Contributions and other gifts from lobbyists and special interests to public servants are bribes.
Without Campaign Finance Reform no other meaningful reform is possible.
Overturning the Citizen’s United decision by the US Supreme Court would only be a mere fraction of what’s necessary to reform our broken campaign finance system.
Public trust in government is at an all-time low. There’s a widespread belief that our political and economic system is rigged and politicians listen more to their donors than voters.
All elections are rigged by the money masters who own your choice of indentured lawmakers. Under our money-rigged system, it takes huge advertising budgets to catch the attention of the average voter. That means, the wealthy influence peddlers get to choose your choice of candidates and the voters with a choice of the least-worst candidate. Does this sound familiar?
Distrust in government has resulted in voter apathy. Why bother voting when money in politics has left citizens powerless to control their government? Voter disengagement leaves the foxes guarding the chicken coop, but voting for the money-chosen candidate is just as futile. When a majority of eligible voters don’t vote, the winner will only have a plurality of eligible votes and no mandate of the people. Yet, the money-chosen winner will claim to have the consent of the people and a mandate to seize of political power by economic power.
As a result, lobbyists today write ninety percent of the bills at the Minnesota Legislature. Lobbyists buy, sell and rent politicians, including staffers and offer them revolving door lobbying jobs when they leave their public jobs. In fact, once a politician or staffer accepts an offer to work for the lobbyists, and before they’re officially hired, the lobbyist knows they’re already on the job working for free.
For example, Democratic State Rep. Ann Lenczewski, the chair of the powerful Taxes Committee, went through the revolving door to become a lobbyist for a law firm who sells her lobbying expertise to at least 16 businesses and municipalities. Her company funnels money to every US House & Senate member from Minnesota including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. See https://cfb.mn.gov/reports-and-data/viewers/lobbying/lobbyists/3525/2017.2/ and https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?id=D000027256.
The Grassroots Party proposes these 17 ways to restore citizen-owned elections, end conflicts of interest and political bribery?
- The Grassroots Party proposes this simple law to remove virtually all private money from politics, “No candidate or party shall buy time or space in the media. All time and space in the media shall be free of charge to all candidates and parties and elections shall be no longer than eight weeks”.
- Make it illegal for political candidates to accept contributions in connection with an election from a lobbyist.
- Prohibit lobbyists from bundling campaign contributions.
- Close the revolving door—elected officials and their staff must be barred for life from working for any company, organization, or association which lobbies the government. In addition, it should be illegal to get around lobbying by saying you’re a consultant who introduces an official to an individual at their law firm who tries to lobby them.
- Lobbyists should be banned from gift giving as well—Instead of limiting the amount that lobbyists may spend on wining and dining elected officials and their staff; eliminate it entirely. No finger food, no snacks, no hot dogs. Nothing.
- We need to eliminate any contribution by those lobbying the government, participating as contractors, or otherwise financially benefiting from public funds, be it a company, a union, an association, a law firm, or an individual, if you get money or perks from the government or public officials, you should not be able to give a single red cent.
- Prohibit fundraising during legislative hours.
- End Gerrymandering —Transfer authority over redistricting to an independent, fully transparent commission that must follow strict guidelines that eliminate human bias. Provide them with tools like the open source computer program called, “Auto-Redistrict. Simply open a “shapefile” load in census and election data (if not already included in the shapefile), and hit “Go”. See http://autodistrict.org.
- Public Campaign Financing – Citizen Owned Elections require public financing to counteract the wealthy influence peddlers. Every registered voter a should be allotted a $75 credit tied to inflation with the Campaign Finance Board they can use to make a contribution to candidates or parties that agree to fundraise only from small donors. Under Minnesota’s current Political Contribution Refund (PCR) program, donors must first give $50 before they can be refunded $50 which can take three weeks or more, not to mention the postage. Poor voters can’t afford to give or wait and why should they? Let them give online at a candidate or party’s website and give them a computer application from the Campaign Finance Board where they can give online using a secure username and password. Note: That if the PCR had been tied to inflation in 1990 it would be worth $100.00 today.
- Automatically register eligible citizens to vote. Citizens can always decline to be registered.
- Eliminate Dark Money—Disclose the Donors—meaning stop donors from hiding behind non-profit secret-money groups like 501(C)(4) (social welfare) 501(C)(5) (unions) and 501(C)(6) (trade association) groups. These groups flood elections with money funneled through secret donors that spend money directly to influence elections and make unlimited contributions to super PAC’s which run ads to elect and defeat candidates.
- Free advertising on Public Television and Radio for all candidates. Fully fund Public Television and Radio so that private money cannot influence it’s news and programming. Demand truth from public media.
- Mandate free or reduced cost advertising on Private Television and Radio. Despite the fact that the airwaves are the public domain, the largest broadcasters pay nothing for it. The least they could do is provide a public service for the privilege of not losing their licenses.
- Free space in public buildings or subsidized space for political party headquarters or local branches.
- Free access to public stadiums and arenas for rallies.
- Free or subsidized campaign mailings
- Provide access to political debates by ballot qualified candidates so pressing issues don’t go undebated; like campaign finance reform.
Notes: See 01-20-2010 City Pages, “The 10 Most Influential Lobbyists in Minnesota” http://www.citypages.com/news/the-10-most-influential-lobbyists-in-minnesota-6724069.