans have not paid any price for our form of government.  It has been handed to us, and many don't know its value.

Rome had a republic.  Athens had a democracy.  They were both lost. 

There is no guarantee that democracy will survive.  The key point in implementation of democracy is the election.  One would like to think that the people who are involved in that implementation -- the candidates, the campaign staff, the pollsters and consultants -- do so with a form of reverence for the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf. 

What would that look like?  Well, campaigns would be honest.  They would not try to portray their opponent as less deserving than she is.  Campaigns would honor merit.  They would not try to win an election solely by outspending the other side.  Campaigns would be informative.  They would proudly confront the issues of the day, and clearly state their positions on these issues. 

So are campaigns honest, reflective of a candidate’s merit and informative?  Well, no.  Of course they aren’t. 

Then I suppose one needs to ask, “Does this matter?

The answer is “yes.”  In fact YES!

Democracy can tolerate some dishonesty, some submission to money and some ignorance, but there is a limit, and we are at the limit.

Democracy needs a critical mass of people who respect it and believe in it for it to survive.

This isn't someone else's job.

We at CleanSlateNow.org area focused on the following problem.  Elections tend no longer to be about who is the most meritorious candidate.  They are about who has the most money for television ads.  


We get what we reward so we have a Congress that is made up of people who are good fundraisers.

Calltime.jpg
These good fundraisers in Congress know some things.  They know which interests and people have money.  They know what to say to them to get some of that money.  They know how to vote to get some more of that money for their reelection. 

So we attack the dysfunction at its weakest point.  We point out where candidates get their special interest money and we support candidates who have the courage to run without it.

Will you volunteer to help us support clean election candidates who make the sacrifice of turning down special interest PAC money, so that we can begin to resurrect and protect government of the people, by the people, for the people?

As always, please do not hesitate to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested or to write back with your comments.

Sincerely,

Ken Gordon

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Simple

  1. Congress is deeply dysfunctional.

  2. Congress is overwhelmingly controlled by wealthy interests who use campaign spending to work their will over the members.

  3. Congress makes national policy that is important to our lives, for instance health care, the environment, Social Security, Medicare, the economy, our jobs, our mortgages and our national defense.

  4. In virtually every area where Congress acts, we disapprove of their actions.

  5. Almost all of us are going to vote to reelect our member of Congress.

Does this suggest any solutions to you?  Let me know.

Cat_and_Dog_on_Congress.jpg


Sincerely,

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Democracy for sale?

  

Yesterday, the case of McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission was argued at the United States Supreme Court.  It is an important money in politics case so I will give a short and hopefully clear explanation of what is at stake.

Democracy is NOT for sale

The McCutcheon decision could open the gates to unlimited contributions. 

Congress should not be for sale! Clean Slate Now is working to get candidates that say NO to PAC money in office.

Tell Congress to say NO to PAC money now. Click here to make your voice heard!

There is currently a limit of $123,000 on what an individual can give to all candidates, parties and political action committees (PACs) combined in a Congressional election cycle of two years. McCutcheon, a businessman from Alabama, wants to give more.  He is arguing that this limit infringes on his right to speak freely, and is therefore a First Amendment violation.

Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 Supreme Court case, said that contribution limits are permissible because of the appearance or reality of corruption caused by donating directly to campaigns, but that campaign expenditure limits are not permissible because money is necessary and therefore the functional equivalent of speech.  So Buckley created this distinction between contributions and expenditures.  And that is what we have now.  An individual can only contribute $5200 directly to a federal candidate, but a campaign or individual can spend any amount of money on an election.

If the Supreme Court rules that aggregate contribution limits are also a violation of free speech, then all contribution limits could be invalidated, leading to even more corruption than we have now.   

Early reports indicate that Chief Justice Roberts’ questions indicate that he did not see the necessity of the aggregate limit.  If this limit is overturned, the new limit, which would be the sum of what could be contributed to every candidate, would be $3.5 million dollars.  Justice Alito said, “I don’t think $3.5 million dollars is a lot of money.”  It doesn’t look like he is going to vote to keep the limit. 

As in practically every Supreme Court decision these days, Justice Kennedy will probably be the deciding vote.

It is an indication of how far the Washington influence auction has gotten from the lives of ordinary people, when Justice Alito can say that  $3.5 million for a single contributor is not a lot of money.

Without an aggregate contribution limit, the individual limits would be a limit in name only.  Multimillionaires like McCutcheon could give directly to a campaign and then give to an unlimited number of PACs as well.

Our answer to the Supreme Court dismantling campaign finance restrictions in America is that we need to support candidates who rely on regular people, not special interests and their PACs, to fund their campaigns.

Last week we announced our petition calling on Congress to say NO to PAC money. Please sign our petition today if you haven't yet.

If you are among the many who have signed already,please ask your friends, family, neighbors, or even complete strangers to sign as well.

Sincerely,

 

Ken Gordon

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Pretending to be a Congressman

Last week I went to Washington, D.C. to meet with others who care about rescuing democracy from special interest money.  While there I thought I would register my opposition.  After all, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

At the Supreme Court I commented on Buckley v. Valeo (“money is speech”) 

Ken_at_SCOTUS_Money_is_not_speech.jpg


and Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission (non-human entities have individual rights).

Ken_at_SCOTUS_Corps_are_not_people.jpg


(The Court is having some work done so they currently have a fake facade.  This must be symbolic; perhaps a fake commitment to political equality.)

Then I pretended to be a member of Congress.

Ken_at_Congress_Will_pass_laws_for_money.jpg


On the plane back to Colorado I pondered what motivated people and organizations with billions of dollars to buy disproportionate political power.  They should be satisfied with an equal political voice--that being the quintessential American value.

This is what I came up with.  When you look beneath the higher functioning part of the brain, when you get to the primitive, non-verbal, instinctual level, you find in everyone fear—primal fear.  Fear of not having enough, fear of hunger, fear of loneliness, fear of death.  Some feel that they can make themselves safer by having power and money, as much power and money as possible.  We see this in tyrants, cutthroat business people and grasping politicians.  Underneath the limitless greed for wealth, power, position is fear.

This is the answer to a question that has puzzled me.  Why does someone work hard to get their second billion dollars?  The answer is because they are trying to fill a psychic hole to escape fear.  Money gives a short term feeling of having helped to fill the hole, but in the midterm and longer the satisfaction gotten from money is fleeting.  So there is an undiminished hole that still needs filling, hence the need for more money than anyone could ever spend.

Man_filled_with_gold.jpg


Others—again this is a subconscious attempt to feel secure—see that when you have more money and political power than others, you create envy and resentment.  To these people, and I am one of them, a society that has large and increasing disparities in wealth and power creates more insecurity, not more security.  We find more security in justice and equality than power and advantage.

Constitution.jpg


At one time the American consciousness had compromised the two methods of seeking security.  Our economic system fostered competitive striving for advantage and wealth, yet our political system honored the concept of equality in political voice.  Currently the competitive values of the economic system, aided and abetted by a questionably motivated Supreme Court, have come to dominate the political side as well.  The compromise that honored democracy is broken.

Congressional approval ratings hover in the high single digits (pretty much immediate family, staff and lobbyists).  This level of approval shows that people correctly see that Congress does not work for them, but for organized wealth. 

If we are to become a society with a functional government we need to restore the compromise.  The economy creates wealth by being motivated by competition and inequality, but our political system needs to honor the equal political worth of all citizens.

This is why CleanSlateNow exists. 

As always do not hesitate to write back with comments, reactions or questions.  Forward this to anyone you feel would be interested.

Sincerely,

Ken Gordon
http://www.cleanslatenow.org/

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Lamborn's Lenders - PAC Donors to Congressman Doug Lamborn

This is our fourth installment analyzing special interest political action committee (PAC) contributions to members of Congress.  We looked at PAC money given to Republicans Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner, and Democrat Diana DeGette.  Here we look at Republican Doug Lamborn.


 Doug_Lamborn_USA.jpg

Doug Lamborn – Strong Conservative

Doug Lamborn's district includes all of Chaffee, El Paso, Fremont, and Teller Counties. He sits on the Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Veterans Affairs committees, and chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.  His district is home to the Air Force Academy and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.  He was rated the most conservative member of Congress in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Lamborn's Top PACs

In his Congressional career, Lamborn has raised $1.4 million dollars from PACs – 52% of his campaign contributions.  His top 20 PAC donors are below.  His top four sectors for PAC receipts are leadership PACs, oil and gas companies, conservative and Republican issue PACs, and defense contractors.

Lamborn_Top_PACs.jpg

Lamborn's special interest money seems to be a story of likeminded groups supporting one of their own.

However, a closer look finds that Lamborn has a sweet tooth.

Sugar PACs

Sugar makes up 1.9% of the value of US agricultural production.  Yet the sugar industry spends 34% of the agricultural lobbying money, and makes 55% of agricultural PAC contributions.  

What do they get for this investment? 

Import quotas. The domestic sugar industry prevents American food manufacturers from buying less expensive foreign sugar.  As a result Americans spend 40% more for sugar than consumers in other countries. 

Conservative groups criticize this form of Big Government involvement in the market, likening it to communism.  As the CATO Institute puts it, "the sugar industry is operated in a Soviet Union style with detailed central planning from Washington."

So naturally we would expect a conservative member of Congress to oppose this special break for a particular industry at the expense of his constituents.

But this doesn't seem to be the case.

Doug_Lamborn_USA_USSR.jpg

Representative Lamborn has twice had the opportunity to vote against this “Soviet” sugar system.  Both times he voted for governmental interference with the free market: once in his first term in Congress when Democrats were in the majority and again earlier this year.

How much does it cost to have a staunch conservative vote for governmental interference with the free market?

$16,000 in campaign money.

Here are Lamborn’s sugar PAC receipts:

AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR $13,000
GREAT LAKES SUGARBEET GROWERS $1,000
WESTERN SUGAR COOPERATIVE $1,000
AMERICAN SUGARBEET GROWERS ASSN $500
FLORIDA SUGAR CANE LEAGUE $500

The sugar industry makes close to $2,000,000 in PAC contributions a year to Congress.  The economic benefit they get from this is about $2,000,000,000 per year.  So they make about a thousand dollars for every dollar they invest in Congress.  It is probably a better return than they would get on investing in capital or labor.

As always do not hesitate to write back with comments and questions, and please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

Sincerely, 

Ken Gordon

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Gardner's Givers

“The Colville River flows through much of the Brooks Range. Alaska’s largest Arctic River is home to 20 fish species. Known as an internationally-recognized area for nesting birds of prey, the Colville River’s bluffs provide significant nesting habitat for raptors such as Peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon and Golden Eagle.” - from On Arctic Ground

The river delta has been designated an “Aquatic Resource of National Importance.”

Colville-River-Alaska-1901-USGS.jpg
Inuit family on Colville River


One would have thought that this is one of the few places on Earth where other species might be safe from encroaching human development….and that would have been true except for the hundreds of millions of barrels of oil under the cold, sparsely-populated tundra.

Shift to Colorado.  In 2010 Cory Gardner was elected to Congress in Colorado’s 4th District -- the Eastern Plains.  One of the freshman’s first bills was HR 4480 which contains the following, “The designation by the Environmental Protection Agency of the Colville River Delta as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance shall have no force and effect.”

Why would a freshman Colorado Congressman wade into the battle between environmentalists and oil companies three thousand miles from his district?

Could it be because Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Anadarko, and British Petroleum are companies who own leases near the Colville River, and are financial backers of Cory Gardner’s political career.

Analyzing financial influence on Congress, we first looked at Coffman, then DeGette, and now Gardner.

In his Congressional career he has raised $1.9 million dollars from PACs – 38% of his campaign contributions.  Below is a list of the top 20 PAC givers to Gardner.

 

Garnder_Top_20_PACs.jpg

Even though Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is the only oil company that appears in his top 20 PAC givers, Gardner’s biggest industry contributor is “Oil and Gas” with contributions from individuals and PACs totaling $384,924 over his career.

Half of the bills he sponsored in his first term focused on oil and gas production.  Now one might think that this is not necessarily a response to the campaign money.  There is significant oil and gas production in Gardner’s district.  Perhaps he is looking out for the local interests of his constituents.

It doesn’t seem to be the case.  Let’s look at his proposed bills.

HR 2021 would restrict the ability of the Department of the Interior to regulate air quality impacted by drilling and exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  The OCS is American jurisdiction in the ocean.  You can draw a circle with a radius of 750 miles, the center of which is Representative Gardner’s home town, Yuma, Colorado and not include any of the OCS. (The Outer Continental Shelf is the cross hatched area in the map below.)


GardnerMap.jpg

HR 4480 contains numerous provisions unrelated to Colorado.  One title relates to the “Expeditious Program of Oil and Gas Leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska” and it contains Section 903 relating to leasing off the Virginia shore.  Another section of HR 4480 contains the language relating to the Colville River.

Perhaps I am wrong about Gardner's motivation.  If any of you run into Representative Gardner you might ask him. 

The conversation might go something like this.

You….“Representative Gardner, why did you propose legislation to do away with the “Aquatic Resource of National Importance” designation for the Colville River Delta?

Representative Gardner…. “What?”

You repeat the question.

Representative Gardner….  “Where did you get that?”

You…. “It is in HR 4480, which you sponsored.”

Rep. Gardner (rallying)……  “I was just trying to do away with needless government regulation that interfered with our becoming energy independent.”

You…..  “Did you talk to anyone who lived in the Colville River Delta before you offered the legislation?”

Rep. Gardner…..  “I will have to look at my notes.  I will get back to you.”

You…  “While you are at it check to see where the idea of revoking that designation came from.  Was it one of your constituents?”

Maybe I am being too snarky.  Gardner, being a Republican, may believe that anything that protects nature from the effects of oil drilling is a needless government interference with resource extraction.

But when you are in the business of trying to make real the effects of campaign money on the actions of Congress, you have to make assumptions. 

You never know what is in a Congressman’s head.  All you can do is report the facts.  He received this much money.  He offered this legislation that was helpful to the contributor.  It had nothing to do with his district.  Draw your own conclusions.

As always do not hesitate to write back with comments and questions, and please forward this to anyone you think might be interested, especially people who live in Representative Gardner's district.

Sincerely,

 

Ken Gordon

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Pacs Giving to Both Sides

Here is a list of PACs that have given to both a Democrat and a Republican in the Colorado Congressional delegation:

ABBOTT LABORATORIES EMPLOYEE PAC

ACCENTURE INC PAC

ACTION COMMITTEE FOR RURAL ELECTRIFICATION

AFLAC PAC

AIRCRAFT OWNERS & PILOTS PAC

ALLERGAN INC PAC COMM FOR EMPLOYEES (APACE)

ALTRIA GROUP PAC

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF NEUROLOGY PROFESSIONAL ASSN

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF NURSE PRACTITIONERS PAC

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPHTHALMOLOGY (OPHTHPAC)

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEONS

AMERICAN AIRLINES PAC

AMERICAN ASSN OF NURSE ANESTHETISTS CRNA PAC

AMERICAN ASSN OF ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEONS PAC

AMERICAN ASSN OF ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEONS PAC

AMERICAN BAKERS ASSN PAC

AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC ASSN PAC

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY PAC

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RADIOLOGY ASSN PAC

AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR PAC

AMERICAN DENTAL ASSN PAC

AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY PAC (AXPPAC)

AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE CO PAC

AMERICAN FINANCIAL SERVICES ASSN PAC

AMERICAN GAS ASSN PAC

AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSN PAC

AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSN PAC

AMERICAN HOTEL AND LODGING ASSN PAC

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS PAC

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSN PAC

AMERICAN MOVING & STORAGE ASSN PAC

AMERICAN NURSES ASSN PAC

AMERICAN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSN PAC

AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC ASSN PAC

AMERICAN PHYSICAL THERAPY ASSCOATION PAC

AMERICAN PODIATRIC ASSN PAC

AMERICAN RESORT DEVELOPMENT ASSN PAC (ARDA-PAC)

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS PAC

AMERICAN SPEECH-LANGUAGE-HEARING ASSN PAC

AMERICAN SUGAR CANE LEAGUE PAC

AMERICAN SUGARBEET GROWERS ASSN PAC

AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSN PAC

AMGEN INC PAC

ANHEUSER BUSCH COMPANIES PAC

ARCADIS US INC PAC

ARCH COAL INC PAC

ASSN OF PRIVATE SECTOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES PAC

AT&T FEDERAL PAC

BALL CORPORATION PAC

BASIN ELECTRIC POWER COOPERATIVE PAC

BLACK HILLS CORPORATION PAC

BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD ASSN PAC

BNSF RAILPAC

BOEING PAC

BOK FINANCIAL CORP PAC

BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP PAC

BP CORPORATION NORTH AMERICA INC PAC

BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION INC PAC

BROOKE HOLDINGS & JACKSON NATIONAL LIFE SEP SEG FUND

BROWNSTEIN HYATT & FARBER PAC

BRYAN CAVE LLP PAC

BUILDING OWNERS AND MANAGERS ASSN

CAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORP ASSN POLITICAL  FUND

CARDIOLOGY ADVOCACY ALLIANCE PAC

CBEYOND INC PAC

CENTURYLINK INC EMPLOYEES PAC

CH2M HILL COMPANIES LTD PAC

CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP PAC

CME/CBOT PAC

CMS ENERGY CORPORATION EMPLOYEES FOR BETTER GOVERNMENT - FEDERAL

COALPAC

COLLEGE OF AMERICAN PATHOLOGISTS PAC

COLORADO BANKERS ASSN PAC

COMCAST CORPORATION PAC

COMPTEL PAC

COUNCIL OF INSURANCE AGENTS & BROKERS PAC

COVIDIEN PAC

CREDIT UNION LEGISLATIVE ACTION COUNCIL

CRICKET COMMUNICATIONS INC PAC (CRICKETPAC)

CUMMINS INC PAC

DAIICHI SANKYO INC EMPLOYEE PAC

DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA PAC

DAVITA INC PAC

DCI PAC

DEALERS ELECTION ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSN

DEAN FOOD COMPANY PAC

DELOITTE FEDERAL PAC

DICKSTEIN SHAPIRO LLP PAC

DIGITAL GLOBE PAC

DIRECTV  GROUP, INC FUND

DLA PIPER LLP (US) PAC (DLA PIPER PAC)

DOCTORS COMPANY FEDERAL PAC

DUKE ENERGY CORPORATION PAC

DYKEMA GOSSETT FEDERAL PAC

ECHOSTAR COMMICATIONS AND DISH NETWORK PAC

ELI LILLY & COMPANY PAC

EMPLOYEES OF NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION PAC

ENTERGY CORPORATION PAC (ENPAC)

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICAL CORPORATION (ECC) PAC

FACEBOOK PAC

FARM CREDIT COUNCIL PAC

FARMERS GROUP INC PAC

FEDERAL EXPRESS PAC

FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK OF TOPEKA PAC

FEDERATION OF AMERICAN HOSPITALS PAC

FIRST DATA CORP EMPLOYEES PAC

FLORIDA SUGAR CANE LEAGUE PAC

FORD MOTOR COMPANY CIVIC ACTION FUND

FREEPORT-MCMORAN COPPER & GOLD INC CITIZENSHIP COMMITTEE

GENENTECH PAC

GENERAL DYNAMICS CORPORATION PAC

GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY PAC

GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY PAC

GENWORTH FINANCIAL INC PAC

GLAXOSMITHKLINE PAC

GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC PAC

GREAT LAKES SUGARBEET GROWERS PAC

GREENBERG TRAURIG, PA PAC

GROCERY MANUFACTURERS ASSN PAC

GROWTH ENERGY PAC

HARRIS CORPORATION PAC

HCA GOOD GOVERNMENT FUND

HCR MANOR CARE PAC

HEARTLAND COMMUNITY BANKERS ASSN-PAC (HCBA-PAC)

HEWLETT PACKARD COMPANY PAC

HOGAN LOVELLS PAC

HOLLAND & KNIGHT COMMITTEE FOR EFFECTIVE GOV

HOLLAND AND HART FEDERAL PAC

HOME DEPOT INC PAC

HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL PAC

HUMANE USA PAC

INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY BANKERS OF AMERICA PAC

INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS & BROKERS OF AMERICA

INTEGRAPAC OF INTEGRA TELECOM HOLDINGS

INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF SHOPPING CENTERS INC PAC

INTERNATIONAL PAPER PAC

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS

JOBS, OPPORTUNITIES AND EDUCATION, PAC (JOE-PAC)

JPMORGAN CHASE & CO FEDERAL PAC

K&L GATES LLP PAC

KPMG PARTNERS/PRINCIPALS & EMPLOYEES PAC

KROGER PAC

KUTAK ROCK LLC PAC

LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS INC PAC

LIBERTY MEDIA CORPORATION PAC

LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION EMPLOYEES PAC

MANUFACTURED HOUSING INSTITUTE PAC

MASTERCARD INTERNATIONAL INC EMPLOYEES' PAC

MCKESSON CORP EMPLOYEE POLITICAL FUND PAC

MEDCO HEALTH PAC

MEDNAX PAC

MERCK & CO INC EMPLOYEES PAC (MERCK PAC)

MICHAEL BAKER CORPORATION PAC

MICROSOFT CORPORATION PAC

MILLER COORS LLC PAC

MINEPAC A PAC OF THE NATIONAL MINING ASSN

MINN-DAK FARMERS COOPERATIVE PAC

MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSN PAC

MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS, INC PAC

MUTUAL OF OMAHA COMPANIES PAC

NATIONAL ACTION COMMITTEE (NACPAC)

NATIONAL APARTMENT ASSN PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF BROADCASTERS PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF CHAIN DRUG STORES PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF INDUSTRIAL AND OFFICE PROP

NATIONAL ASSN OF INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL ADVISORS PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF MORTGAGE BROKERS PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF MUTUAL INSURANCE PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS INC PAC

NATIONAL ASSN OF REALTORS PAC

NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSN

NATIONAL BEER WHOLESALERS ASSN PAC

NATIONAL CABLE & TELECOMM PAC

NATIONAL COMMUNITY PHARMACISTS  ASSN - PAC

NATIONAL EMERGENCY MEDICINE PAC

NATIONAL MULTI HOUSING COUNCIL PAC

NATIONAL PROPANE GAS ASSN PAC

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSN PAC

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSN OF AMERICA POLITICAL VICTORY FUND

NATIONAL RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSN PAC

NATIONAL STONE SAND & GRAVEL ASSN ROCKPAC

NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COOPERATIVE ASSN

NATIONAL VENTURE CAPITAL ASSN

NELNET INC PAC (NELNET PAC)

NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY PAC

NEWMONT MINING CORPORATION PAC (NEWPAC)

NEWS AMERICA HOLDINGS INC FOX PAC

NOBLE ENERGY INC PAC

NORTHEAST UTILITIES EMPLOYEES' PAC - FEDERAL

NOSSAMAN LLP PAC (NOSSAMAN PAC)

NOVARTIS CORP PAC

NRG ENERGY INC PAC

NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE FEDERAL PAC

PAETEC HOLDING CORP PAC

PATTON BOGGS PAC

PETROLEUM MARKETERS ASSN PAC

PFIZER INC PAC

PG&E CORPORATION ENERGY PAC

PHIL PAC

PINNACLE WEST CAPITAL CORPORATION PAC

PMA GROUP PAC

POLSINELLI SHUGHART PC PAC

POWER PAC OF ENERGY FUTURE HOLDINGS CORP

POWER PAC OF THE EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS PAC

PROGRESS ENERGY EMPLOYEE'S FEDERAL PAC

PROPERTY CASUALTY INSURERS ASSN OF AMERICA PAC  (PCIPAC)

PURDUE PHARMA INC PAC

QWEST COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL INC PAC

RAYTHEON COMPANY PAC

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS PAC

REAL ESTATE ROUNDTABLE PAC (REALPAC)

REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC PAC; RAI PAC

SAFEWAY INC PAC (SAFEPAC)

SALLIE MAE INC PAC

SECURITY SERVICE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION PAC

SOUTHERN COMPANY EMPLOYEES PAC

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA BEET SUGAR COOPERATIVE PAC

SPECTRA ENERGY CORP PAC

SPRINT NEXTEL CORPORATION NEXTEL PAC

STEPTOE AND JOHNSON LLP PAC

SUN HEALTHCARE PAC

T-MOBILE USA, INC  PAC (T-PAC)

TACO PAC

TIME WARNER CABLE FEDERAL PAC CTE

TITLE INDUSTRY PAC

TURKISH COALITION USA PAC

TYCO INTERNATIONAL (US) INC EMPLOYEES PAC

UAL Corp

UNION PACIFIC CORPORATION FUND FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC PAC

UNITED PILOTS PAC

UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSN EMPLOYEE PAC - USAA EMPLOYEE PAC

UNITED STATES TELECOM ASSN PAC CTE

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION PAC

US BANCORP POLITICAL PARTICIPATION PROGRAM

US ONCOLOGY INC GOOD GOV COMMITTEE

US-CUBA DEMOCRACY PAC

VERIZON COMMUNICATION INC GOOD GOVT CLUB

VFW PAC

WAL-MART STORES INC PAC FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

WELLPOINT INC, PAC

WELLS FARGO & CO EMPLOYEE PAC

WESTERN SUGAR COOPERATIVE PAC

WESTERN UNION COMPANY PAC

WESTON SOLUTIONS INC PAC (WESTON PAC)

WESTWOOD COLLEGE, INC FUND FOR EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE

WEXLER & WALKER PUBLIC POLICY ASSNIATES PAC (A UNIT OF HILL & KNOWLTON)

WILLIAMS AND JENSEN PLLC PAC

WINE & SPIRITS WHOLESALERS OF AMERICA PAC

XCEL ENERGY EMPLOYEE PAC

XO COMMUNICATION PAC

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Diana's Donors

“Even when Congress occasionally does something about big money buying political influence--which it does every forty or fifty years--the Supreme Court says that ‘money is speech.’  No other country says bribery is speech!” 

-The author, venting during an early morning power walk with former Denver Post reporter Mike McPhee.


This is our second installment analyzing the special interest PAC contributions to members of Congress.  Two weeks ago we looked at money given to Republican Mike Coffman.  Here we are looking at PAC money given to Democrat Diana DeGette.

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Diana DeGette represents all of Denver, along with parts of Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties. She is the longest serving Member from Colorado, first elected in 1996. DeGette serves as a whip for the Democratic minority and sits on the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  She was Vice Chair of this committee when Democrats were in the majority from 2007 to 2011.

In her Congressional career she has raised $3.7 million dollars from PACs – 51% of her campaign contributions. Of that $3.7 million, $2,327,531, 64% of the total, comes from business PACs, $1,088,200, 30% of the total, comes from labor and $238,287, 7% comes from single issue ideological PACs. The graphic below is a word cloud of all of her PAC contributors.  The size of the font correlates with the size of the contribution.  Her top 20 PACs are detailed here.

DeGette_Word_Cloud.png


Most candidates, lobbyists, and big contributors deny that there is anything wrong with our campaign finance system.  Contributors will say, “We are just supporting candidates who share our values.  We are not buying excessive influence.”

If supporting candidates who share their values were the motivation for campaign contributions, you would not see interests contributing to candidates from opposite ends of the political spectrum.  And yet there are 36 special interest PACs that have given to every member of the Colorado delegation who takes PAC money (Polis does not take PAC Money), and 253 have given to at least one Democrat and one Republican!

These are the interests who have contributed to every member of the Colorado delegation who takes PAC money -- Republicans and Democrats (in order of most contributed to least).

PACs_That_Give_to_All.jpg


Earlier we pointed out that a number of Rep. Coffman’s biggest contributors were defense contractors, and I noted that this was probably because of his membership on the Armed Services Committee.  

However, defense contractors Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon actually have contributed to every single member of the Colorado delegation who takes PAC money.  Why would PACs contribute to members coming from ideologically divergent points?

Because they aren’t supporting candidates who share their values.  They are buying influence with every member of Congress they can. Since you probably don’t have a PAC, they are getting something you don’t have.

This is a disconnect.  Ask your member of Congress if they are influenced by their campaign contributions.  They will probably deny it.  Ask the lobbyist representing these PACs whether they get anything for the money they contribute.  A lobbyist quoted in the New York Times on August 10 said, "we make an investment, and we are hopeful that investment produces a return."

Following this line — that special interest PACs contribute to get influence rather than support candidates whose values they share — it is noteworthy that Congresswoman DeGette received more than twice as much money from business interests than she got from labor.

Remember that her district, unlike the Coffman seat, is a safe seat.  In 2012 Diana received 68% of the vote.  No interest group, whether they like her or not, needs to give her money to ensure that she keeps the seat.

So why do they spend this money?

I hope you are doing well.  As always do not hesitate to write back with comments or questions and please share this email with anyone who you think might be interested.

If you would like to help us work on this issue, click here to donate to CleanSlateNow.org.

Sincerely,


Ken Gordon


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Diana DeGette's Top 20 PAC Donors

DeGette_Top_20.jpg

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A few not so fun facts

In Boston’s upcoming mayoral race, candidate Rob Consalvo recently asked his running mates not to take special-interest PAC money.

Consalvo’s proposal seemed commendable until I saw fellow candidate Charlotte Golar Richie’s response. She rejected Consalvo’s proposal, explaining, “I do not come to this race with a war chest like Councilor Consalvo”. She continued, “I have to build my organization and campaign account from scratch.”

This dialogue puzzled me. I believed special interest money to be synonymous with immoral politics.

Defense-Contractor.jpg

After digesting Golar Richie’s response, my first thought went like this: holding political office is ultimately someone’s job, upon which its occupants’ livelihoods depend. Naturally, individuals want to succeed in their work. A politician succeeds if he or she helps contribute to just and effective government, but this end goal entails periodic reelection. Therefore, since reelection campaigns require a lot of money, a politician needs access to financial backers for success.

All right, so politicians need lots of money to maintain their offices. But this does not explain why Richie and other politicians dismiss individual contributions while seeking out special interests. Why not focus on involving voters and reject unrelated special-interest PAC money?

Simply answered, citizens do not give enough money.  Consider 2008 - only 4% of Americans made any sort of political contribution. Less than 1% contributed 80% of all political funds. In 2012, 0.4% of Americans gave more than $200 to a political cause, yet this 0.4% provided 63.5% of all money to federal candidates, PACs and political parties.

Candidates cannot rely on citizens when the average citizen is not politically engaged.

This lead to my next supposition: is it the case that local and state candidates may require special interest money, whereas federal officials are wealthier and should finance their own campaigns? I discovered a state lawmaker’s base salary (including bonuses/per diem) varies from around $50,000 to $90,000, while local politicians surely earn even less. Meanwhile the average personal wealth of U.S. Senators and Congressmen is respectively $11.9 million and $6.5 million.

So why do these millionaires not finance their own campaigns? Well, of House and Senate members who won election in 2012, the average campaign funds raised were respectively $1,689,580 and $10,476,451 per candidate.

That’s a lot of money needed to retain a job. Is it fair to ask Senators to contribute $1.75 million or Congressmen $845,000 every year from their personal savings? No other profession demands colossal personal contribution from its employees so they can keep their positions. Besides, many Senators and Representatives would quickly go bankrupt attempting to finance their own campaigns. 

What does all of this unsettling information reveal about the big picture of American politics?

Bright men and women run for office wanting to create a better country. To get elected, candidates need campaign money. The average citizen is either politically unaware or simply reluctant to contribute, so candidates turn to special interest money. In order to keep contributions flowing, politicians find themselves legislating in favor of special interests and not constituents. Elected officials cannot impartially do their jobs without angering groups who enable them to keep their jobs. 

How do we fix this? Candidates who do not take PAC money (Colorado’s own Andrew Romanoff) and state systems of publicly financed campaigns are encouraging steps. Ultimately, people must stand against special interests and renew their political engagement. As previously mentioned, 0.4% of Americans contributed 63.5% of all political giving in 2012. What if the other 99.6% of Americans started contributing $5 each to their preferred candidates?

Join CleanSlateNow and our Clean Election Crew if you are sick of watching our government implode from the sidelines.

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Farm Bill, a Study in Special-Interest Exploitation

Congressional work on the Farm Bill has been a dismal showing of special-interest influence, reflecting poorly on both Democrats and Republicans.  

The first draft of the Bill failed in mid-June, the key-up being crop insurance policies. Prior to the final vote, Jim McGovern (D-Mass) added an amendment to reduce crop insurance funding in order to avoid cuts to SNAP, which were supported by House Republicans (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or the food stamp program). 

The vote on McGovern’s measure was mostly along party lines except for eight wayward Democrats siding with Republicans. What might explain their abandonment of SNAP funding, a mainstay in liberal policy?

Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Ranking Democratic Member of the Agriculture Committee, received $17,500 from the American Farm Bureau political action committee (PAC) in 2012, his top contributor in the last three election cycles. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, also a committee member, received a total of $296,000 Agribusiness contributions in 2012 -- in the same year the average agribusiness donation per Democrat was just $36,880. 

  The potential downpour of new agribusiness subsidies is a gloomy forecast for American taxpayers

  The potential downpour of new agribusiness subsidies is a gloomy forecast for American taxpayers

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