A Deeper Focus


Citizen’s Congress – moving the mountain a little bit

The manifesto of the Citizens Congress (CC) is to find non-partisan unity and establish consensus goals with people across the country to remove the corrupting influence of money in elections.  I am thrilled to tell you that June 2nd – 5th we made a great start.

This issue of money in politics resonates with people and our first night at Cal-Poly’s Spanos Theatre was standing room only with over 450 people in attendance. Over the next three days about 35 people from around the country from New Hampshire to Missouri to Washington discussed the variety of reform options available. These include eleven different constitutional amendments, three separate statutory reforms, regulatory rule changes, a national convention, better messaging, a code of ethics pledge for candidates, and a national event.  Incredibly, after a looking meticulously at each of the tools available to us to effect reform, we were able to come to near unanimous agreement on our approaches. Here is the summary of our conclusions:

1)     We support the Udall Amendment to the Constitution.  It is scheduled for a vote in the Senate in September.  Rep. McGovern has a very similar bill in the House of Representatives but it is stalled in committee and not scheduled for a vote.

2)     We support the Government by the People Act in the House of Representatives.  This is a public financing bill proposed by Rep. John Sarbanes and is co-sponsored by 155 Representatives in the House.

3)     We require rule changes in the Federal Election Committee, the Securities and Exchange Committee and the IRS.  Rules should require publicly traded companies to disclose campaign donations, give subpoena power to the FEC and establish ways to break partisan paralysis to insure proper investigations of campaign corruption. There needs to be more specific limits to social welfare organizations as classified by the IRS.  Trevor Potter has agreed to help draft these letters.

4)     The group supported an Article V national convention to propose change to the constitution.

5)     They agreed to the need for a national event that galvanizes the public as did the civil rights movement.  A variety of ideas are being considered, including a multi-state, 20 city roadshow.

6)     YOU Count! End Moneypolitic$ will be our new messaging catchphrase that we hope to establish as part of the political lexicon.

7)     The Citizens Congress adopted the following candidate code of ethics. To gain our support the candidate must agree to:

* Make campaign finance a primary component of their issues platform.
* Not take any funds from any industries that they regulate.
* Make full disclosure of all cumulative donations of $200 or more.  E-file Senate reports.
* Make the “You Count – End Moneypolitic$” standards in campaign messages/ads.
* Don’t take money from lobbyists.
* Emphasize small donations

8)     It is important that we create a national “clearinghouse” website to access reform efforts around the country.

We also have an important role to play here in our state that will help at the national level as well.  California may have the chance to vote in November on whether we, as a state, demand a national constitutional amendment (http://legiscan.com/CA/bill/SB1272/2013)  SB 1272  has passed through the appropriations committee and needs approval in the assembly before it goes on our November ballot.  Please contact Assemblyman Achadjian and let him know of your desire that he support this bill.

Over the next few months we will be canvassing the country to learn of nearly 1000 federal candidates positions on finance reform and their willingness to honor our code of ethics.  We will be testing ideas for a national event.  We will be updating our website to disseminate the decisions of our CC and information regarding candidates.

If you would like to see reform happen, these efforts take time and effort and we can’t do it alone.  We need your help physically and financially.  You can contact us through our website and send us an email or donate. To restore our democracy we first need to take ownership of it and that means investing by DOING something.

William Ostrander – Director

Citizens Congress

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