House committee votes Tuesday on whether to make NH 17th state to call for a Constitutional Amendment overturning Citizens United
WHAT: NH leaders and concerned citizens turn out to urge House Legislative Administration committee to pass SB 136 (unanimously approved by the Senate), which calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
WHEN: Tuesday, October 13 at 9:30am (vote scheduled for 10:30am)
WHERE: Legislative Office Building, Room 104
WHO: Members of the Legislative Administration Committee including Chairman Rep. Richard Hinch, House Majority Leader Rep. Jack Flanagan, and House Minority Leader Rep. Steve Shurtleff
Leaders and activists from Open Democracy, NH Rebellion, and allied groups
Concord, NH - A group of New Hampshire leaders from both political parties is calling on state lawmakers to put an end to endless spending by billionaires and special interest groups in elections, a practice it believes is undermining American democracy.
The Open Democracy Advisors support a comprehensive campaign finance reform agenda that includes repealing the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, full disclosure of secret outside spending, and small-donor citizen funded elections. One part of that agenda, a bill instructing Congress to overturn Citizens United, is scheduled for a committee vote in the NH House on Tuesday.
"Citizens United has been an all-out disaster for democracy," said Betty Tamposi, former Assistant Secretary of State under President Bush and an Open Democracy Advisor. "We teach our kids that the size of your wallet shouldn't determine your standing as a citizen, but thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court and an intransigent Congress, the opposite is true today. We call on our state representatives to instruct Congress to overturn Citizens United by passing SB 136."
"There is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections," added John Broderick, the former Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court and an Open Democracy Advisor. "Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people."
On Tuesday, the House Legislative Administration Committee will hold a long-anticipated vote on SB 136, the bipartisan bill to study the effects of Citizens United on New Hampshire elections and weigh the various constitutional amendments proposed in Congress. The bill clearly states "the need for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire's ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment." In March, the State Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent.
Tamposi, Broderick, and ten other New Hampshire leaders from across the political spectrum are part of Open Democracy, the nonpartisan nonprofit founded by legendary reformer Doris "Granny D" Haddock in 2009. Open Democracy and allied groups have campaigned actively to translate public anger over money-in-politics corruption into positive action for reform, with a special focus on the 2016 presidential primary currently under way. As a result of their efforts, 69 New Hampshire towns have passed warrant articles at town meeting calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and some 12,000 Granite Staters have echoed the call through petitions.
In January 2014 and 2015, hundreds of concerned citizens marched over 200 miles in frigid temperatures across the state to protest big money corruption as part of Open Democracy's NH Rebellion campaign. The Rebellion has led more than a dozen walks and logged 30,000 miles throughout New Hampshire since 2014, with an eye to making money in politics reform the leading issue in the upcoming presidential election. Over 500 citizens rebels have volunteered to question the presidential candidates about reform; the resulting candidate statements and videos are publicly available at www.Questionr.us.
The reforms backed by Open Democracy enjoy widespread public support across the aisle, according to numerous polls. The latest October 2015 Bloomberg poll found that 78 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Republicans want to overturn Citizens United, while only 17 percent support for the ruling.
"This is not a liberal issue or a conservative issue – it's an American issue," said Dan Weeks, executive director of Open Democracy and leader of the NH Rebellion. "We are not simply asking our elected representatives to vote for SB 136; we are demanding that they heed their constituents' demands and restore equal citizenship for all."