CAMPUS HIGHLIGHT…MONEY IN POLITICS UPDATES…MONEY ON MY MIND...WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH...APRIL WEEK OF ACTION…MAPLIGHT...FACTS YOU CAN USE
CAMPUS HIGHLIGHT: SUNY Geneseo
DMers at the Geneseo campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) continue to live up to the high standards first set when the chapter started six years ago.
Last fall, Democracy Matters at Geneseo reached out to other campus groups including Occupy Wall Street and NY Peace Action, creating a unified effort to educate and mobilize their campus. With meetings, discussions, lectures, outreach to other groups and campus actions, together they had an enormous impact.
This semester they again hit the ground running. They began by showing a “very cool” documentary, "The One Percent," that explores the growing US income gap (available at Netflix and YouTube). DMers regularly table with information and suggested actions that students can take. For example they organized a successful “candy and condoms for callers” tabling action. It involved Geneseo students’ calling their state Senator’s office to urge support for public financing in New York State. Now they are concentrating on gathering petition signatures to take with them on their upcoming visits to his office.
Congratulations to Kate Harlin, DM campus coordinator and Geneseo student activists for their great work!
Check out Democracy Matters “Tabling Tips!”
MONEY IN POLITICS: UPDATES FROM NEW YORK and RHODE ISLAND
New York: A new campaign finance reform organization, the New York Leadership for Accountable Government (NYLEAD) - composed of civic, business and philanthropic leaders - strongly endorsed Governor Cuomo’s recent call for public financing. The group is part of the growing coalition of over 100 organizations, including Democracy Matters, working for the reform.
In response, a New York Times editorial also endorsed a NY public campaign financing system: “New York is a shamefully easy place for a state politician to raise money. Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows this all too well and has repeatedly promised to reform the state’s scandalously lax campaign financing laws. As governor, he has the obligation to end this corrupting mess, as even some of the wealthiest New Yorkers [in NY LEAD] made clear in a press conference.”
Rhode Island: Emily Koo from Brown University’s Democracy Matters chapter reports that Rhode Island has moved closer to revealing who is influencing political campaigns in the state. In 2010 alone, Rhode Island was flooded with $1.9 million in independent political expenditures. But recently both Governor Chafee and House Speaker Gordon Fox endorsed a “Transparency in Political Spending Act” that would mandate disclosing previously unregulated political expenditures. Brown DMers have played a critical role in the R.I. fight for disclosure. They agree with the statement of R.I. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, a bill endorser: “Campaign finance disclosure is absolutely vital to the health of our democracy."
MONEY ON MY MIND
Can progressives learn anything from the Tea Party? In this month’s column, Jay Mandle discusses how grassroots organizing has made the Tea Party a powerful force in American politics. Citing an important new book, “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” he concludes that there are indeed lessons to be learned.
Read the full article and explore other issues of MOMM.
DEEPENING DEMOCRACY: CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
In March we celebrate Women’s History Month. On Democracy Matters campuses the emphasis is on women in politics today and in the future. Both historically and today, women are badly underrepresented as elected officials. Even now only 16.8% of the members of Congress are women. One of the biggest reasons is that women have difficulty raising enough money to compete for elected positions.
But with a public campaign financing option like those in Maine, Arizona, Connecticut, New York City and elsewhere - where money is no longer an obstacle - women do much better. They are more likely to decide to run for office and can more effectively compete. And so during March, Democracy Matters chapters reach out to campus groups, to discuss women in politics, how the movement for public financing empowers women, and how together we can build a more inclusive democracy.
For more information, go to the Center for Women and Politics.
PLANNING for DM’S 2012 APRIL WEEK OF ACTION
Planning has already begun on DM campuses to make this spring’s “DM Week of Action” the biggest yet. This year our annual “Week of Action“ will be April 16-20. DM chapters organize a full week of events and outreach – films, lectures, discussions, op-eds, their own home-made YouTube videos, petition signing campaigns, and visits to their representatives - to drive home the message that big money is destroying our democracy. And, as always, that there is a real, practical, legislative solution - public campaign financing. The week of action will focus on recruiting even more students to join the fight for Fair Elections!
Read the Week of Action Outline.
MapLight SHINES BRIGHTLY
MapLight, a terrific money in politics website, now allows users to see how money in politics affects specific issues. Their new "Topic" pages aggregate all their research related to specific areas of interest.
Here's what you can find on each MapLight Topic page:
- the latest legislative activity related to a topic (with RSS feed)
- the latest relevant research findings from MapLight (with RSS feed)
- the related companies and industries that have contributed the most
- the legislators who have sponsored the greatest number of related bills
Check it out!
FACTS YOU CAN USE
Candidates’ frantic race to raise ever more private money to fund their campaigns is unremitting. Though ideas rather than money should be the main focus of election campaigns, there is enormous interest in campaign fundraising because so much depends on it. Success in building a war chest can mean the difference between candidates’ winning and losing. So based on the most recent FEC reports (released December 31st, 2011), here’s a brief summary of what we know about the huge amount of private money already flowing directly into campaign coffers:
Barack Obama - $125.2 million
Mitt Romney - $56.4 million
Ron Paul - $25.9 million
Newt Gingrich - $12.6 million
Rick Santorum - $2.1 million
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) - $23.6 million
Robert Mendenez (NJ) - $11.8 million
Bill Nelson (FL) - $10.4 million
Diane Feinstein (CA) - $10.4 million
Bob Casey (PA) - $7.6 million
Allen West (FL) - $5.7 million
Dave Camp (MI) - $2.5 million
Steny Hoyer (MD) - $2.1 million
Peter Roskam (IL) - $1.7 million
Jeb Hensarling (TX) - $1.6 million
To honor our 2011 activists, we list 10 Democracy Matters chapters in each E-News:
St. Lawrence University...St. Michael's College...St. Olaf College...SUNY Geneseo...Syracuse University...Union College...University of Massachusetts...University of Minnesota...University of Science and Arts...University of Wisconsin River Falls...
More Campus Chapters.