Eleven Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Special Interests

WIUTA banner3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, geo_penn@charter.net

Eleven Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Special Interests

Madison, WI (March 31, 2016) – On Tuesday, April 5th, Wisconsin residents in eleven communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to make clear that: a corporation is not a person, and money is not speech.

Voters will cast ballots in Beloit, Janesville, Brodhead, Monroe, Town of Clarno, Town of York, Darlington, Belmont, Platteville, Lancaster, and New London. If all vote in favor, this will bring to 72 the number of Wisconsin communities that have called for the We The People amendment. Nationwide, 16 state legislatures have done likewise, as have more than 680 towns, villages, cities, and counties.

The language of the proposed amendment would allow us to return representation to the people. “Most of our legislators are part of Pay-To-Play politics – they must serve their big-money Funders, not the people. I want my democracy to work for my grandchildren again” says Jeanette Kelty, the United to Amend leader in the Monroe area.

Polls consistently show widespread agreement among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans that our system is corrupt and needs fixing. Former State Senator Dale Schultz, summed it up well. “We’re talking about billionaires turning this country into a Russian-style oligarchy, where there are two dozen billionaires who buy the whole political process… we are awash in money because of Citizens United, and it puts good people in both parties in a difficult situation.” [1]

“It is now obvious that we are losing our democracy,” said Nettie McGee, a reformer in Outagamie County. “The huge money in our political system buys our elections and politicians.”

The roots of the problem run deeper than Citizens United. Over a century ago Robert M. La Follette spoke out against corruption wrought by the “concessions and privileges” given to corporations by legislators. “Why,” he asked, “in a government where the people are sovereign, why are these things tolerated?”

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: wiuta.org

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3.

Photos: photo1, photo2 and photo3.

Contact George Penn, 608-244-6436, geo_penn@charter.net

 


[1] Senator Dale Schultz presentation, March 7, 2014 at the L.D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI.

Meet at the Capitol and Help Get the Big Money Out of Politics!

Assemble for Redress of Grievances
Thursday January 21, 10 to noon
North Hearing Room on the 2nd floor of the State Capitol

Citizens across the State of Wisconsin want to get big money (especially big dark money) out of politics, but the state Legislature continues to ignore widespread and overwhelming calls for a Constitutional amendment to fix the problem. This is an opportunity to show them how serious we are about reclaiming our democracy.

MOVI Rally 2Rep. Lisa Subeck has introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 8, calling for a statewide referendum to determine citizen opinion on whether Wisconsin should support the “We the People” Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. The Assembly leadership hasn’t scheduled an official hearing on it, so Rep. Subeck has arranged an informal one for 10 AM to noon on Thursday, January 21 (significantly the 6th anniversary of Citizens United). It’ll be in the North Hearing Room on the 2nd floor of the State Capitol.

The first speakers would be Rep. Subeck and Sen. Dave Hansen, who has introduced the companion Senate Joint Resolution 12. Then there’d be some notable public figures. Then comes the citizen portion.

We really want a good turnout from outside the Madison area, which will otherwise be well represented. Nobody would be expected to speak for very long — a minute or so at most — but we’d like a lot of them. Ideally, after the hearing is over, each of them would visit the offices of their own representatives and senators and deliver the same message in person — to the elected official in person if possible, to a staff member if not.

And then, that evening, you’re invited to an Unhappy Birthday Party for Citizens United, 6:30 to 9:30 PM, at the Brocach Irish Pub, 7 W. Main St. on Capitol Square in Madison. Sponsored by South Central Wisconsin United To Amend, it’ll feature Mike Crute of The Devil’s Advocates as MC, Mike McCabe of Blue Jean Nation and John Nichols of The Nation magazine as featured speakers, a couple of other notable speakers (still being confirmed), (soft) classic rock by The Sundogs, a cake, a raffle, networking with fellow advocates of democracy, and the kind of wake that the Irish are famous for. We’re hoping that democracy will sit up in its coffin and loudly proclaim “Hey! I’m not dead yet!”

More Bad-Government Bills Introduced in Wisconsin

A series of bad-government bills have just been introduced into our state legislature, which would enable more and more corruption in Wisconsin. Legalized bribery via campaign donations would be easier than ever. Other proposed bills would gut the GAB, which would aid in avoiding any repercussions for bad behavior. We must stand up and fight for what is right! Please call, write, email and meet with any and all representatives you possibly can. For some background information, please read articles HERE and HERE.

Thanks to WI Voices for the following information:

The Campaign Finance bills are SB 292 and AB 387. The GAB Bill has been assigned numbers (AB 388 and SB 294) and hearings on the bills have been set for Tuesday, October 13th at 9 am. Please continue your support against these changes helping us with the following:

Join us for our press conference

** Because we have so many people coming to the hearing tomorrow, we are NOT going to have a press conference tomorrow. Instead, everyone should go directly to the hearing at 412 East and members of the coalition will be available outside of the hearing to answer media questions. Peter Skopec from WISPIRG and Jay Heck from Common Cause will answer questions about the GAB and Campaign Finance bills, and Colleen Gruszynski from WI Voices can take questions about the online and SRD bill.

Please come to the Hearing

The Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government will have a hearing at 9 am Tuesday, October 13th at 412 East in the Capitol. The GAB, Campaign Finance and Elections Technology Bill will all be discussed.

Please spread the word!

Here is some sample language you can use for turnout:

“Hi, this is __ from ____. As you’ve seen in the media, the Republicans are trying to fast track legislation that would remove our rights to know who is spending money on elections and would cause less oversight over politicians. Would you be able to join us on Tuesday at 9 am for the hearing?”

Please call, write, email and meet with your legislators

Please make sure you and your friends are calling their legislators. A sample script could look like:

“Hi, my name is _____. SB 292 and AB 387 takes away my right to know who is spending money in politics and no longer states that campaign finance laws should serve the public, not politicians. SB 294 and AB 388 guts our ability to make sure you are obeying the rules. As your constituent, I have the right to know who is spending money on your elections and not have election officials that are in the pocket of legislators. Vote no on SB 292/AB 387 and SB 294/AB 388.”

Keep the pressure up online

Please use the #SavetheGAB. Here is a Facebook meme Common Cause created.

Register Against the GAB Bill

Please register against the GAB Bill (AB 388 and SB 294).

Let us know if you have more questions. Thanks!

Colleen

Colleen Gruszynski
WI Voices-Data and Targeting Manager
colleen@statevoices.org
507.358.0249

Citizen Groups Form Alliance to Fight Corruption and Rescue Democracy

Three Wisconsin-based democracy reform groups – the Wisconsin Grassroots Network, Wisconsin United to Amend and Blue Jean Nation – announced the establishment of a partnership to maximize their collective impact.

“Separately, each of our groups possesses valuable assets and makes a difference,” said Mike McCabe, founder and president of Blue Jean Nation. “Together, our strength can be greater than the sum of its parts.”

All three groups share a mission of enabling Wisconsin citizens to work together to advance their ability to exercise the right to self-government against the corrupting influence of money in politics.

“There are many critical issues we face at this time in history,” said Jim Crist, from Wisconsin United To Amend, “but little can be done until we eliminate the institutionalized government corruption which is in our electoral process today. We look forward to working with Blue Jean Nation and Wisconsin Grassroots Network in this joint effort to build a stronger state network of community activists.”

McCabe, former director of the nonpartisan government watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, organized Blue Jean Nation last April to “house the politically homeless and transform parties that are failing America.” The group pursues its aims through community outreach, civic education and engagement, grassroots organizing, and public policy advocacy and social action.

Wisconsin United to Amend, formerly known as Wisconsin Move to Amend, is a nonpartisan state network working for a constitutional amendment that will overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions relating to corporations’ rights and money in politics, including Citizens United vs. FEC. The group has organized citizens’ groups in more than 60 communities throughout the state in support of referenda and resolutions that money is not speech, and that constitutional rights are reserved for natural persons, not corporations.

“United to Amend has done amazing work organizing communities, cultivating broad bipartisan support, and winning votes to rein in big money in politics by near-unanimous margins in community after community. We want to help find ways to keep those neighborhood activists engaged after their local vote is won. We want to knit them together with the activists in the other communities that have done the same thing,” said McCabe.

“Wisconsin Grassroots Network is ideally suited to help us make this happen,” McCabe added, “since it has been acting as the connective tissue for a wide range of different organizations and causes, and specializes in pulling together diverse interests into multifaceted local grassroots groups.”

Wisconsin Grassroots Network facilitates and sustains the development and growth of community-based grassroots groups that are devoted to enhancing democracy, justice and equity for all. WGN provides communication platforms, training, issue education, resources, organizing examples and networking opportunities for urban and rural grassroots organizations, their leadership and members.

“Critical issues that jeopardize democracy and our economy include institutionalized government corruption in our electoral process. We must stand united in our resolve to change our society’s course, community by community,” said Nate Timm of the Wisconsin Grassroots Network.

“Strategic alliances are key to this effort. We are inspired to be working with United to Amend as they mobilize communities to say unequivocally that corporations are not people and money is not free speech and Blue Jean Nation as they educate communities on the divisive tactics of focusing on the two political parties when the real issue is the undemocratic concentration of wealth in a few people. We look forward to playing our role in our partnership as a resource for developing community centered grassroots groups.”

Through the new alliance, the three groups intend to provide mutual support, avoid duplication of effort, and accentuate the respective strengths of each group.

Three More Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436 / geo_penn@charter.net

Three More Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (April 8, 2015) ­ On Tuesday, April 7th, three communities voted in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that money is not speech and that only real people should have inalienable Constitutional rights. This would reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to big money in elections.

All of the referenda passed with striking majorities: Watertown (69%), Evansville (80%), and the Town of Reedsburg (63%).

This brings the total number of Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment to 57. In total, over 2.4 million people (41% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 16 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 650 towns, villages, cities and other organizations.

After the votes were counted, Brad Geyer, the resolution campaign leader in Watertown said: “Instead of representative government serving the people, increasingly, we have corruption, conflicts of interest and bribery. A handful of people on the US Supreme Court have handed power to the highest bidders. We will overcome this corruption when people step up in enough numbers to show our leaders our true will.”

Polls have shown widespread disapproval of Citizens United across the political spectrum. According to an August 2014 poll, more than three quarters (78%) of voters feel that reducing the influence of money in politics is an important issue.

“I’m very pleased and excited that we got our message across to the people of Evansville,” said Fran Zell, campaign organizer. “We worked hard, but also the people were ready to hear our message. This movement has gained so much momentum across the state. People believing in their power to change things is the crux of the matter.”

“When will the legislators in Madison listen to the people of Wisconsin?” said Bill Waser, leader of the petition drive in the Town of Reedsburg. “I spent over 10 years in our Navy and never once did I hear at morning muster “AT&T, GM, or Walmart. How can you say that a corporation, union, or other nonprofit organization is a person? Sure, made up of people, but so is a city… is a city a person? It’s ridiculous.

Democracy is a living, breathing ideal that needs to be nourished and worked on. Now is time to right this wrong! Stand with your fellow citizens across the land and get this referendum passed in your town, village, or city. We’re here to help you.”

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: https://wiuta.org

Wisconsin United To Amend Background Information:
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WIUTA-Community-Handout.pdf
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Citizen-Lobbying-1-pager.pdf

Press Release: 5th Anniversary of Citizens United

MoveToAmendWI

PRESS RELEASE for Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To mark the 5th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s highly controversial 2010 Citizens United decision, Money Out, Voters In Wisconsin (MOVI) is holding a press conference at 9:00am in the Assembly Parlor Room, at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Following the press conference, MOVI supporters plan to meet with representatives at the Capitol.

Five years ago today, the Supreme Court issued the highly controversial 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. A split Supreme Court—with 5 justices supporting and 4 justices opposing—decided that corporations, unions and other similar entities have the same rights as those reserved for citizens, and therefore, in protection of their First Amendment free speech rights, these corporate entities can contribute unlimited funds to elections. Over the past five years, what have been the consequences of this controversial and far-reaching Supreme Court decision?

Each election cycle since the 2010 Citizens United decision has seen more and more money pouring into the system. Campaigns have become significantly more costly, and perhaps even more significant, in recent elections the candidate with most money has won over 90% of the time. Most of the money in these ever more expensive elections comes from big corporate special interest, who have vastly outpaced the contributions of small donors. In 2014, the Supreme Court further undermined the ability to regulate campaign contributions in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. This ruling struck down aggregate limits on campaign contributions to federal candidates and political committees, making it easier for corporate groups and the super wealthy to contribute large sums directly to candidates and political parties.

According to a 2012 Brennan Center for Justice poll, nearly 70% of Americans believed superPAC spending leads to corruption, and 85% believed that, compared with past elections, the money being spent by political groups in elections was more likely to lead to corruption. Thus, it appears more and more money is pouring into elections and the majority of people believe that all this money is leading to widespread corruption.

The extension of constitutional rights to corporations, unions and other similar entities, often known as “corporate personhood,” has led to other serious issues. Corporations have used their court granted constitutional rights to evade protective regulations and to shun societal obligations. For example, in an effort to avoid environmental protections, the courts have claimed that regulatory inspections violate their Fourth Amendment protections from illegal search and seizures. Corporations have even claimed the First Amendment right to religious freedom, as seen in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case. In this case, a corporation successfully claimed the first amendment right of religious freedom to avoid complying with a government mandate.

With the significant consequences of the Citizens United decision in mind, there is a movement afoot to amend the constitution, to reign in political spending and to end corporate personhood. Nationally, the Move to Amend group is working state-by-state, town-by-town, and ultimately person-by-person to overturn Citizens United by amending the U.S. Constitution. Move to Amend is a national coalition, with more than150 local affiliates and over 370,000 members. Move to Amend supports the We the People Amendment, which clarifies for the Supreme Court and all Americans that money is not speech, and therefore, campaign spending can be regulated; and only human beings—not corporations, unions, and the rest—are entitled to constitutional rights.

“Nearly all Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed,” stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. “It is time for Congress to pass the We the People Amendment and send it to the states for ratification. The leadership of both parties need to realize that their voters are clamoring for this amendment, and we are only going to get louder.”

Thus far, 16 state legislatures have signaled their support in favor of some type of constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.  Across the country, almost 600 cities, towns, villages, and other organizations have voted in favor of the Move to Amend amendment, often by an overwhelming margin. In Wisconsin’s last election, twelve communities voted in support of an amendment, with every measure garnering at least 70% support. To date, 54 Wisconsin communities that have called for the Move to Amend amendment. In total, 2.4 million people (41% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.

 “Money in politics affects our lives everyday,” said Donna Richards, a Move to Amend volunteer of Fond du Lac, WI. “We pay too much for healthcare. Our taxes go towards corporate welfare and wars, instead of education and protecting our environment. Our energy policy is dictated by Big Oil, and we can’t even pass reasonable gun background checks because the gun manufacturers have bought half of Congress. This isn’t what democracy looks like.”

# # #
James Hartwick
Wisconsin Move to Amend, Co-chair
jmmccabe9@gmail.com
608.206.3032

Unhappy 5th Birthday, Citizens United!

The 5th anniversary of the disastrous Citizens United decision is this Wednesday, January 21st. United To Amend and Money Out, Voters In Wisconsin has a full day of events planned. Please Join Us!!

8:45 AM – Lobby Day Activist Training @ WISPIRG, 122 State Street, 5th Floor, Madison (map).

9:00 AM – Press Conference – Assembly Gallery Room, Wisconsin State Capitol Building, Madison.

10:45 AM – 2:00 PM: Lobby Day at the Capitol.

2:00-2:30 PM – Debrief, Capitol Routunda.

3:00 PM – Post-Lobbying social hour (Location TBD).

6:30-8:00PM – Unhappy 5th Birthday Party, Citizens United with Mike McCabe, Julie Wells, Kaja Rebane and the Raging Grannies! Meet us at Cargo Coffee, 750 E. Washington Ave, Madison (map).

Twelve Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436 / geo_penn@charter.net

Twelve Wisconsin Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (November 5, 2014) – On Tuesday, November 4th, twelve communities voted in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that money is not speech and that only real people should have inalienable Constitutional rights. This would reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to big money in elections.

All twelve referenda passed with overwhelming majorities: Milwaukee County (70%), Dunn County (72%), Green Bay (77%), Appleton (74%), Fond du Lac (73%), Neenah (79%), Menasha (80%), Ripon (79%), Oregon (79%), Stoughton (82%), Wausau (77%), and the Village of Park Ridge (83%).

This brings the total number of Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment to 54. In total, 2.4 million people (41% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 16 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as almost 600 towns, villages, cities and other organizations.

After the votes were counted, Betty Kossik, the resolution campaign leader in Green Bay said: “We are extremely pleased that these referenda passed by such high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Polls have shown widespread disapproval of Citizens United across the political spectrum. According to an August 2014 poll, more than three quarters (78%) of voters feel that reducing the influence of money in politics is an important issue.

“Money in politics affects our lives everyday”, said Donna Richards of Fond du Lac. “We pay too much for healthcare. Our taxes go towards corporate welfare and wars, instead of education and protecting our environment. Our energy policy is dictated by Big Oil, and we can’t even pass reasonable gun background checks because the gun manufacturers have bought half of Congress. This isn’t what democracy looks like.”

“We need the power of the people to change this situation,” said Katie Schierl, a leader of the petition drive in Neenah and Menasha. “That’s the only way it’s going to happen. This movement is growing all across America – it’s going viral. Everybody, including the politicians, sees the status quo needs to change.”

Marcia Engen, a Move To Amend leader in Appleton agreed. “Congress won’t fix our broken political process by itself. If we want real change, We the People have to stand up and demand it.”

Wisconsin United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: https://wiuta.org/

Wisconsin United To Amend Background Information:

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WIUTA-Community-Handout.pdf

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Citizen-Lobbying-1-pager.pdf

Photos:

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Milwaukee3.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Madison4.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Wausau-Petition-Signer.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Wausau-MTA.jpg

# # #

A Dozen Communities to Vote on a U.S. Constitutional Amendment Question

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, geo_penn@charter.net

A Dozen Communities to Vote on a U.S. Constitutional Amendment Question

Madison, WI (October 27, 2014) – On Tuesday, November 4th, Wisconsin residents in twelve communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to make clear that: a corporation is not a person, and money is not speech.

Voters will cast ballots in Milwaukee County, Dunn County, Green Bay, Appleton, Fond du Lac, Neenah, Menasha, Ripon, Stoughton, Oregon, Wausau and the Village of Park Ridge. If all vote in favor, this will bring to 54 the number of Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. Nationwide, 16 state legislatures have done likewise, as have almost 600 towns, villages, cities, counties and organizations.

The language of the proposed amendment would reverse Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling. “The Supreme Court changed the meaning of the 1st Amendment, and we want it changed back,” said Mary Laan, the Move To Amend leader in Milwaukee County.

“People don’t feel like they’re being represented anymore,” said Rita Pachal, a resident of Wausau. “And, in fact, they’re not. It’s all about the money now.”

Polls consistently show widespread disapproval of Citizens United among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. State Senator Dale Schultz, summed it up this way. “We’re talking about billionaires turning this country into a Russian-style oligarchy, where there are two dozen billionaires who buy the whole political process… we are awash in money because of Citizens United, and it puts good people in both parties in a difficult situation.”

However, the roots of the problem run deeper than Citizens United. Over a century ago Robert M. La Follette spoke out against corruption wrought by the “concessions and privileges” accorded to corporations by legislators. “Why,” he asked, “in a government where the people are sovereign, why are these things tolerated?”

Wisconsin United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: https://wiuta.org/

Wisconsin United To Amend Background Information:

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WIUTA-Community-Handout.pdf

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Citizen-Lobbying-1-pager.pdf

Photos:

https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Milwaukee3.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Madison4.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Wausau-Petition-Signer.jpg
https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Wausau-MTA.jpg

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The National 28th Amendment Roadshow is Coming to Madison!

Never before in the history of the United States has our system been so openly corrupted by big money. Our democracy has been overtaken by monied interests who have bought favor with politicians, putting up huge roadblocks to any legislation that benefits average Americans. But all over the country people are fighting back and demanding change.

Now is the time to take our government back!

  • Over 80% of Americans support a constitutional amendment.
  • Over 140 groups are working to GET THE MONEY OUT of politics.
  • 16 states and almost 600 cities have called for a constitutional amendment.
  • The 113th Congress proposed 14 amendments.
  • Over 150 members of Congress support a constitutional amendment.

Please join us on Saturday, Sept 6, when the “28th Amendment National Roadshow” comes to the Marquee Theater at Union South on the UW Madison campus (map). This event is being organized by the national Money Out, Voters In (MOVI) organization, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Money Out Voters In Coalition.

At the roadshow, amendment movement leaders and money in politics experts will lead a discussion on the need for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood, end the notion that money is speech and discuss how we can move forward from here.

A $5 donation is requested to participate in the conference. Click here to RSVP now!

The “National Roadshow” is endorsed by Move To Amend and other groups that are working across the country to pass an amendment.

The conference will be taking place Saturday, Sept 6 from 10AM-1PM, and includes a free screening of PAY 2 PLAY: DEMOCRACY’S HIGH STAKES at 2PM.

The day is scheduled so that people can come for the morning session, the afternoon session, or for a full day. Click here for more information and to RSVP! This will be major event with a full day of speakers and opportunities to network amongst activists who care about this issue.

We hope to see you there!

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