Did you know that when you buy a can of Coca Cola or Pepsi, those companies are turning around and spending $5 million each to buy elected officials?
And they're no exception. For companies whose products we buy every day, it's business as usual to spend millions of dollars to influence public elections. On May 19th, Rootstrikers across the country will take action to raise awareness about the corporate money that flows into politics from some of our favorite brands.
Here's the plan: we'll all head to our local grocery stores/department stores/shopping malls and, with the help of a radical new app from our friends at Biz Vizz, which makes it simple to see how much the makers of popular products are contributing to elections, we'll shine a light on the connection between our shopping carts and congressional coffers.
Sign up below, and we'll send you a toolkit with everything you need to take part in the action, including:
Check out the live influence tracker for this action.
- Info sheets to hand out outside of your local store, with talking points about how much money companies are spending in elections.
- Sign up sheets to help you recruit new Rootstrikers.
- Instructions to help you record video of yourself, your friends, (and maybe new friends?!), using the app to interact with products in the store, to reveal how much popular companies have contributed.· 61 rsvpsWHENMay 19, 2013 at 12pm
In phase one, we got FEC Chairwoman Weintraub to agree to hold a hearing on super PAC regulation. Now the stakes are higher, but we're that much closer to getting the hearing the people deserve. Sign and share the petition below.
As our federal budget goes into yet another crisis, the Federal Election Commission must consider how our political process got us here. For nearly 90% of Americans, the answer is obvious. So should it be to the FEC.
Many of us are beginning to realize that campaign finance lies at the root of the problem. Special interests – including businesses, unions, foundations, academic institutions and other nonprofits – directly or indirectly receive money from the government, rather than earn money by selling goods and services in a free market. These special interests lobby for government contracts, programs and other expenditures, and contribute generously to political parties and “independent” political expenditures, to back up their lobbying efforts.
Meanwhile, special interests get special access to key decision makers in return for political expenditures. According to a recent story in the New York Times a $500,000 contribution to one particular “independent” organization is enough to get a meeting with the President of the United States. Meetings with other federal officials presumably come with a lower price tag. The organization, set up by alumni of the President’s reelection campaign, is poised to fundamentally influence Administration policy over the next three and a half years, and is actively soliciting “donations” at the same time.
This “pay to play” problem is not unique to the present Administration. This problem grows as campaign expenditures grow in size and scope, and as all branches of government grow, as well. It is clear to many observers that there has been an enormous increase in the size and cost of government and in the cost of political campaigns over the past few decades. For many of us, this is an explainable correlation, and not a mere coincidence.
During a recent conference at Willamette University FEC Chairwoman Weintraub acknowledged the danger that candidate-specific super PACs pose to our democracy. Chairwoman Weintraub explained that the FEC's bipartisan composition was intended to find compromise. But this is not a partisan issue; both parties are part of this problem just as both parties are to blame for big and expensive government. Both parties have become dependent upon the campaign funding of special interests, many of which in turn thrive at taxpayer expense. “Pay to play” means special interests and politicians play the campaign finance game while the rest of us pay.1,691 signatures
Will the FEC acknowledge this corruption on both sides of the aisle? Will you call for a hearing to discuss candidate-specific super PACs and other abuses?
We hope so. The FEC must act now to address the corruption of our political process that erodes public trust and, among other dangers, is driving our government toward financial ruin.
In support of Rootstrikers' On the Record campaign, launched in conjunction with the Huffington Post last month, the Street Team is coordinating a letter writing campaign to ask members of Congress where they stand on the issue of money in politics. We're calling on Rootstrikers across the country to draft a letter by Wednesday 3/27, and to either organize and join a community workshop, (for example, such as those happening in San Francisco, Philadelphia, or New York) or post your letter online at the Street Team Blog.
This day will be a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn from each other and reflect upon the most effective ways to let our elected officials know that we need them to be accountable to the people alone.
Once we've had the chance to "workshop" our letters, we'll collect and send them, and we'll talk about the best ways to follow up so that we can make sure we know where our representatives stand on the root cause of our country's problems.
If you're interested in participating in this action, please reply to this blog post, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
**Update** March 28, 2013 — FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub agreed to our request, saying "sooner would be better." Please add your signature to our second, bipartisan petition targeting the remaining members of the commission.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen L. Wientraub recently acknowledged the potential corruption of candidate-specific super PACs, but her remarks said nothing of a plan to address this. Please join Rootstrikers in demanding that the FEC hold a public hearing — the first it will have held in almost a year — regarding super PAC regulation.
In 2012 the commission provided much needed clarity on issues such as internet fundraising and texting contributions. Important work still needs to be done to determine:
- Whether a super PAC can use candidate footage, or a candidate can fundraise for a super PAC, and that super PAC still remain independent;
- If the "magic words" cited in Buckley v. Valeo are the only ones subject to regulation as express advocacy;
- Are there any statutory standards to prosecute independent groups who produce ads that are not "coordinated" under FEC regulations;
- Can a super PAC be run by a candidate's past campaign staff or family members?
The FEC's first and only act in 2013 has been to raise contribution limits to $2,600 for individuals and $123,200 in aggregate. Are we to understand that the FEC's priority is to increase spending, not regulate it?1,833 signatures
Will the FEC acknowledge the deeply rooted corruption that grows along both sides of the aisle, and call for a hearing to discuss the regulation of candidate-specific super PACs?
In response to our discussion on the last monthly call about how useful it is to have resources readily available for posters, handouts, etc, we've taken a first crack at revamping the "Resources" section of the website.
I know several of you have developed some really cool resources that you've used in actions you've led, from which others would greatly benefit being able to access. In light of that, if you could please send those and any other suggestions/links for resources we might include, it would be awesome if you could send them along to email@example.com.
Hi all, here are the notes from our call. As we discussed on the call, if you could record some of your actions here, that would be awesome!STREET TEAM CALL - 1/28Rebecca (NY)
- Direct action in Times Sq with iceberg signs
- made check infographics, dropped throughout street for people to find (will post)
- six people
- Times Sq is a great place to get visibility, hard to have conversations
- Adding sticks helped with use of posters
- Checks were more effective than posters because of prolonged engagement
Rootstrikers is a national non-profit organization and community challenging the corruption that cripples our government. We work across the movement to build and share tools that make it easy for anyone to recognize this signal threat to our Republic.
Citizens all across the country have used our resources to understand corruption and fight for real, lasting reform. A gift today is an investment in the future of Rootstrikers as a place to collaborate, share, and learn, and in the future of an anti-corruption movement with more Rootstrikers.
(In the meantime, if you find yourself continuing to have brilliant thoughts about money in politics or actions protesting the corrupting influence thereof, definitely continue to post on this page — 2013 will be a year of action, so we need all the creative ideas we can collect!)
The voucher systems proposed by both the AACA and the GDA rely on candidates to voluntarily accept lower limits on the contributions they can receive -- $500 in the former case and $100 in the latter. Why should we believe that federal candidates will opt in to these systems? Doesn't the failure of the current system of public financing for presidential elections warrant our skepticism of opt-in systems?
An opt-in voucher system may incentivize more grassroots candidates to run, but it doesn't incentivize big-money candidates to convert to small-dollar campaigns. And as long as there's less than 100% participation, the big-money candidates who don't opt-in will wield either a 5-to-1 or 25-to-1 fundraising advantage. How do we curb this?