05
Feb
2014

Learn about the McCutcheon Activists


Meet the activists who are gearing up around the country organizing rallies to be held on the day of the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

Sean Barnett – Annandale, Virginia

I’ve been active in organizing in northern Virginia to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission since 2010.  I’ve led efforts that have obtained resolutions supporting such an amendment from the Arlington County Board, the Alexandria City Council, and the Falls Church City Council.  I speak to local civic groups about the importance of this issue.  I’ve met with members of Congress and members of our state legislature to advocate for an amendment.  I’m continuing to work with local and national activists and Public Citizen as well, ultimately to get Congress to pass and the states to ratify an amendment.

The critical point that I emphasize to everyone with whom I speak about this issue is that we have to solve the money in politics problem to allow solutions to most of the other problems we face as a nation.  If we don’t do that, the American people will never regain the influence they need to implement policies that work for everyone, not just the few at the top with money and power.


Holly

Holly Mosher & crew – Los Angeles, CA 

We are organizing a McCutcheon day rally in Los Angeles because the time that Thomas Jefferson warned us about has arrived. 

As Thomas Jefferson said: "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations."


 Clare

Clare Smith-Larson – Altoona, IA

My name is Clare and I am from Altoona, an eastern suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. I am signed up to host an event at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines and am working with a group here in Central Iowa called Move to Amend to co-host this event.

I have been a part of the Public Citizen movement since I got my Overturn Citizens United t-shirt in 2011. When I found that there is a national movement to do something about the excessive, and especially "dark" money in politics, I decided to join it. I submitted my first petitions on the national election day in 2012 when I worked to re-elect Barack Obama. I have been working to try to get a resolution passed at my city council in Altoona. I am still working on our mayor, but think there will be extra effort required. I am thinking that I need to set up a challenge among the three or four towns in our state legislative district to see which town can pass a resolution first. I hope to contact the mayor of Pleasant Hill next.

When I first heard about the Citizens United ruling, I was extremely annoyed but didn't know what I could do. As I have become more involved, I have learned strategies, but I have also learned of many of the abuses of "big money" in national and even local politics. The thing that bothers me the most about the McCutcheon case is that the person who has the money wants to use it to influence the outcome of an election outside of his own state. It's bad enough when individuals think they can "buy" an election in their own state, but it's totally wrong to be able to give unlimited (for practical purposes) amounts to influence the outcome of an election where you do not even live.

It's bad enough when the anonymous donors of a group like Americans for Prosperity or Crossroads GPS can influence national races, but it was beyond belief when I learned of the meddling in a city council race in a suburb of Iowa City, Iowa last summer by Americans for Prosperity and of the money spent by an out-of-state group on the Des Moines City Council election last fall. Luckily, both attempts backfired. I suspect with the one it was a matter of knowing where the money ultimately came from and the other because the candidate running for re-election made a much stronger case for re-election than his opponent who had out of state support.

This year a candidate I support for election is being bombarded by negative, mostly untruthful ads from Americans for Prosperity. The possible candidates running against him are not directly behind the ads, but will certainly benefit from them where potential voters do not get to see and hear the voice of the candidate I support. All of this "meddling" has to stop. We need to have limited time frames on elections with no outside money allowed and where potential voters can hear the positions of candidates on the issues of the day: the economy, job creation, unemployment benefits for veterans coming back from the Middle East, food assistance for families not making enough money to rise above the poverty level, etc. There are many other issues of importance as well, but we don't get a good idea of what a candidate stands for if all the ads do is pour out negative stuff. Besides it tends to turn people off so they don't even want to vote or they just want to vote everyone out.


 Vivian

Vivian Lyte-Johnson – Winter Garden, FL

My name is Vivian Lyte-Johnson, a grandmother 13 times over, mother of 4 children, wife, retired educator, and an engaged citizen.

These are the reasons for my activism - I believe that we only have a democracy when citizens participate. Unfortunately, some would rather we let Washington, ie. Congress, do its thing. This thinking has led us to decisions that deteriorate the power of our vote. My desires to inform, encourage, and support my friends and neighbor’s participation came as a result of President Obama clearly stating "If you want me to do something, you have to make me." We have to engage as many citizens as possible especially those who agree with our positions. We must raise awareness about the McCutcheon decision.


Kendra

Kendra Karas – Grand Rapids, MI

I am a single mother of two brilliant boys, ages 6 and 12. I am attending Grand Valley State University and recently changed from psychology to a social work major. I made this change because I am driven to work on the ground with the people. I am “just a waitress”, finding fulfillment in serving the cause of social justice rather than simply serving food. My desire is to feed people hope and knowledge so that they can embrace their own intrinsic worth and fight for it.

I became inspired to take action watching the brave occupiers take Zuccotti Park. The Occupy Wall Street movement brought so many issues to the forefront of the national conversation, directing attention away from mainstream politics to the underlying cause of social stratification and exploitation of the working class. Working with occupiers in my home town, we have taken on Big Banks, Big Oil, GMO’s, fracking, privatization efforts and voting rights. I was honored to meet David Cobb who spoke in Grand Rapids, MI, on behalf of Move to Amend.

Working in concert with other concerned citizens we have been working toward a constitutional amendment that clearly states, “corporations are not people and money is not free speech.” The upcoming McCutcheon ruling is incredibly important to me. I can’t afford to buy my own politician. Our elections are not for sale to the highest bidder! While we may not have the money, we do have the power of numbers and passion to call for change. The truth gives us power that will always trump the interests of the moneyed elite. I am currently organizing to educate the public about the ramifications of the McCutcheon case and prepare to really make some noise on the day of the ruling.

While I do my best to keep apprised of the threats to our civil rights and the environment, I often find myself burning the candle at both ends, wishing that I could do so much more. My boys are a constant reminder of the purpose of activism. It is my moral duty as a citizen to speak out, but knowing a world of equality and solidarity for all people is a dream I hold for my children.


 Brittany

Brittany Clark – Lake Arrowhead, CA


My name is Brittany Clark. I am a graduate student studying at The University of Southern California at The School of Social Work. I am participating in all events supporting democracy related to the McCutcheon vs. FEC case because as an American Citizen, I still believe in the founding characteristics of our nation: freedom and equality within a checks-and-balance system.

Our government needs to uphold the public opinion and worth of every voter in the country, not just within certain interest groups where the equality gap becomes larger and larger. The social welfare state needs to be re-examined. Money should not be a determinant factor of elections. The founding principle of democracy that our Founding Fathers ensured for future generations is becoming a distant ideal.

I am running for office, not for self-interest nor victory, but to ensure as an "average" American whom started with not one dollar in campaign financial support, could advance to the presidential candidacy for the Democratic Party.


 Victor

Victor Tiffany – Ithaca, NY

I am 58 and active in the movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. When that decision was announced and described, my life was changed. I began asking questions online: when did corporations first attain constitutional rights? How did spending money on political propaganda come to be protected by the 1st Amendment?

Now, I am the state-wide coordinator in New York for Move to Amend, active in the NY4Democracy coalition and the senior columnist for The Amendment Gazette. Working with MoveOn.org in Ithaca, NY, I am one of the organizers behind the rapid response to the pending McCutcheon v FEC decision.


Dolores

Dolores Baldasare - Nanuet, NY

A few sentences about myself: I have traveled extensively, lived abroad, earned a Master’s Degree and kept politically active, yet somehow feel ineffectual in the face of mounting injustices to people, our earth and our democracy. I believe that money is at the core of political corruption and so I seek to: thwart the McCutcheon vs. FEC ruling, overturn Citizens United and then start addressing campaign finance reform once and for all!


Charlie

Charlie Cooper - Baltimore, MD

I was born in 1947 in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania that served the surrounding coal mines. The 1958 recession hit our county hard and my Dad’s car business failed. I would lay awake in bed at night and hear him crying in the next bedroom, overwhelmed by his financial troubles. What I didn't know as a 10-year-old was that bigger forces – strip-mining and anti-union feeling among investors and coal management – were eviscerating Fayette County’s economy.

We survived as a family because extended family helped and my Dad showed a lot of grit. But ever since then I have rooted for the underdog.

What I see now in the U. S. is that colossal, global forces are at work to lower wages and tilt the table toward the interests of the corporate elite and those who are already ultra-rich. Then these same people exert inordinate influence on our government through the election finance system.

I spent 20 years working with some success for adequate and equitable funding of Maryland’s public schools, and now I worry that a good education will not enable most of our youth to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle. We must interrupt the cycle of greed and political influence by building a movement of, by, and for the people.

Since October 2012, I have been one of the founders of Get Money Out – Maryland. What a pleasure it has been to see that people of all ages and backgrounds are flocking to our organization! They are contributing their time and creativity toward our goal of overturning Citizens United with a 28th Amendment to the Constitution. In doing so, they are manifesting that patriotic love of democracy that will save our great nation.


Joe

Joe Charogoff - Glendale, CA

I live in Glendale, CA and work in Pasadena as a Security Officer. I have written and published a couple books, and aside from writing I like to meet up with groups of friends.

I want to organize and be a part of events that protest the McCutcheon ruling, because 'our' politicians are supposed to represent us (every Americans) fairly, not be influenced and bias because a very small number of people (corporate elites) get to sway them in their favor. As soon as money is more important to our leaders than America is, America (and others) only logically gets hurt.


Andrea

Andrea Rea - Inverness, FL

My name is Andrea Rea. I am 64 years old and have been retired from teaching special education for two years. My partner is Peggy and we have been together for fifteen years. I have college degrees in special education and teaching English as a second language, along with an advanced professional certificate in autism. As a kid, my interests were marine biology, sports, bike and unicycle riding, piano, and arts & crafts. Even as a child, a longstanding issue for me was seeing others (both people and animals) being treated unfairly and/or bullied. This included classmates being mercilessly teased and bullied; my brother being bullied because of his behaviors due to Tourette Syndrome; classmates in biology class neglecting their laboratory mice in the high school biology “Animal Room.”

In college, I studied to become a special education teacher. I wanted special education students to pursue and develop their strengths and interests. I wanted to make sure they had positive self-esteem and see themselves as contributing members of society. I wanted to see my students blossom.

I had always wanted to experience living a foreign country. So after college I saved up and traveled across Europe with a friend of mine. I ended up in Thailand where I lived for 5 years during the 1970’s. I was in my twenties at the time. I taught English on weekdays and scuba dived on weekends. Life was exciting and new. Even buying groceries was an adventure.

In 1979, I returned to the United States. I taught special education and participated in the Equality Rights Amendment and gay rights movements. During the past twenty years, I have lived in or close to big cities: Chicago, Miami, Boston, and DC. Now my partner and I are trying out life as snow-birds, Massachusetts in the summer and Florida in the winter. In Florida my life is in the small towns. I like sailing, snorkeling, bike riding, hiking and boat building.

I retired from teaching at the age of 62 in 2011. I soon became an activist engaged in the social and economic issues of our times, especially in ending corporate personhood and money in politics - the serious threats to our democracy being replaced by a corporatocracy. Another outrageous issue has been the lack of the Department of Justice bringing Wall Street bankers to justice. Put these criminals in prison for stealing people’s homes, their family life, and their life savings.

On January 20, 2012, I went to a Citizens United rally sponsored by Move to Amend, followed by a Citizens United protest at the Supreme Court sponsored by Occupy the Courts, DC. At the protest I read the motto engraved at the top of the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Under Law.” You’ve got to be kidding. Sometimes words are not enough so more than 100 of us (protesters) took to the steps and ran to the top, peacefully exercising our freedom of speech against Citizens United. Twelve of us were arrested when we did not leave. Six of us demanded a trial by jury which we had eight months later in August. Amongst the six of us our charges totaled 13. We were found innocent on 10 charges and guilty on three for failure to obey the officers and leave the premises. Our case for three of us is now in the Court of Appeals which is scheduled for February 7, 2014. For me it is empowering to stand up for justice as it goes to the core of my soul. I now have a voice.

Now comes McCutcheon v. FEC, “Citizens United: The Sequel.” Several weeks ago I learned that there would be a webinar for a nationwide movement to occur across the country on the same day that the Supreme Court hands down its ruling on the McCutcheon case. So I tuned in to the webinar that explained this nationwide rapid response. Organizers were needed across the country. I looked at Citrus County on the map and nothing was being planned there. It was long overdue. After hearing how close the team would work with the local organizers, preparing us every step of the way, I took the plunge to organize my first event. I wouldn’t have done so if it weren’t for three things:

(1) The webinar team assured us that they would guide us through everything and be just a phone call or email away. The whole procedure has been laid out in front of us from start to finish and the national team is leading the way guiding us.

(2) We were assured several times that no pressure would be made on how many people had to show up.

(3) The last reason is due to the importance of the national actions to bring back democracy and the methods needed to restore it. Local towns all over the country are necessary to get our democracy back. Citrus County, FL and the towns within it has to get on the map, make its mark, and not leave a gaping hole. All of the towns’ people need to be educated on corporate personhood and money in politics. There needs to be a means for uniting. There are many folks who are outraged but have not thought of actually taking that first step to come together and protest. Think of corporate control of our country and money in politics as a stool with McCutcheon and Citizens United sitting up on the seat. What hold the seat up are the legs. The only way to get rid of McCutcheon and Citizens United is for “We the People” in our local towns to chew away at the legs, bringing the seat down. We can’t just tear away at the top. For that reason too I am organizing an action here in Citrus County against McCutcheon.


Kaye

Kaye Gamble – Elgin, IL

Just because one has more money doesn't mean they should have more power in a government by, for and of the people.


 Jeffrey

Jeffrey Korn – Bronx, NY

I am 63 years old, retired, disable (Multiple Sclerosis) and living in Bronx, New York. I can now walk normally because of a change of diet and rehab. Most of my time is spent at home or volunteering for various housing or homeless organizations.

I registered with Move to Amend and am also am very liberal. I am more of a follower and not a leader at this time, but I am learning. When there are any demonstrations or meetings in New York City, I will be there for support.

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