Democracy in the Balance
Money, Speech and Power
The League of Women Voters of Concord Carlisle - Committee on Campaign Finance Reform - began work in June of 2012 to explore the influence of money on the politics, elections and government of our country, and the threat that it poses to our democracy.
As the members of the committee met to devise a range of projects to educate the public, they learned a great deal of information themselves that was shared among each other. The committee was named Follow the Money, or FT$, or FTM, and as word spread to other Leagues in Massachusetts, support came from Amherst and Sudbury and Acton Leagues.
The committee provided information on the work of the LWV to the public, at a book event at the Concord Book Shop for attorney, author and League member Jeff Clements, whose book Corporations Are Not People addresses the impact of the Citizens United January 2010 decision by the Supreme Court, and calls for an amendment to the Constitution. A series of three newspaper articles were submitted to the Concord Journal to educate the voters, before the 2012 Concord Town Meeting at which they voted on a resolution article on the warrant, calling for a Constitutional Amendment. The resolution passed.
In an effort to assist other Leagues throughout the U. S. in educating League members and the public on campaign finance and money in government, a discussion kit was created, called Democracy in the Balance: Money, Speech and Power, consisting of a packet of documents and a power point presentation. A cover letter was sent out to all U. S. Leagues that contained information about this Discussion Kit, and a link to use to download the entire contents of the Kit. The Concord Carlisle League intends to hold local Democracy in the Balance Discussions.
In May 2012, as the Discussion Kit was being completed and distributed, the public forum Pushing Back on Money Politics was held in Concord, moderated by NPR Radio host Tom Ashbrook. Panel members Jeff Clements, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, and Brennen Center for Justice at NYU School of Law Counselor Mimi Marziani, provided all who attended, an exciting, informative and important look at the varying viewpoints on strategies to safeguard our democratic republic under attack by the influence of wealth.
The work of the Follow the Money Committee continues, as we approach the League of Women Voters National Convention in Washington, DC in early June.
Democracy in the Balance Discussion Groups
Small group Democracy in the Balance
discussions in Concord and Carlisle will be held as League members and interested community residents express interest in participating. These will be informal and informative opportunities to hear information compiled by the FT$ Committee, raise questions, share ideas and concerns, and perhaps choose to take whatever actions participants become inspired to engage in. These could include further research, attending other meetings, sharing new information, joining the League, or any number of other pursuits.
Would you like to participate in a discussion group? Please email FTM@lwvcc.org
with the subject "Sign Up for Discussion Group". Include your contact information and location in the body of the message.
Getting the Democracy in the Balance Discussion Kit
Local leagues wishing to obtain the Democracy in the Balance
Discussion Kit should email FTM@lwvcc.org
with the subject line "We would like a kit". Please include the name and local of your local league in the body of the email.
Pushing Back on Money Politics, 2012: A Forum on May 17, 2012
Information on our recently held forum can be found at PushingBack
Please email PushingBack@lwvcc.org for more information.
LWV National Convention
The League of Women Voters of Concord Carlisle along with those of Amherst and Sudbury, have made all arrangements necessary to hold a caucus on Saturday morning June 9 at LWVUS Convention being held June 8 - 12. We have invited John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People to speak at the caucus, we will give an overview of the Democracy in the Balance: Money, Speech and Power Discussion Kit, and we will talk about the Resolution that has been submitted to Convention, calling upon the League Leadership to "advocate strongly for all measures + including but not limited to a constitutional amendment + which" affirms that free speech rights belong to persons, allows Congress and States to limit campaign contributions, and ensures that elections are determined by the votes of natural persons.
The National League currently has convened a task force to study this issue.
Questions, comments? email FTM@lwvcc.org
June 9 -- Caucus at LWV National Convention
Next Fall -- Display Window at the Concord Bookstore