January 22, 2015
TARA Joins Partners Speaking Up for Democracy
Even though it occurred the day after our state convention, the Texas Alliance could not let the 5th anniversary of the unjust and undemocratic “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision pass without speaking up for democracy. Seniors, more than any other voting group, rely on their democratic rights, because we have fewer of the tools to participate in economic fights. Our voting rights are precious to us, and recent actions of the 5-member rightwing majority of the Supreme Court are ripping into our rights. “Citizens United,” the “McCutcheon Case,” and action taken against the 1965 voting rights act are demolishing America’s democratic right to have a sayso in our own affairs.
The Fort Worth Chapter happily took on the task of organizing “Speakup for Democracy” at Furr’s Cafeteria on January 21. Outstanding speakers such as Lon Burnam of Public Citizen, Liz Wally of Clean Elections Texas, and Heather Alford of Move to Amend were brought together at the TARA meeting. Many of the retirees came from the Communications Workers of America, the union that called for a national day of action against “Citizens United” on January 21. We were also joined, fortunately, by a couple of American Airlines employees. The airline has made itself infamous of late by discriminating against its retirees and future retirees.
Liz Wally announced that she will show a movie on democracy, “Pay2Play,” at La Madeleine restaurant on Lemmon Street in Dallas, 3-5 PM on Sunday, January 25. All of the speakers said that there is a growing coalition of organizations across the nation who do not necessarily agree on what action to take, but are all agreed on opposing the erosion of our essential democracy. Click here for photos on Facebook. For a satirical song against “Citizens United” click here.
Brother Lon Burnam handed out copies of his remarks. They are below:
“It has been 5 years since the 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions were entitled to same first amendment rights to free speech as private citizens.
This case led to the creation of super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporations and unions— as well as from individuals. It also triggered a boom in political activity by tax-exempt “dark money” organizations that no longer had to disclose their donors.
‘This gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates. 8 of the nation’s largest government watchdog groups, including Public Citizen, are troubled that regular Americans are losing their voice in democracy while a “tiny number” of wealthy individuals have record influence.
‘Public Citizen studied the 2014 election cycle funds and how the money moved through the nation’s largest Super PACs and found that groups spending at least $100,000 in the recent elections devoted 45 percent of their resources to helping a single candidate. Public Citizen and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law released report that found that outside spending in Senate campaigns has more than doubled since 2010, growing from $220 million to $486 million in 2014. In the 2011-2012 election cycles, super PACs spent $378 million, while non-disclosing nonprofits spent $171 million, at times praising, but mostly badmouthing candidates, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
‘The U.S. Chamber was the biggest secret spender in the 2014 elections. It spends the most to lobby Congress. This attacks U.S. jobs, our democracy and the environment. Since it has passed, Public Citizen has advocated to overturn Citizen’s United. We have advocated for a constitutional amendment specifying that First Amendment protections are for people, not corporations. We are pushing for public financing of elections to make politicians less beholden to private We are urging Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections), which would let the public know which corporations and individuals are funding political ads.
‘We are helping states prepare “pay-to-play” legislation that restricts campaign contributions and expenditures from government contractors. And we are promoting legislation that would give shareholders a say over whether corporations should spend money on elections, and if so, how much. If you would like to take action to help with our efforts you can find a list of ways to get involved here. PUBLIC CITIZEN Texas Office 815 Brazos St., Ste 300, Austin, TX 78701 512/477-1155 www.citizen.org”
–-Gene Lantz, President
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