Can You Help Offset Misleading AFP Phone Calls?

Dear Blue NCers,

I need your help this afternoon and hope some of you can spare five minutes to call your NC Senator. Here's the story: a provision to expand Voter-Owned Elections to more Council of State races was included in ethics reform bill H-961 that cleared committee yesterday. Financing provisions specify the VOE programs would be paid for through very small (as in $5) increases in already existing fees imposed on entities doing business with Council of State offices. We expect this bill to come to a vote late this afternoon. However, despite the fact that taxes will not be used for the proposed VOE programs, Americans For Prosperity has unleashed their usual knee-jerk robocall campaign asking members to protest the VOE provision on the grounds of "not wanting their taxes to be raised for this purpose."

We need sane, rational, polite, thinking constituents to balance out this flood of phone calls with their own respectful calls in support of the VOE provisions. Please help us by calling 919-733-7928 and leaving a message for your state Senator saying you support H-961, especially the Voter-Owned Elections provision. If you aren't sure who to call, start here. Thanks SO MUCH if you can help!! Would love it even more if you spread the word to your friends and let me know you called so I can keep hope alive....

Comments

Made the call

VOE FTW

Alas, the battle has been lost this time:

Just received word that the Democratic Caucus voted to take the VOE provision out of the pending ethics bill after some of them received many phone calls from the opposition (it was a targeted effort). The bill will now go back to the J-1 Committee so the provision can be taken out. This means:

  • Using the cry, "I don't want my taxes used for this," a handful of North Carolinians were able to derail a program that used no tax money.
  • Under the guise of "This is just welfare for politicians," they were able to keep in place a system that provides special interests with over $1 BILLION a year in special tax breaks that ought to be going into our state coffers. (If that's not "welfare," I don't know what is.)

I'd like to be angry at the people who heeded the AFP and contacted their constituents to blindly repeat these false assumptions, but the truth is that they are inherently frightened people whose emotions are easily manipulated and they were once again duped into protecting the special interests of people with a hell of a lot more money than they have. They know not what they do.

Who I am angry at are the politicians who caved -- especially the so-called progressive ones -- and who let themselves be swayed by this kind of Alice in Wonderland reasoning. Shame on them all. So long as politicians respond to this kind of false rhetoric, the braying will continue to be tried... and work.

We can't stopped uninformed or willfully ignorant people from being whipped into a frenzy and objecting to new ideas based on false assumptions, but we can require a higher standard for our leaders. I would like to see that happen.

Thanks to ALL of you who made calls. I would love to hear from any of you who have ideas on how we can reach the people of NC with the message that we have a system that is broken and needs fixing, and that it's in our best financial and moral interests to fix it. I wish we could find a way that makes people pay attention without resorting to scare tactics and lies. It's a tough challenge. Ideas welcome!

As for VOE -- this will almost certainly kill the provision to expand VOE to more Council of State races, but there are some individual bills pending to expand it to Treasurer and to more local municipalities. If you want to help us advocate for those when the time comes, please sign up here.

Onward!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

An excellent question, Jake...

... and one I wish I knew the answer to, but only the people in that room do and I, alas, was working for a living at the time. What I did hear was that AFP targeted sbout six or seven moderate Democratic Senators in districts that were fairly conservative and those were the ones that backed down. (Rather optmistic of those reps to think the far right was going to vote for them for re-election under any circumstances, don't you think?!)

On top of that, comments made publicly afterward make me think our state senators are feeling tired, embattled and ready to go home before the you-know-wjat hits the fan -- always a recipe for ensuring the status quo remains the status quo.

If I learn more, I'll let you know.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

A few corrections

1. Fees are just another way of saying taxes. A fee increase on NC business is a tax increase on NC business which gets passed onto NC citizens.

2. Money is fungible. If you want to spend $3.8 million every cycle on these tax funded elections you are choosing not to spend that one something else such as education, roads, health care, etc.

3. The idea of allowing politicians to vote to give politicians tax money for their campaigns is about as ethical as Mike Easley.

This was a big win for NC citizens.

Huge steps backward

First of all, one must understand the way Voter-Owned Elections works before they make a judgement on it.

The idea of PUBLIC CAMPAIGN financing is that the candidate raises money to a certain cap but is then obligated to raise money from hundreds of small donations from the PUBLIC-- public being citizens who want to donate to the candidate and not corporations whose special interests oppose themselves on the candidate. After a certain cap of small donations, the state will match what they made, again to a cap.

If taxes or "fees" on NC businesses is how these funds will be made (in reality, we already have VOE for Judicial Races and certain Council of State races, and expanding VOE does not mean making races exclusively VOE) the fees are on big corporations who MAKE these donations to candidates and force the candidates to become reliant on them.

In fact, I would rather I knew that tax money was going to fund CLEAN elections. Without clean elections, how will candidates hear the problems which plague the public long enough to USE tax money for education, roads, and health care. We need to address the ROOT of the ethics problems within our government!

Allowing politicians to vote on this bill would have made it clear across party lines, there would be some measure of agreement to begin moving politics in the right direction. Moving politics back to the time when, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, the government was truly "Of the people, by the people, for the people".

Voter-Owned Elections will be back in the Senate soon enough.

Clean Elections Depend on Clean Candidates

A little dose of reality is warranted. VOE may imply that the election is clean but all that would be required to meet the small donor goal is for a large organization (read union, political party, special interest group, corporations, churches) to send to its members instructions on how to donate and why. So that barrier itself does not necessarily impart cleanliness. But that aside, the bigger issue is the cleanliness of the candidate. VOE in no way assures a "clean" candidate. In fact, it could bring out the fringe of the fringe that otherwise do not have a broad enough appeal to get elected as a representative of either party.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

Already taken into consideration:

North Carolina's very successful Voter-Owned Elections programs already in place for statewide judgeships and Council of State offices have been designed precisely to avoid those fears, Piper, and have already demonstrated that they work. Visit here to educate yourself on the structure of the programs.

I could not agree more about the need for "clean candidates" -- which is why I so strongly support Voter-Owned Elections. You can not possibly expect clean candidates to agree to a process whereby an individual has to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to win an office that pays less than what a manager at McDonald's would make -- you are just inviting corruption and the type of candidate who is willing to accept big campaign donations and give favors in return.

If we want "clean candidates" to have a hope of running and winning, we need Voter-Owned Electtions, period.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Judicial Campaigns

For the record, my wife has $50 extorted from her every year to pay for Judicial Elections. The result if she doesn't? She loses her license to practice law. She doesn't bill hundreds of dollars an hour. She works part time and makes well under $10k/year. To her $50 is a lot of money.

There is nothing voluntary or voter owned about the judicial elections. It's extortion plain and simple.

Seriously?

Your wife seriously objects to paying $50 a year for the opportunity to stand in front of a judge and make her case with the assurance that her opponent didn't give that judge thousands of dollars in the last election? Tell her to take a look at what's happening in the courts in West Virginia and in the area ravaged by the oil spill. This one's a whopper of a conflict of interest.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Why do you assume she is a trial lawyer?

Very few lawyers are actually trial lawyers. Very few judges are non-biased. She's worked with most of them in Wake and Durham counties and even the fairest of the fair have their own causes and issues they champion from the bench.

It's more than just the $50 (although, that's about a weeks worth of food for our family), it's the threat of losing her license if she doesn't pay. That's what proponents of tax payer funded elections don't get. The threat of force will always piss people off.

Why should she be happy about having someone like you telling her she has to take money away from our family to give to a G**D*** politician for their campaign?

If $50 isn't so much, why don't you send me $50 bill so you can pay her "protection money" this year? After all...it's only $50.