Copy

Unite To Restore Democracy

We are in the midst of a critical struggle for the survival of American democracy. Big Money and special interests, backed by both the Democratic and Republican parties, are gaining increasing control of our government. They are not concerned with whether everyday Americans are fairly represented.

Big Money donors and special interests only want their interests to be the government’s primary focus when drafting legislation and implementing policy. Often these special interests actually draft the legislation themselves. Their lobbyists then present these bills to members of Congress over which they have undue influence  resulting from their very generous campaign contributions to pass into law. It’s a corrupt system which drowns out the voices and concerns of most Americans. The truth is, for the most part, our government does not represent us. 

There is only one way to stop this rapid march toward oligarchy and create a vibrant democracy in our country. That is for we, the people, to unite and demand that we be fairly represented in the halls of government. To achieve that goal, we must build a mass movement, one that would rival the 1960s anti-Vietnam War movement which lead to ending that war. 

Here in New Mexico, NMMOP (New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics) is laying the foundation for such a movement. We are developing a vision of what a truly representative government would look like. It would be a government that would:

  • Establish public financing for all federal, state and local elections. 
  • Enact a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to restore the authority and create the responsibility of government to impose reasonable limits upon political campaign contributions and expenditures and provide greater disclosure and transparency. 
  • Enact Lobbying reform at the federal, state and local levels so that all of us are fairly represented, and the “revolving door” between government and business is eliminated. 
  • Eliminate gerrymandering (i.e. rigging) of congressional and state representative districts so that every citizen’s vote counts and everybody is fairly and equally represented in Congress. 
  • Protect and enhance the right and ability to vote by eliminating tactics aimed at restricting voting, and establishing laws that would make it easier to register to vote and vote, restoring the Voters Rights Act of 1965 and more. 
  • Enact anti-corruption, ethics and conflict of interest laws that apply to federal, state and local executive officials, legislators and judges. 

If this is the kind of government you would like to have in our country, we urge you to join us. Together we can restore our democracy and reform our government into one that represents all of us. 


- Bruce Berlin
 
Six Days in D.C.: Reforming Democracy
 
NMMOP’s John House and Ishwari Sollohub attended the third American Promise National Citizen Leadership Conference from Friday, October 19 through Monday, October 21. It was a triumphant gathering of hundreds of citizen leaders and activists from almost every state in the nation. There was Renaldo Pearson, Democracy Spring organizer, who walked for 50 days and 700 miles from the site of Martin Luther King’s grave in Atlanta, Georgia, to the steps of the Capitol to protest corruption in America. There was Katey Fahey who organized thousands to get a new redistricting law passed in Michigan in 2018. There were Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning presidential biographer and actress/activist Deborah Winger, both members of the American Promise Advisory Board, and many more.
 
On Friday and Saturday, the conference offered inspirational speeches, presentations of well-deserved awards for outstanding leading activists, inciteful panel discussions and workshops, and fun time for meeting and getting together with other civic activists around the country and sharing experiences and strategies. The conference ended with Ishwari and me feeling overwhelmed and enthusiastic about what we had learned at the conference and excited to put ideas into practice back in New Mexico.
 
Monday morning, bright and early, American Promise sponsored a march from the steps of the Capitol to the Hart Senate office building to present New Hampshire’s state resolution in favor of the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reform campaign finance law to its U.S. Senators, making New Hampshire the 20th state to have done so. Flags of all 20 states, including the New Mexico State flag carried by Ishwari, flew alongside the U.S. flag as the group proudly made its way through the streets of the Capitol. After that, more than 120 of the conference attendees descended on the offices of their members of Congress to tell them that they want them to adopt the 28th Amendment and push for its adoption in the form of H.J.Res 2/S.J.Res. 51.
 
Ishwari and I stayed on two more days in D.C. after the conference and Lobby Day to finish the task of meeting with all of the members of the New Mexico delegation to Congress or their senior staff. In the next article, Ishwari will tell you how our visits went below. As much as I want to steal her thunder, I won’t. So, read on to find out!

-- John House
Busy Days on Capitol Hill
 
The Monday after American Promise’s National Citizen Leadership Conference (NCLC) in Washington, D.C. is always Lobby Day, when conference participants cover Capitol Hill with visits to their members of Congress (MOC).  John House and I had made appointments with the offices of all five New Mexico MOCs.  On Monday, October 21, we met with staff in the offices of Senator Martin Heinrich and Representatives Xochitl Torres Small and Deb Haaland. Fellow Santa Fean and founder of Fix It America, Steve Lipscomb, who also attended the NCLC, joined us for our meetings with staffers for Representatives Torres Small and Haaland.
 
John and I stayed in D.C. a couple of extra days in order to meet with Representative Ben Ray Lujan on Tuesday and attend a coffee for New Mexico constituents with Senator Tom Udall on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the coffee with Udall was cancelled, however, we were able to meet with senior staff from Senator Udall’s office.
 
John and I found each of our visits rewarding and encouraging. In each case, we began by expressing our gratitude for the MOC’s hard work he/she has done, citing important bills and resolutions he/she had sponsored, co-sponsored or otherwise supported.  Sens. Heinrich and Udall and Reps. Haaland and Lujan have already co-sponsored H.J.Res. 2, the version of the 28th Amendment resolution sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D FLA) and its mirror resolution sponsored by Sen. Udall in the Senate. Our request was for each of them to reach across the aisle to Republicans with whom they had successfully worked in the past and who would most likely support the resolution. In addition, we suggested that if their Republicans showed reluctance to signing on to the Democratic resolution, they invite them to consider writing their own versions of a 28th Amendment to reform campaign finance laws. For a 28th Amendment to ever pass in Congress, and then be ratified by States, there must be cross-partisan support. Getting that support is the current emphasis, and we wanted to encourage and help our MOCs do their part to expand support. We also asked again some of them who have yet to sign the American Promise 28th Amendment Candidate and Elected Official Pledge to do so.
 
To Representative Xochitl Torres Small, the only New Mexico MOC who has yet to sign on to H.J.Res. 2, we offered some compelling statistics from a 2018 Common Cause poll containing statistics pertaining directly to her district and showing strong constituent support for campaign finance reform, and once again encouraged her to co-sponsor the resolution.
 
All the meetings went very well and John and I both felt very positive about them afterwards. Of course, we found the personal meeting with Rep, Lujan and his chief of staff most exciting and uplifting. And we managed to take away a photo of us with Rep. Lujan as a souvenir!  During three of our meetings, the notion of a concerted effort to reach across the aisle elicited "light-bulb moments", where it was evident that we had gotten our MOC’s keen attention and even enthusiasm. Several times we heard, “We’ll look into that,” or, “[So and so] would be good to reach out to about that.”
 
I sent follow-up emails  to each MOC, and we look forward to continued follow up and collaboration with them to push the 28th Amendment forward. You can help by calling and/or emailing their offices in D.C., mention Ishwari's and my recent visits, and tell them that you want them to push hard to get the resolution adopted in their branches of Congress. To reach your MOCs, go here.
 
-- Ishwari Sollohub
 
John and Ishwari with former New Hampshire Republican State Senator Jim Rubens
Viki Harrison
A Long Time Coming: the New Mexico Ethics Commission
 
During her lively presentation to NMMOP and Indivisible Santa Fe members and others on Monday night, October 14, our guest speaker, Viki Harrison, Director of State Operations for Common Cause, explained how we finally got an ethics commission in New Mexico. It was by no means easy. It took over four decades during which time there were a dozen or more scandals and several high profile, elected officials deservedly spent time in jail. Here are some historical highlights: 
 
In 1992, then-Governor Bruce King convened his own Task Force to examine the need to enact laws aimed at ensuring ethical conduct. Many recommendations were enacted, including a prohibition against receiving gifts and new campaign reporting requirements.
After State Auditor and then State Treasurer Robert Vigil went to jail for extortion in 2006, Gov. Bill Richardson convened a task force on ethics reforms that also many important suggestions that were adopted. Campaign reporting statements were required to include more data and reports were required to also be filed in non-election years. Public financing was passed for the first time in 2007.

In 2010, State Senator Linda Lopez tried to pass an ethics bill that was so bad many legislators considered it “worse than nothing.”  Perhaps the worst element was a provision that subjected private citizens who filed an ethics complaint and then talked about it to penalties of up to $26,000, while the fine that could be imposed upon an official convicted of ethics violation could be fine only $10,000. Fortunately, it did not pass.

In 2016, Representative Jim Dines introduced an independent ethics commission bill with then-Representative Jeff Steinborn. It passed the House 50-10 but was so weakened by many amendments in the Senate Rules committee that Dines pulled the legislation from consideration with two days left in the session.

In 2017, the state legislature passed a constitutional amendment calling for an independent state ethics commission. Viki pointed out to the audience the importance of the specificity of the constitutional amendment.  It specified essential elements concerning the makeup of the commission and the powers it must be given. Had it not, the legislature could have possibly omitted them, diluting the commission’s powers and effectiveness. 
 
The ethics commission enabling bill, S. 668, implements a seven-member body. No more than three commissioners can come from the same party. One must be a retired judge. There are term limits.  complaints. Initially,  complaints are maintained confidentially, but once deemed not to be frivolous, complaints may be made public. Importantly, the commission has been given subpoena power.
 
The commission will begin its task on January 1, 2020. Hearings will be open to the public. NMMOP urges its members and followers to attend the hearings, to observe how the process works and to ensure that it does the job of overseeing the conduct of elected officials.

-- John House
Tabling with Steve Lipscomb at NCLC
Help Us Get the 28th Amendment Resolution Passed Across New Mexico and Other Important Projects!
 
NMMOP has written its own 28th Amendment Municipal Resolution for town, city and county governments in New Mexico to urge Congress to adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reform our campaign finance laws to allow the federal, state and local governments to effectively regulate money going into our elections. This is an important grassroots effort requiring the effort of people all across New Mexico who are tired of Big Money’s overwhelming influence over our elected officials.  U.S. history is full of examples when grassroots efforts like this resulted ultimately in major state and federal change. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote and the rights of interracial and gay couples to marry are a few examples of the efficacy of such grassroots efforts. 
 
NMMOP volunteers in Santa Fe worked to get the resolution passed unanimously by the Santa Fe City Council and the Board of County Commissioners of Santa Fe County. Now we want to take it around the state. But we cannot do it alone; we need your help! 
 
TWO WAYS TO HELP
 
ONE: Government officials rarely listen to or care about the opinions of persons who are not their own constituents. So, to take the resolution forward in your part of the state, we need people who live there—you your friends, and other people in your area who are tired of Big Money’s influence in our elections to tell your elected representatives that you want them to adopt the resolution.
 
On the NMMOP website, www.nmmop.org, are the Model Resolution (here) that can be adapted for use by any town, city or county in New Mexico and an explanation sheet (here) that explains why the resolution says what it says.  We can provide you with other helpful materials that you can use to persuade your officials to propose and adopt the resolution. We can provide you with strategies and advice.  We can help you see the resolution through the path towards adoption.  And you can feel the exhilaration of having participated in this extraordinary national grassroots effort (over 20 states and 800 towns, cities and counties across the nation have adopted similar resolutions)!  If you can help, contact Ishwari Solluhub at ishwarisollohub12@gmail.com to get started!
 
TWO: We know not everyone can help do the actual work required to push the resolution through in his or her area of the state. But you can help us and them by donating to NMMOP. There are lots of expenses that must be paid for to accomplish this mission and we do not have the funds to accomplish it all. Your generous donation will help make it happen.  So please donate to NMMOP by going clicking on the Donate button below or by mailing a check made out to New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics to:
 
New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics
P.O. Box 6701
Santa Fe, NM 87502
 
More Help Needed!

We also need more human and financial resources if we are going to be able to do all that we are doing: attending and speaking at important out of state conferences, writing state legislation to reform lobbying, researching and writing opinion pieces and white papers, speaking at out of town engagements, holding general meetings with terrific speakers, forming alliances with other organizations, lobbying our MOCs in Washington, D.C. and here in New Mexico, publishing through a number of traditional and social media, and more.

Thanks on behalf of all of us in NMMOP for your valued participation in this important fight for our democracy!
Forward to a Friend
Donate
Copyright © New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 6701 Santa Fe, NM 87501

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.


 






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics · P.O. Box 6701 · Santa Fe, Nm 87502 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp