How do we stop fake No Corporate Money candidates?

A supporter of my California Controller 2014 campaign recently sent me an email that boiled down to the question, “How do we stop fake No Corporate Money candidates?” Here is my answer, followed by the question as he put it in his email.

A working draft of the pledge — and we will finalize it in concert with other allies —  addresses PACs:

I, ________________, oppose the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the 1% and their corporations. I pledge to the people of California that as a candidate and an elected official, I will accept money from individual people and public funding only and no corporate money in any form, such as lobbyists, developers, and Political Action Committees (PACs).

From the No Corporate Money (NCM) campaign perspective…
The campaign plans to ensure that listed NCM candidates adhere to the spirit of the pledge. There are a growing number of websites that provide information about campaign contributions. Those websites are great, and what the NCM Campaign intends to do is inspire candidates and voters to ACT on that information, not just KNOW it.  

From the corporate perspective…
Corporations do not want to spread the word that no-corporate-money candidates even exist, and so they certainly will not finance  NCM campaigns. The NCM name is so blatant that corporations know it undermines their power.

From the candidate perspective…
It’s perfect that last night Eduardo Martinez was at an NCM gathering. He is running for Richmond City Council and one of the stalwarts of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the organization that has made such a difference to the city of Richmond, CA — as well as the nation and even internationally. Eduardo said now that Gayle McLaughlin (registered Green Party) will be termed out as mayor, other mayoral candidates have come to the RPA for endorsement. When RPA tells them they have to pledge they will take no corporate money the candidates say they don’t understand why they would have to do such a pledge. RPA’s answer is along the lines of, “The fact that you don’t understand is exactly why you won’t get our endorsement.”

I hope this helps. My vision is that at some point it will seem obvious to people. “Well, does the candidate take corporate money? If they do, I know they won’t represent me. If they win, I won’t win.” And people will find out who’s running with no corporate money, and vote for them. And if there is no one, they will run and/or encourage others to run. That’s what the No Corporate Money Campaign is all about.

NOTES

The following contains the questions and information as emailed to me. Your comments and feedback are also welcome!

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission + Speechnow.org v. FEC,  
Corporations can promote (with money) any candidate any amount as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidate . . . or can they?   “However, it is legal for candidates and Super PAC managers to discuss campaign strategy and tactics through the media”  

Therefore, if “No Corporate Money” looked like a killer issue for the candidate, he/she can claim that they don’t accept corporate donations while being supported with big corporate PAC money.    In other words the public won’t know who is getting elected by corporate money and therefore who not to vote for.   

I don’t expect the media to help the public figure out who is corporate sponsored as most media is corporate.   

I suspect you know all of this but I didn’t see Citizens United or Super Pacs mentioned at:
http://www.nocorporatemoneycampaign.org/

Have you an answer to the Super Pac issue?  I hope so, as I don’t.   

Super PACs    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Pac#Super_PACs

<SNIP> Super PACs, officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees,” may not make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties, but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size.[19]
Super PACs were made possible by two judicial decisions: the aforementioned Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and, two months later, Speechnow.org v. FEC, where the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that PACs that did not make contributions to candidates, parties, or other PACs could accept unlimited contributions from individuals, unions, and corporations (both for profit and not-for-profit) for the purpose of making independent expenditures. The result of the Citizens United and SpeechNow.org decisions was the rise in 2010 of a new type of political action committee, popularly dubbed the “super PAC”
<SNIP>

“No Corporate Money” vs. Jerry Brown

The year 2013 is beginning, and the new “No Corporate Money” campaign is beginning as well, aiming for the California primary on June 3, 2014. We’re planning to win.

We have not yet decided whether to run a candidate for Governor. Jerry Brown will undoubtedly run and win in 2014. Although many Californians do know the behind-the-scenes Jerry, many do not.

We will run to win in other offices. We will ensure that the people of California can pressure Jerry Brown in a way his cronies never will.

Jerry Brown is the most powerful political figure in California, and it’s hard to even think of who comes in second. If Brown used his power on the side of regular people – the 99% – he would have a much better record than he has. Even his claims of victories ring hollow when you look behind the curtain and see how much better the victories could have been.

The good news is that when you look behind the curtain you also see: people can pressure Jerry Brown!

The Tax-The-Rich movement moved Brown. In 2011 his tax idea was to continue the Schwarzenegger taxes, including a 1 percent sales tax increase among other regressive taxes. In early 2012 Brown’s first tax initiative had a smaller sales tax increase of 1/2 percent and some faintly progressive income tax hikes. By March 2012, Brown was forced to change his initiative, further reducing the sales tax component to 1/4 percent (should have been zero) and proposing somewhat more progressive income tax hikes.

Jerry Brown’s problem with his first tax initiative was that some unions did not toe the line with him, notably the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). They gathered signatures for an opposing tax initiative, the Millionaires Tax, which raised more money, increased income tax rates on brackets over a million dollars, and had no sales tax increase. The CFT was working with the Tax-The-Rich movement that included Occupy activists especially Occupy Education students who had just completed the March 1st to 5th actions across the state; democratize-the-unions activists; organizations like California Calls, ACCE and the Courage Campaign; and independent political parties like the Green Party and Peace and Freedom.

Polls showed that the real Millionaires Tax was beating Jerry Brown’s tax measure. Jerry Brown decided to compromise. He called in the union leaders, weakened their proposal, beefed his up a little, and halved the sales tax increase again, to 1/4 percent. And although it no longer fit for the compromise Proposition 30, he kept the name “Millionaires Tax.”

California can pressure Sacramento by essentially electing the cabinet. The “No Corporate Money” campaign will run candidates in the executive seats around the Governor, especially seats without incumbents: Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Controller. We will run for legislative seats and local offices too.

We want to win; we plan to win, and we can win. California now has a unique chance with the new Top Two primary system. Historically “Top Two” favored incumbents and highly funded (meaning corporate-funded) candidates; ironically it also affords voters an opportunity to crack this system. Any voter can vote for any candidate regardless of political party, and so toss the much-promoted idea of “spoiling elections” out of your head. Your vote for a “No Corporate Money” candidate does not help the candidate you dislike the most.

We – the people – can win.

“No Corporate Money” Campaign

How California can beat the 1% – at their own game

California has a unique chance to shift the balance of power in our state. The 1% and their corporations now control our budgets and economy, schools and education, police and justice, and so much more, because they control the people who get elected into our government. This can change, and California can inspire the rest of the country. We have some good examples to inspire us.

Dramatic change has occurred in places as far away as South America and as close as Richmond, a city in the S.F. Bay Area. People combined strong social movements with strong electoral movements. When people in South America – especially the young and impoverished – began taking to the streets and voting in much greater numbers than ever before, the 1% lost big. The disparity of wealth began to decrease, and education, healthcare, and people’s participation in their governments began to improve.

Closer to home, Richmond now has a mayor and city council members who stand with the 99%. Community activists ten years ago were tired of running into a brick wall at city hall, and organized to combine activism with elections (see RichmondProgressiveAlliance.net). Greens, Democrats, and others ran for office, all agreeing to take no corporate money, and they began to win. Chevron, the largest corporation in California, put a million dollars into three races in 2010, and lost, lost, and lost. The “no corporate money” candidates won.

In California the rules of the game for state elections have now changed, seemingly for the worse, but inadvertently the new rules provide an opening for a backfire on the 1%.

In the “Top Two” primary system we now use for state offices, any voter can vote for any candidate regardless of political party. Only the top two candidates appear on the November ballot, even if they are from the same party. Historically, this system favored incumbents and highly funded candidates, and that’s exactly what happened in the first Top Two Primary in California in June 2012. But Top Two can backfire on the 1% when we create a critical mass of people who declare their intention to vote for candidates who take no corporate money.

You can help grow this movement. Join the No Corporate Money Campaign.

(1) Fill out the declaration, and mail it to Laura Wells, P.O. Box 10181, Oakland, CA 94610.

(2) Or, email your responses to the three checkboxes with your other information on the form to info@laurawells.org

(3) Spread the word and gather declarations!

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __ __ __

I DECLARE MY INTENTION TO ….         

[ ]  Participate in SOCIAL MOVEMENTS to ensure positive change

[ ] VOTE in upcoming elections, including the June 3, 2014 primary

[ ] Vote for candidates for state offices who DO NOT ACCEPT CORPORATE MONEY

Name ________________________________________________

VOLUNTEER? __________________

E-mail __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Phone (_____) ______-___________

Street Address  __________________________________________

City__________________________________________________

ZIP_________________________

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