“For the People Act” Explained

You’ve probably heard something about the “Voting rights bill” that the Democrats passed in the House. The Senate is about to take it up.  What’s in it and what are some of the myths that are now being leveled against it?

The bill that the House passed is H.R.1For the People Act”.  It passed along strict party lines.  In the Senate it is called S.1 and it’ll be taken up in committee this Wednesday, March 24th.

It’s much more than a voting rights bill.  It’s a desperately needed democracy reform billVox.com compiled an excellent description of what’s in the bill, so rather than paraphrase, here is an excerpt:

Voting rights

  • Creates new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out rather than opt in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Requires chief state election officials to automatically register eligible unregistered citizens.
  • Requires each state to put online options for voter registration, correction, cancellation, or designating party affiliation.
  • Requires at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections; early voting sites would be open for at least 10 hours per day. The bill also prohibits states from restricting a person’s ability to vote by mail, and requires states to prepay postage on return envelopes for mail-in voting.
  • Establish independent redistricting commissions in states as a way to draw new congressional districts and end partisan gerrymandering in federal elections.
  • Prohibits voter roll purging and bans the use of non-forwardable mail being used as a way to remove voters from rolls.
  • Restores voting rights to people convicted of felonies who have completed their sentences; however, the bill doesn’t restore rights to felons currently serving sentences in a correctional facility.

Campaign finance

  • Establishes public financing of campaigns, powered by small donations. This has long been Sarbanes’s vision:  The federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for candidates for president and Congress, which means for every dollar a candidate raises from small donations, the federal government would match it six times over. The maximum small donation that could be matched would be capped at $200.  This program isn’t funded by taxpayer dollars; instead, the money would come from adding a 4.75 percent fee on criminal and civil fines, fees, penalties, or settlements with banks and corporations that commit corporate malfeasance (think Wells Fargo).
  • Supports a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United.  (requires a separate resolution).
  • Passes the DISCLOSE Act, pushed by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats from Rhode Island.  This would require super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.
  • Passes the Honest Ads Act, championed by Sens. Klobuchar and Mark Warner (VA), which would require Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money for political ads on their platforms and share how much money was spent.  (A Facebook spokesman told Vox the company has publicly supported Honest Ads Act since 2018).
  • Discloses any political spending by government contractors and slows the flow of foreign money into the elections by targeting shell companies.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to have five commissioners instead of six, in order to break political gridlock at the organization.
  • Prohibits any coordination between candidates and super PACs.

Ethics

  • Requires the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of his or her tax returns. Candidates for president and vice president must also do the same.
  • Stops members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.
  • Gives the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and implement stricter lobbying registration requirements. These include more oversight of foreign agents by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
  • Creates a new ethics code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.

Clearly, this is a pro-democracy bill that makes it easier for U.S. citizens to get registered and vote, ends partisan gerrymandering, promotes small donor campaign financing and ends “dark money” by promptly disclosing donations over $10,000.

Sadly, republican lawmakers in 43 states have introduced 253 bills to restrict ballot access, citing the need to assure Americans that elections will no longer be “rigged” — despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud in 2020.

So, republicans are eager to disparage and mischaracterize what’s in the bill. Here are some of their falsehoods:

  • It uses your tax dollars to support candidates you don’t support. No, it uses criminal and civil fines and settlements with corporations that commit malfeasance.
  • This is a democratic power grab that is anti-republican. Well, yes, it pushes back against GOP voter suppression laws.  Sadly, the GOP is increasingly a minority rule party pushing an agenda dictated by its rich donors in addition to other constituencies: gun enthusiasts, anti-abortion folks and white nationalists.
  • It’s an unconstitutional overreach of states’ rights. This set national standards for registration and voting.  There are national standards for lots of things, and this is necessary to push back against current voter suppression tactics. Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution gives the Congress the power “at any time” to “make or alter” state election regulations.
  • Same day voter registration invites fraud. More than twenty states already have same day registration. Proof of identity and residence are required and there are criminal penalties for fraudulent voting.  Cases of fraud are far and few between.

Republicans in the Senate would happily use the filibuster rule to kill the For the People Act. Democrats call it necessary democracy reform and they can change or eliminate the filibuster rule with a simple majority.  As majority leader, Chuck Schumer said: “Everything is on the table. Failure is not an option.”

Wisconsin United To Amend supports this major democracy reform bill and hopes you will too.  Please educate your family and friends about it and hopefully together we can see it through.  It represents an important step towards our goal of a Constitutional Amendment that would once again allow states and Congress to set legislative limits on campaign spending.

Two More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Two More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (November 5, 2020) – In the November election, Wisconsin residents in two communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

The referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in both Winnebago County (76%) and the town of Land O’ Lakes in Vilas County (84%).

That brings the total to 166 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. In total, almost 3.3 million people (58% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.  Across the country, 20 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 830 towns, villages, cities and counties.

“Over half of Wisconsinites have already called for an end to “corporate personhood” and seeing money as a form of speech.”, explained Oshkosh resident Cheryl Hansen.  “It’s time that our state legislators follow the will of “we the people” and put the referendum on the state ballot.  The millions of anonymous dollars spent during this election cycle continue to disenfranchise the average citizens’ voice in American governance.”

“The Citizen’s United decision has been a disaster since day one.  We used to worry about old fashioned PACs!”, exclaimed Minocqua resident, Kay Hoff.  “Even their voices are not heard since the explosion of Super PACs.  The voice of the people will be gone until our Constitution is amended to correct this travesty.”

Resolutions calling for a statewide vote on Citizens United have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 11 / SJR 9).  The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Numerous polls show that government corruption and money in politics is a top issue in America.[1] Over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[2]

Jackie Cody, a resident in Rhinelander, explained that: “We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races.  Only people have a constitutional right to free speech.  Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment.”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a nonpartisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

For more information visit UnitedToAmend.org

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

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

[1] https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Money-In-Politics-Polls.pdf

[2] https://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

Money in Politics Tops List of Voter Concerns

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Contact: Jim Crist, 608-274-6201, wisconsin@unitedtoamend.org

Money in Politics Tops List of Voter Concerns

Madison, WI (October 16, 2020) Numerous polls show that government corruption is the top issue on the minds of voters.[1]  Over 90% of Americans think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[2]  It’s no surprise that Americans’ job approval rating for Congress hovers near single digits.

The non-partisan citizen-action group, Wisconsin United To Amend, contacted all 200+ state Assembly and Senate candidates numerous times, via email, Facebook and phone calls, to determine their level of support for a U.S. Constitutional amendment declaring that free spending is not free speech and only actual human beings have human rights.  Based on responses, the group has compiled a voter education guide with a list of 56 Anti-Corruption Candidates (https://wiuta.org/2020-anti-corruption-candidates)

Phillip Anderson, an Assembly candidate in Madison put it this way, “Generally the question has been, is money speech? That’s not the problem. The problem is that money BUYS speech, crowding out and shouting down others’ speech. The Founders were looking for an open forum of ideas and discussion, not a contest to see who could raise the most money and dominate the discussion!”

Kriss Marion, a state assembly candidate in Lafayette County stated, “I make hundreds of calls to constituents a day. What is nearly universal about those calls is that people feel that politicians are corrupt and government is broken. Many citizens have lost faith in democracy and believe that money runs our nation. They aren’t wrong. Until we overturn Citizens United, and abolish unlimited corporate spending on campaigns, we won’t have control of our own government. But there are many things we could do to turn the tide back right here at home in Wisconsin, including reducing campaign donation limits to candidates. What we spend on elections is completely outrageous.”

Katherine Gaulke, a state assembly candidate from the Town of Delavan explains, “In 2015, my opponent voted to overturn a corporate contribution ban that had been in place since 1905.  As your next Assemblyperson from the 32nd District, I will support AJR 11 and Wisconsin United to Amend.  Let’s get dark money out of politics.”

Mike McCabe, clean government advocate and former candidate for governor, lamented the lack of attention given to this issue during candidate forums, stating “There were about 50 candidate forums leading up to the primary.  Over the course of all those forums, candidates were asked more than 200 questions.  Three were about money in politics. Voters are concerned about it and want to hear what can be done.  Most candidates don’t want to talk about it.  The media and interest groups rarely ask them to.”

Wisconsin United To Amend is a non-partisan, all volunteer organization. One volunteer, Jackie Cody of Rhinelander, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 164 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment.  We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

Due to the efforts by hundreds of volunteers across the state, referenda and resolutions have passed in 164 communities with voter approvals as high as 91%.  In total, 3.2 million people (56% of Wisconsinites) live in jurisdictions that have called for this amendment.  Two more communities will be on the November ballot. For more information, visit wiuta.org.

Link to this press release.

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

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3 and photo4.

Lafayette County Board Votes to Support Constitutional Amendment

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Lafayette County Board Votes to Support Constitutional Amendment

Darlington, WI (May 19, 2020) – On Tuesday, May 19th, the Lafayette Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for a resolution that supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The amendment would overturn the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, so that limits could be placed on the vast amount of money in our political system.  The amendment would clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

Lafayette County joins with 163 other Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment.  In total, almost 3.2 million people (56% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.  Across the country, 20 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 820 towns, villages, cities and counties.

“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us, and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said Darlington resident Nancy Fisker.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  Numerous polls show that Money in Politics is a top issue for voters.[2]

One volunteer, Bill Holland of Monroe, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 164 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment.  We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

Resolutions calling for a statewide vote on Citizens United have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 11 / SJR 9).  The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

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.”[3]

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?”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a bipartisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

For more information visit UnitedToAmend.org

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

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

Link to this press release.

[1] https://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

[2] https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Money-In-Politics-Polls.pdf

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

Seventeen More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Seventeen More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (April 14, 2020) – In the April election, Wisconsin residents in seventeen communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in the cities of Rhinelander (89%) and Eagle River (87%) and the towns of Wescott (86%), Newbold (87%), Crescent (83%), Pelican (85%), Woodruff (85%), Pine Lake (86%), Hazelhurst (86%), Arbor Vitae (87%), Presque Isle (79%), Winchester (79%), Boulder Junction (86%), Phelps (81%), Lac du Flambeau (85%), Plum Lake (82%) and Manitowish Waters (77%).

That brings the total to 163 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. In total, almost 3.2 million people (56% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions.  Across the country, 20 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 820 towns, villages, cities and counties.

“The Citizen’s United decision has been a disaster since day one.  We used to worry about old fashioned PACs!”, exclaimed Minocqua resident, Kay Hoff.  “Even their voices are not heard since the explosion of Super PACs.  The voice of the people will be gone until our Constitution is amended to correct this travesty.”

David Barnhill, a leader in Oneida County, said: “These referenda consistently pass with amazingly 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.”

Resolutions calling for a statewide vote on Citizens United have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 11 / SJR 9).  The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  And numerous polls indicate that government corruption is either the most important or a very important issue facing the country. [2]

Jackie Cody, a resident in Rhinelander, explained that: “We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races.  Only people have a constitutional right to free speech.  Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment.”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a bipartisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

For more information visit UnitedToAmend.org

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

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

Link to this press release.

[1] https://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

[2] https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Money-In-Politics-Polls.pdf

Seventeen Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Seventeen Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

Madison, WI (March 24, 2020) – On Tuesday, April 7th, Wisconsin residents in Seventeen communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only humans should have constitutional rights and that money is not the same as speech and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process.

Voters will cast ballots in the following cities and towns:

Cities: Rhinelander, Eagle River

Towns: Wescott (Shawano); Newbold, Crescent, Pelican, Woodruff, Pine Lake, Hazelhurst (Onieda); Arbor Vitae, Presque Isle, Winchester, Boulder Junction, Phelps, Lac du Flambeau, Plum Lake, Manitowish Waters (Vilas)

If all vote in favor, 163 Wisconsin communities will have called for the We The People amendment. Nationwide, 20 state legislatures have done likewise, as have more than 820 towns, villages, cities, and counties.

“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us, and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said Hazelhurst resident David Barnhill.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  Numerous polls show that Money in Politics is a top issue for voters. [2]

Rhinelander resident, Jackie Cody said, “The people’s voices and desires are strangled by the glut and acceptance of campaign cash by elected officials.”

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.” [3]

One volunteer, Jan Koch of Shawano, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 146 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment. We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

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.

Link to this press release.

Photos: photo1, photo2 and photo3.

Contact George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

[1] https://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

[2]https://wiuta.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Money-In-Politics-Polls.pdf

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

Political Reform Chautauqua to be held in Menomonie Sept. 7-8th

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Contact: Jim Crist, 608-274-6201, jim.crist@unitedtoamend.org

Political Reform Chautauqua to be held in Menomonie Sept. 7-8th

Madison, WI (August 19, 2019) – There will be a Political Reform Chautauqua, September 7-8th at the Dunn County Historical Society, 1820 Wakanda Street Northeast, Menomonie, WI.

Speakers include former Sen. Dale SchultzMatt Rothschild of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Mike McCabe from Blue Jean Nation, Sachin Chheda on Fair Maps, Lena and Rich Eng from Represent Us, and George Penn of Wisconsin United To Amend.

A new reform movement has been building since the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, which triggered unlimited corporate spending in our elections.  Nationwide, twenty states and over 800 communities, including 144 in Wisconsin have called for a constitutional amendment that would clarify that only real people should have constitutional rights and that money is not the same thing as free speech.  In addition, 47 of 72 counties in Wisconsin have called for nonpartisan redistricting, which would end political gerrymandering.

The 21st Century Political  Reform Chautauqua will bring together reformers from across the state.  “It’s time to put patriotism before politics,” stated former state senator, Dale Schultz. “In all my years in government,  I have never seen such enthusiasm for reform.”

“The Chautauqua will galvanize a cross-partisan effort,” added Represent Us volunteer leader, Lena Eng. “It is a game-changer to bring hope to Wisconsinites disgusted by our broken political system.”

Wisconsin United to Amend leader, George Penn summed it up: “This is our moment in history to restore civility and representation to our corrupt political system.  Our politicians won’t stem this flow of campaign cash on their own.  We The People have to build a movement and force them to act.” 

To register, visit EventBrite.com and search for “21st Century Wisconsin Political Reform Chautauqua” or visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/21st-century-wisconsin-political-reform-chautauqua-tickets-62148252095.

United To Amend is a cross-partisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6, photo7 and photo8.

Link to this press release.

Subeck, Hansen Push Referendum to Overturn Citizens United

For Immediate Release: January 16, 2019

For more information, contact:

Jim Crist, (608) 274-6201, wisconsin@unitedtoamend.org

Matt Rothschild, (608) 255-4260, rothschild@wisdc.org

Subeck, Hansen Push Referendum to Overturn Citizens United
Press Conference Jan. 22 at 10:00 a.m. in State Capitol

MADISON—On Tuesday, January 22, Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) will be holding a press conference to unveil their resolutions that would give Wisconsinites a chance to weigh in on the role of big money in elections. The resolutions propose a statewide advisory referendum urging our elected officials to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and related Supreme Court rulings, and to declare that only flesh-and-blood human beings have constitutional rights.

The press conference will be at 10:00 a.m. in the Assembly Parlor of the State Capitol to mark the ninth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which said that corporations and other groups, including unions and now SuperPACs, can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence who gets elected.

“Corporations and billionaires shouldn’t be able to buy our elections,” Rep. Subeck said.

“It’s time to let the voters be heard on this critical threat to our democracy,” Sen. Hansen said.

These resolutions are backed by the Money Out, Voters In–Wisconsin coalition, which consists of Blue Jean Nation, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Common Cause in Wisconsin, NAACP of Madison, Our Wisconsin Revolution, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Wisconsin Farmers Union, WisPIRG, United to Amend, and Wisconsin Voices.

To date, a total of 144 communities in Wisconsin have passed local referendums or resolutions in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that corporations aren’t persons and money isn’t speech. And 19 states have already called for such a constitutional amendment.

The Money Out, Voters In Coalition, recognizing that Martin Luther King Day and the anniversary of the Citizens United decision fell on the same day this year, underscored that campaign finance reform is a civil rights issue.

“Poor people and people of color are underrepresented in the donor ranks, and as a result, our elected officials are not as responsive to them,” says Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “This has got to change.”

As Dr. King himself said: “Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. . . . It is not man.

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (November 7, 2018) – On Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in three counties: Jackson (69%), Sauk (72%) and Wood (80%); the villages of Readstown (91%), Westfield (87%) and Weston (83%); and the towns of Kickapoo (85%), Rib Mountain (78%) and Vermont (86%).

That brings the total to 142 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. In total, about three million people (55% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 780 towns, villages, cities and counties.

Kay Meyer from Rib Mountain said: “Hopefully our state elected officials will finally start to understand that when voters on both sides of the political spectrum from 142 Wisconsin communities indicate that they are unhappy with how campaign financing is working now, that it is time to take seriously the call of those voters to implement the needed changes to bring transparency and fairness to the process.”

Frank Buress, a leader in Marquette County, said: “These referenda consistently pass with amazingly 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.”

Resolutions calling for a statewide vote on Citizens United have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 53 / SJR 54).  The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  And numerous polls indicate that government corruption is either the most important or a very important issue facing the country. [2]

Gaylord Oppegard, a resident in Jackson County, explained that: “We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races. Only people have a constitutional right to free speech.  Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment.”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a cross-partisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

For more information visit UnitedToAmend.org

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

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

Link to this press release.

Nine Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

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Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Nine Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

Madison, WI (October 22, 2018) – On Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only humans should have constitutional rights and that money is not the same as speech and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process.

Voters will cast ballots in Jackson, Sauk and Wood counties, the villages of Readstown, Westfield and Weston, and the towns of Kickapoo, Rib Mountain and Vermont.

If all vote in favor, 142 Wisconsin communities will have called for the We The People amendment. Nationwide, 19 state legislatures have done likewise, as have more than 780 towns, villages, cities, and counties.

“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us, and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said Weston resident Carolyn Michalski.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  Many polls show that Money in Politics is a top issue for voters. [2]

Readstown resident, Kent Gallaway said, “The avalanche of corporate money is burying average citizens under a wave of corruption that is the worst ever in our nation’s history.  Government is being corrupted at every level.  We must amend the Constitution to roll back the effects of Citizens United.”

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.” [3]

One volunteer, Ben Dorshorst of Marshfield, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 133 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment. We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

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.

Link to this press release.

Photos: photo1, photo2 and photo3.

Contact George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/10/28/National-Politics/Polling/release_497.xmlhttps://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

https://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

[2] https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2017/10/11/americas-top-fears-2017

https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/campaign-wire-2018-midterms/card/1537810213

https://www.kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-late-summer-2018-the-election-pre-existing-conditions-and-surprises-on-medical-bills

https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/econ/2018/three-generations-voting-politics-infographic.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00249.005.pdf

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

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