Friday, January 28, 2011

[PDI] Fwd: House votes to end presidential public financing system;

FYI see the email below about the latest action taken by the GOPers
running the House of Representatives in DC. There are no real surprises just a
continued concern about the future funding of elections.

Don Kirchenberg

Sent: 1/28/2011 10:45:39 A.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: House votes to end presidential public financing system; Senate and
White House opposes bid / Reform priority news

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Hi Don,

Welcome to the Midwest Democracy Network's twice-monthly e-newsletter!
Please email with items you'd like to see in this space
( This edition includes: State Reform News and Reform
Priority Resources.

House votes to end presidential public financing system; Senate and White
House opposes bid
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted, along party lines, to
end the presidential public financing system. The Senate is not likey to

"This is an attempt to finish the job that the Supreme Court started with
the Citizens United decision," Senator Charles Schumer, a New York
Democrat and chairman of the Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over campaign
finance legislation, told _Bloomberg_
) . "It would bust one of the last dams protecting our election
system from an uncontrolled flood of special-interest money."

Even after President Obama completely opted out of public financing in the
2008 presidential election, the White House opposes a Republican-backed
bill that would end the system. (Something he said he would not do in the
answer to a _Midwest Demcracy Network questionnaire_
) .)

Eliminating it, the White House said, would "force many candidates into an
endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on
the issues" the _Washington Post reported_
) .

The bill would suspend the program that allows voters to donate $3 to the
presidential campaign fund. _According to Politico_
) , Republicans claim ending the program would save
approximately $617 million over 10 years. The program, started in 1976, gives
voters an option to direct $3 to the presidential campaign fund . The
donations don't reduce a taxpayer's tax refund. Eliminating the program would
save about $617 million over 10 years, Republicans say.

_The system is short on money_
though, with only 7.3 percent of Americans volunteered to donated to the
fund in 2010, down from 1980's high of 28.7 percent.

The Presidential Election Campaign Fund "is the very definition of
frivolous Washington spending," Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole said, and "it's not
a good sign that the Democrats are squealing about cutting a program only 7
percent of Americans support."

Democracy21, a group that works to eliminate the undue influence of big
money in American politics, counterst that the tax checkoff is not a poll
-- and _reports_
( that actual
polls have shown public support for the presidential public financing system .

States continue to feel recession's impact
A _report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities_
) shows 44 states and the District of Columbia
are projecting budget deficits totaling $125 billion for the 2012 fiscal

A number of governors have responded to the upcoming fiscal year by
creating massive cuts to state services on top of cuts already made since the
current recession.

Read the full MDN article _here_


REDISTRICTING | Minnesota | Illinois | Ohio

Focus should not be on partisanship, but people
MALDEF, along with other civil rights and civic engagement organizations,
issued a statement regarding the recently released reapportionment data,
stating the redistricting process centers around communities and not
political parties. All communities should feel welcome to participate in their
redistricting process, which must comply with the Federal Voting Act.

Read the full release at _the MDN website_
) .

Lawsuit filed as Minnesota's redistricting process gets underway
A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Minnesota's congressional
and legislative political boundaries are out of sync with new population
information, according to the _Minneapolis Star Tribune_
) .

The lawsuit, filed by a handful of Minnesota voters, asks election
officials to not hold the 2012 elections based on those boundaries. If legislators
fail to retool the boundaries by the end of the session, the plaintiffs
ask the court to order the parties to submit proposed legislative and
congressional plans to the court for consideration.

_Quinn can give voters voice in redistricting_
) - Rockford Register Star
_Will Ohio Republicans be fair in congressional redistricting?_
) - The Youngstown Vindicator

CAMPAIGN FINANCE | Illinois | Ohio | Michigan | Minnesota | National

Large donations in weeks before limits took effect in Illinois
In the days leading up to the effective date of the campaign contribution
limits in Illinois, there was a flurry of large contributions that would
have been over the limits on Jan. 1.

The _Illinois Campaign for Political Reform_
) found almost $13 million in donations to political
committees that were made in the final days before limits took effect. These
donations could not have been made in January. But the committees that received
this money can spend the money now, and into the future.

_Illinois Board of Election says computer fix is on the way_
) - ICPR

Citizens United ruling still dividing
On today's one-year anniversary of the controversial U.S. Supreme Court
ruling giving corporations and labor unions greater rein to spend money on
behalf of campaigns, Ohio Rep. Jay Goyal, D-Mansfield, _plans to introduce
( to ban businesses
that get state contracts from making campaign contributions with corporate

Catherine Turcer, director of Ohio Citizen Action's money-in-politics
project, said she'd rather see the provisions enacted into state law.

Ohio Citzen Action: Lobbyists rule campaigns through contributions
More than half of Ohio's campaign money raised by legislators in 2010 came
from lobbyist, an Ohio Citizen Action study found.

_But the most concerning numbers reported from "_
) _Lobbyists – Affluence & Influence_
) " are the 90 lobbying firms that contributed
$138,235 to statewide and legislative candidates, the $776,287 contributed by
contract lobbyists, the $1,047,661 contributed by law firms specializing
in government relations and the $383,854 contributed by contract lobbyists
associated with law firms.

"What rules the day are not the gifts. What rules the day are campaign
contributions," Catherine Turcer, director of Citizen Action's
Money-In-Politics, told_ The Columbus Dispatch_
) .

Read the full MDN post _here_
( .

_Report: Lobbyists largest statehouse contributors_
) - Cincinnati Enquirer
_Should lobbyists be off limits to state budget writers?_
) - Hamilton Journal-News
_Time to test voters in Ohio?_
- esrati

ABA task force report recommends changes to federal lobbying laws
_A Task Force_
( on Federal
Lobbying Laws, organized by the_ American Bar Association's Section of
Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice_
) , is recommending _changes to federal lobbying laws_
) that would broaden disclosure required by
those involved in lobbying campaigns, address fundraising participation by
lobbyists and strengthen enforcement of current law.

GOP House leaders see corporate donations surge
The new Republican leaders in the House have received millions of dollars
in contributions from banks, health insurers and other major business
interests, which are pressing for broad reversals of Democratic policies that
affect corporations, according to disclosure records and interviews, the
_Washington Post reported_
( .

Reinventing Michigan politics
Michigan Campaign Finance Network Executive Director _Rich Robinson's
column in The Center for Michigan's newsletter_
) calls for increased accountability in campaign contributions
to the state Supreme Court.

"Transparency and accountability are conservative values and they are
progressive values," Robinson wrote. "Transparency and accountability have
become unknown ideals in our politics … We'll transform our culture when we
have transparent and accountable politics – not a day sooner."

MCCL sues to stop Minnesota campaign finance disclosures
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life is_ appealing to a federal appeals
( the state Supreme Court
's decision_ last November_
to not hear a case that would rewrite Minnesota's campaign finance laws.

MCCL lawyer James Bopp, Jr. argued the reporting requirements currently in
place for corporations that wish to make political expenditures are "
burdensome and onerous." The solution, Bopp proposed, would be for corporations
contributing to campaigns to file a one page report once.

Read the full MDN post _here_

ELECTION LAW & VOTING RIGHTS | Wisconsin | Michigan | Minnesota

LWVWI to legislators: Throw out voter ID bill
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund is calling on state
legislators to reject a_ new bill_
) requiring voters to provide a state-issued photo ID.

"The claim that voter ID will save the state from widespread voter fraud
is preposterous. Illegal voting is exceedingly rare in Wisconsin, and no one
can point to a single case of impersonation of another voter,"_ said
Andrea Kaminski, director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin_
) .

"There is no such thing as a free voter ID. There are significant on-going
costs for state and local governments, as well as indirect costs for
citizens who apply for the ID," Kaminski said.

For more information, read the _full MDN post_
) .

_State should not change voting rules_
) - The LaCrosse Tribune
_Voter ID a burden, not a solution_
) - The LaCrosse Tribune
_Voter ID fixes nonexistent problem_
) - The LaCrosse Tribune
_Parisi is right about voter ID scam_
) - The Cap Times
_Yes, we need voter ID. Let me list the ways_
) - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
_Voting 'reform' makes already-unpopular activity more difficult_
) - Wisconsin State Journal
_Fast-tracking voter ID legislation not the answer_
) - Greenbay Press Gazette

Michigan Supreme Court elections need transparency
A_ Detroit News Editorial_
implores state lawmakers to tighten campaign-finance regulations on Michigan
Supreme Court elections to improve transparency.

One example of a push for further transparency is a task force set up by
Justice Marilyn Kelly meant to uncover failings in the judicial election

Find out how Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver's plan to remove
political parties from the judicial nomination process could boost interest
groups' influence on elections at _MDN_
) .

Minnesota House Republicans announce push for voter ID
Barely a week into the legislative session, House Republicans introduced a
plan Thursday that is likely to draw battle lines with the DFL minority –
requiring photo identification for Minnesota's voters, the _Minneapolis
Star Tribune reported_
( .

FAIR & IMPARTIAL COURTS | National | Michigan

Thomas adds wife's employment to disclosure report
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has corrected financial disclosures
for the past 13 years that omitted his wife's employment, the _Associated
Press reported_
( .

"Common Cause is concerned about omissions in Justice Thomas's annual
financial disclosures," said _Common Cause President Bob Edgar_
) . "While researching potential conflicts of
interest in Citizens United, we discovered apparent gaps over seven years
in Justice Thomas's disclosures of his wife's earnings."

Common Cause alleged Justice Thomas failed to disclose his wife's income
from the Heritage Foundation for a period of at least five years.

For more information, visit _Gavel Grab_
) .

_Will new high court bring new reversals?_
) - Lansing State Journal


Illinois Lt. Gov. Simon "beyond gold" in transparency
The_ Illinois Campaign for Political Reform_
) stood proudly with Illinois' Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon as she
not only released her own financial statements, but issued a challenge to
other elected officials to offer detailed information on their finances.

"I want to lead by example and I want to inspire better government. Mostly
what I want to do is start a conversation about how we make this a
standard going forward," Simon told the_ Chicago Tribune_
) .

Read the full MDN post _here_
( .

_Simon pushes for transparency_
- The Daily Herald
_Illinois Lt. Gov. won't let lobbyists pick up her lunch tab_
) - St. Louis Dispatch


Don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions, comments or questions!

Take care,
Leah Rush
Executive Director
Midwest Democracy Network
312-335-1067 - fax

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