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Lunch with the Incoming President and CEO of Common Cause, Miles Rapoport

Lunch with the Incoming President and CEO of Common Cause, Miles Rapoportmiles-rapoport.jpg

Thursday, October 16, 11:30am - 1pm

Denver Consistory
1370 Grant Street
Denver, CO 80203

You are invited to a luncheon with incoming Common Cause President and CEO Miles Rapoport.  Miles has a long history of working on the issue of money distorting politics, as well as serving in elective office and leading the organization Demos from a small start-up to a major policy research organization.

Learn a little more about him at this link:

This is a fundraising event to support Colorado Common Cause, but lunch and registration are free. So even if you’d like to come just to learn a little a more about the organization, we encourage you to join us.

While the event is free, an RSVP is required if you plan to attend.

Public Forum with Federal Elections Commission Vice Chair Ann Ravel

More Info on the forum with Federal Elections Commission Vice Chair Ann Ravel

Thursday, October 9, 7pm

University of Colorado Denver Lawrence Street Center
1380 Lawrence Street

2nd Floor Terrace Room

Ann Ravel - Vice Chair (and incoming Chair) of the FEC
Michael Berry - CU Denver Political Science Department
Will Trachman - Attorney, elections expert
Peg Perl - Staff Counsel, CO Ethics Watch
Stephanie Bor - CU Denver School of Public Affairs

First there will be a panel discussion, followed by opportunities for public comment (2 minutes per person, and you need to sign up that night to ensure your opportunity to speak).

If you plan to attend on next week Thursday, please RSVP with Clean Slate Now by clicking here, if you have not done so already.  I will bring t-shirts for anyone interested in wearing one and make sure you are signed up for an opportunity to speak.

Click here for more details from the official event website.

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.

Survey Results and 2 candidate updates

First, here is some good news: a recent poll by Public Policy Polling found Greg Orman leading Senator Pat Roberts by 7 points in the race for U.S. Senate in Kansas.  Greg Orman is running as an independent candidate and is not taking any money from special interest PACs.  Pat Roberts has taken as much money from PACs as he has from people.

On his website, Orman highlights the importance of reforming our campaign funding system to clean up Washington.  His platform specifically includes calls for banning leadership PACs and donations from federal contractor lobbyists and their PACs.

Originally, Orman joined a multi-candidate race as an independent, but the candidate nominated by the Democratic Party dropped out (though his name will remain on the ballot).  While Orman has turned down PAC money, Senator Pat Roberts has taken over $7.5 million from PACs in his career, including government contractors, and more than $2.3 million just this election cycle.

RoKhanna.jpgSecond, the race in California's 17th Congressional District between Democrats Ro Khanna and Congressman Mike Honda is heating up.  Khanna has held firm in his commitment not to take any money from special interest group PACs or from lobbyists.  Rep. Mike Honda has continued accepting PAC money, including over $575,000 just for this election cycle.  

Despite Honda taking PAC and lobbyist money, Khanna has actually raised more money in the race.  Khanna also received the endorsements of the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Khanna spells out his beliefs on the need for campaign funding reform in an open letter on his website.

Honda and Khanna are scheduled to debate on October 6.  We will keep an eye out for more details on that event, including any online viewing options for those of you not in the Silicon Valley area.

Finally, I wanted to share the results of our recent survey questions - about candidates who refuse PAC money but still accept money from lobbyists.  Of those who responded, 78% prefer that a candidate not take money from lobbyists, 6% prefer that they take lobbyist money, and 17% do not have a preference.  

More importantly, here are some of the comments from your fellow Clean Slate subscribers when asked how they feel about candidates who take campaign contributions from lobbyists:

It's government of, by, and for the highest bidder. It is our system of entrenched corruption. But given that it is our system, it's better to accept contributions from those we agree with than those that offer the most money.


We as taxpayers should allow legitimate candidates a set amount of money from the government. No PAC's, no lobbyists, no special interests, no corporations. Then and only then is it a level playing field and we will get honest opinions, I hope. The fact is they all are lying bastards.


If I knows that a candidate takes money from outside interests, I won't vote for him.


I agree with the causes some lobbyists are hired to represent, and not with others.  Failing to take contributions from lobbyists does not end the lobbyist system.


The lobbyists have become 4th branch of gov.  I highly respect those that do not take money from lobbyists, but they do reduce their chance of winning.


Candidates that take contributions from lobbyists are making it clear that their loyalties are given to the lobbyists, not to the citizens that vote for them.


I don't think they should, but the candidates continue to do so.  I also feel that accepting money influences how they vote on any given issue.  So, we the people become poorer and poorer because of unfavorable votes.


It may be hard to conceive this, but lobbyists are, unlike corporations, people.  I have no problem with them contributing their own money to candidates, or candidates accepting their personal money.


I will respond with what I think (not feel) about campaign contributions from lobbyists.  My understanding is that lobbyists represent organizations of people and to some extent the organizations (labor unions, teachers, etc.) of people are supporting candidates who have similar views.  There are regulations for lobbyists, (and for the people they represent) although I understand some persons are hired to perform similar functions as lobbyists and do not register.  With limits, the hiring of lobbyists to represent organizations is somewhat in line with contributions in line with people's interests. 

Campaign contributions from lobbyists creates the appearance of corruption, which increases distrust of everything government, and rightfully so.


Candidates who take campaign contributions from lobbyists can be influenced, but they still can think for themselves.


Lobbyists are corporate representatives, and are worse than corporations.


The entire funding system for Federal Office is broken.  There must be a leveling of the playing field between individual (read real people) contributions and powerful interests, including lobbyist, corporation (read contracting people, not real people).  This is only ONE of the issues wrong with our election system.


It is my belief that you dance with the one that brought you.  In other words, taking money makes candidates more likely to be beholden to the giver, either lobbyists or not.  That's why I favor public funding for all campaigns.


I wish we had publicly-funded-campaigns, so that lobbyists could spend their efforts informing already-elected officials, to help them make informed legislative decisions.  In the meantime, I expect some of the money I contribute to social justice, environmental, and political causes, to be spent electing candidates who will be in a position to enact legislation furthering the agenda I care about.

Thank you for continuing to read our emails, and for your feedback.  While you and I did not create the problems facing our political system, solving them will require the work of many of us.  If you cannot donate or volunteer, please be sure to at least share this information with your friends and family online or in person.

Candidates who turn down special interest money need all of us to speak up for them, in whatever way we can.


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Executive Director

Congressional District 6 - PAC $$ vs. Lobbyist $$

Labor Day used to be the unofficial kickoff date for campaign season.  In this day of unlimited campaign contributions and spending, though, many races have already taken off, including in Colorado's 6th Congressional District. 

Both of the candidates, Andrew Romanoff and Rep. Mike Coffman, launched their first TV ads, and the candidates have also held their first two debates.

You can watch the second debate online here, courtesy of the Aaron Harber Show and the Denver Post:

At the second debate, Coffman took issue with Romanoff's decision not to take money from political action committees (PACs), pointing out that Romanoff does take money from lobbyists and corporate executives.

What do you think?  Before you read on, click here to take our short, 3-question survey about this issue.

Read more

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