PEOPLE FOR BLOG

Here’s How PFAW Is Fighting to Win Election Day 2014

In the home stretch until Election Day, People For the American Way is working nonstop to get out the progressive vote!

PFAW’s programs are focused on targeting the right voters in the right states, and could help Democrats win in previously unexpected places. Republicans could now lose in states they thought were a lock for them -- like Georgia, Kansas and South Dakota. 

Thanks to the time, energy, and support of our members, we’re giving it everything we’ve got in these final seven days:

  • We have ads running on TV and radio in Senate battleground states: Colorado, North Carolina and Georgia.
  • We’re running a targeted online ad campaign in Virginia. Our ads use Republicans’ toxic issue positions and dehumanizing rhetoric against them to turnout Latino voters in the close races where they could make the difference.
  • PFAW organizers are on the ground mobilizing volunteers and turning out progressive voters in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where we’re in an ultra-tight race to oust the Tea Party’s favorite governor, Gov. Scott Walker. (We also have a radio ad up in Wisconsin.)
  • In the critical final days of the cycle, PFAW staff, along with board member Dolores Huerta -- one of the progressive movement’s most iconic champions – are on the ground in Colorado and Georgia to fire up the troops and mobilize voters.
  • PFAW and MoveOn volunteers will be calling voters in the most competitive Senate races, like Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and South Dakota.
  • We’ve partnered with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to mobilize PFAW activists to make calls for progressive candidates.
  • PFAW members received a phone message from PFAW board member Kathleen Turner reminding them to get out the vote – and urge their friends and family to do the same – on Election Day.
  • And we’ll be getting out the vote against far-right Republican incumbent Pat Roberts with targeted mailings in the extremely close Senate race in Kansas.

It’s not too late to get involved in our efforts! We have two opportunities for you to make calls from home – make calls to save the Senate with PFAW and MoveOn.org, and/or call out the vote for progressive House candidates with PFAW and the PCCC. And if you can, please consider supporting our work to defeat Tea Party Republicans with a contribution now.

PFAW

Florida GOP Politicians Get Big Bucks from Fossil Fuel Interests, Dodge Climate Change Questions

This weekend Common Cause Florida Chairman Peter Butzin published an op-ed calling out Florida Republicans such as Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush for repeatedly ducking questions on climate change while taking big money from dirty energy donors to fund their campaigns. Butzin noted:

Rising sea levels threaten all of Florida’s popular coastal areas and could alter the freshwater supply that feeds our cities and agriculture. Too many elected officials not only refuse to address climate change, they won’t even acknowledge it as legitimate. Meanwhile, they happily take campaign checks from business interests that benefit the most from their inaction.

Fossil fuel interests spent $116 million nationally on political campaigns in 2012, and are on track to spend even more in 2014. Since many of Florida’s major population centers are along the coastline and are barely above sea level, climate change presents a particularly high stakes risk for residents of the state.

At the end of his op-ed, Butzin highlights the important connection between action on climate change and campaign finance reform.

If we really want to save our state and our planet we must first reform the system we use to elect our representatives in Washington and Tallahassee. Floridians need a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. Once that happens, Florida politicians will have no excuse to deny the science of climate change.

You can read the full op-ed here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article3358904.html#storylink=cpy

PFAW

PFAW Endorses Five New Candidates for Federal Office

PFAW is proud to announce five new federal endorsements in the 2014 elections. These candidates and officials, representing a diverse and broad swath of constituencies, are some of the best and brightest progressive champions in the country.

  • John Foust (VA-10)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
  • Ruben Gallegos (AZ-7)
  • Rick Nolan (MN-8)
  • Amanda Renteria (CA-21)

PFAW-endorsed candidates have fought against big money in politics, promoted economic fairness and equality for all, and called for increasing educational opportunities for workers and students. They promote civil rights and voting rights, support marriage equality and employment protections for LGBTQ Americans, and believe women should maintain choice over their own health decisions. Many are also endorsed by other leading progressive, labor, civil rights, women’s rights, and equality organizations.

PFAW encourages all members to consider supporting these candidates’ campaigns.

Visit our 2014 Federal Candidate Endorsements page to learn more about all of our endorsed candidates.

PFAW

House Lawsuit Against Obama Undermined by CRS Report

Although House Republicans managed to keep it a secret until now, their transparently political lawsuit against the president was found to be baseless in early September by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Part of the Library of Congress, the CRS provides neutral legal and policy research and analysis to Congress, including committees and individual members. The Constitutional Accountability Center's Simon Lazarus and Elisabeth Stein got a copy of the September 4 CRS report, and it may explain why the lawsuit, though loudly trumpeted, has not actually been filed.

In an article entitled The Congressional Research Service Finds that Boehner's Lawsuit Has No Legal Basis, Lazarus and Stein write:

Now, three months after the party-line House vote to green-light the lawsuit, no complaint has yet been filed. If this stretched out delay means that Boehner has actually redirected his sue-Obama gambit toward oblivion, the reason may be this unnoticed six week old CRS report. … [The] report actually targets a single instance of alleged agency delay and exercise of enforcement discretion - the Obama Administration's adjustments of effective dates for the Affordable Care Act's so-called employer mandate to offer employees ACA-complaint health insurance or pay a tax. This delay happens to be the basis - the sole basis - for the legal action against the President that Boehner outlined in July. Although shrouded in twelve pages of fine print and protectively bureaucratic phraseology, the report's bottom line is clear: not merely are the legal underpinnings of the Republicans' planned lawsuit weak; the report turns up no legal basis - no "there" there - at all.

So who in Congress requested this analysis of the CRS?

CRS reports such as this one are generated in response to requests by members or committees of Congress, though the CRS does not make public the identity of the requester or requesters. This particular report - of which House Democrats were unaware until it appeared - bears the earmarks of an inquiry, requested by the Speaker or his allies, to give some color of legitimacy to their charges of rampant presidential illegality. Instead, the result validates the lawyers' maxim not to ask a question when unsure of the likely answer.

The Republicans came up with the lawsuit gimmick as a sop to their base, who regularly characterize President Obama as a lawless dictator. It is typical of the irresponsible behavior we have seen from the House since the 2010 election.

And this is the party that wants to take over the Senate in next week's elections.

PFAW

New Spanish-Language Radio Ad Supporting Mark Udall Airs in Colorado

Starting today, a new Spanish-language radio ad supporting Senator Mark Udall will hit the airwaves in Colorado. The ad is part of a NextGen Climate and PFAW Spanish-language campaign to highlight the stark differences between Udall and GOP candidate Cory Gardner on issues important to Latino voters.

The radio ad underscores Udall’s support for immigration reform and environmental protections. It points out that Udall is “the only candidate who supports immigration reform” in the Senate race.

Latinos make up roughly 14 percent of the state’s electorate, and a recent poll of Latino registered occasional voters in Colorado showed that 89 percent are either “almost certain to” or will “probably” vote in the midterms, making this community a critical voice in the tight Senate race. PFAW and NextGen Climate have been working together in the state to engage and turn out Latino voters. The two organizations recently began airing Spanish-language TV ads in Colorado highlighting GOP candidate Cory Gardner’s record of supporting polluters and encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Udall instead.

You can read a transcript of the new radio ad, as well as an English translation, below.

Los republicanos nos quieren engañar acerca de quién es Mark Udall. Pero no lo lograrán. Mark Udall es un auténtico defensor de la comunidad.Udall ha luchado para mantener limpios el aire y el agua, protegiendo la salud de nuestros hijos. Además, él es el único candidato que sí apoya la reforma migratoria.

Tu voto es tu poder. ¡Votar ahora es muy fácil! Busca la boleta de votación que fue enviada a tu casa. Márcala y envíala por correo inmediatamente.¡Así de fácil! Confiamos en Mark Udall porque él nos dice la verdad y por eso, merece tú voto. Marca tu boleta y envíala por correo hoy mismo. El voto es tu poder. ¡Usalo!


VO Disclaimer: Pagado por NextGenClimate Action Committee, nextgenclimate.org. No está autorizado por ningún candidato o comité del candidato. NextGen Climate Action Committee es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio. Endosado por People For the American Way.

English translation of radio ad:

Republicans want to deceive us about Mark Udall. But they won’t accomplish it. Mark Udall is a champion for our community. He’s fought to keep our air and water safe – to protect our children’s health. Udall is the only candidate who supports immigration reform.

Your power is your vote. And now voting is easy! Search for the ballot that was mailed to your home. Just mark your ballot and mail it back immediately. It’s that simple! We trust Democrat Mark Udall because he tells us the truth – and that’s why he deserves our vote. Mark your ballot and mail it back today. The vote is your power. Use it!


VO Disclaimer:
Paid for by NextGen Climate Action Committee, nextgenclimate.org.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.  NextGen Climate Action Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. Endorsed by People For the American Way.

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PFAW

John Roberts, Calling Strikes and Strikes

In 2005, when John Roberts was seeking to persuade the Senate that he should be confirmed as Chief Justice, he famously (and misleadingly) likened Supreme Court Justices to baseball umpires, simply calling balls and strikes. To use his analogy, last week's ruling on voter ID in Texas showed just how far the umpire will go to rig the game.

Earlier this month, district court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the voter ID law could not be enforced. Her careful consideration all of the evidence presented at trial led her to conclude that the Texas statute didn't simply have a racially discriminatory impact (as if that wasn't bad enough), but that state lawmakers had actually intended to make it harder to Latinos and African Americans to vote. She found that the law violated the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, and the 24th Amendment (prohibiting poll taxes).

Not surprisingly, Texas wants to enforce the law during this year's election, while its appeal is pending. After all, if a law designed to obstruct people of color from voting isn't allowed to be enforced during the election, then what's the point? Less than a week after Judge Ramos issued her ruling, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit granted Texas's request for a stay. The two George W. Bush-nominated judges on that panel wrote of the irreparable harm to Texas if its law were not enforced, with little concern about the irreparable harm to the law's targets if it were enforced.

So voting rights advocates asked the Supreme Court to vacate the appeals court's stay. But last week, over the dissent of at least three Justices, the Roberts Court denied that request, meaning that Texas can enforce the law during the current election. Although the Court did not provide its reasoning, they presumably believe that the state's interest in enforcing a law found to be intentionally discriminatory is greater than the interests of those targeted by the law.

What a terrible message the hard-right conservative judges are sending Latinos and African Americans: We just don't think your rights are important.

Using the baseball metaphor, even when the pitcher intentionally beans the batter, Umpire Roberts and his conservative colleagues will call it a strike. The umpire takes sides, and tough luck if you're on the wrong team.

But this isn't a baseball game, and Americans can do more than just boo from the stands: We can vote, and we can get our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else we know to vote. When we vote for Senate, we're picking the people who will vote on whether to confirm or block the next Supreme Court nominee. What better to way to prove to the Roberts Court that we all matter?

PFAW Foundation

Big Money Mobilizes Against Amendment Movement

With growing momentum behind the call for a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, big money and those who benefit from the current system of campaign finance are pulling out all the stops to try and slow down the process of reform. As evidenced by the recent vote on the Democracy for All Amendment, a majority of the Senate is committed to passing a constitutional amendment. Additionally, 16 states and 550 municipalities have passed resolutions and nearly three and a half million people have signed a petition in support of an amendment.

In response, some of the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful elite, like the notorious billionaires Charles and David Koch, are mobilizing their extensive networks of writers, think tanks, and political organizations to spread misinformation and attempt to sabotage organizing efforts that support an amendment. As noted in a recent report by the Center for Media and Democracy, across the country, opinion pieces are making their way into newspapers with the message that activists calling for a constitutional amendment are trying to “radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech.” Some authors of these articles, such as conservative columnist George Will, have been wined and dined at exclusive events organized by groups like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.

Rob Roper, President of the Ethan Allen Institute, claims that setting limits on campaign expenditures is tantamount to repealing the First Amendment entirely, and is laying  the "the foundation for a police state." The Ethan Allen Institute is a member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing think tanks in all 50 states, which receives funding from the Koch network and is a major driver of the corporate policy agenda facilitated by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 

Peter Roff, U.S. News contributing editor and Frontiers of Freedom Senior Fellow, writes that amendment proponents are “so desperate to rig the system that they are willing to eviscerate the U.S. Constitution.” In reality, the opposite is true. The current system of campaign finance is rigged to benefit the tiniest fraction of wealthy Americans who want to protect the status quo, with fewer than 200 of the country’s 310 million residents contributing 80 percent of all super PAC donations in the 2012 presidential election. Roff goes on to accuse progressives of actually being “regressives” and proclaiming that “if they had the capacity to feel it, they would be ashamed.” As the Center for Media and Democracy points out, “Frontiers of Freedom has received $175,000 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation between 2004 and 2007.”

It’s no surprise that big money groups like the Koch network are trying to crush the growing call to amend the Constitution. The level of influence that the Koch brothers have bought, with their network raising $400 million in the 2012 election cycle alone, would be curtailed with reasonable limits in political spending. While the backlash from big money is certainly having an impact the midterm elections, it’s also a sign that the money in politics movement is making progress. In the words of Gandhi, “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” The fight may just be getting started, but if history is any indicator, the people will prevail.

Republicans Said What About Immigrants?

Today PFAW is releasing a new digital ad in Virginia highlighting GOP Congressional candidate Barbara Comstock’s dehumanizing rhetoric toward immigrants. Taking a page out of former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s playbook, who has compared immigrants to rats, last month Comstock compared immigrants to FedEx packages.

Comstock said in a recent debate: “Fedex can track packages coming in here all the time. We can track people who are coming into the country, and we can do that right.”

Beginning today, the ad (pictured above) will run in Northern Virginia until Election Day, as will a Spanish-language version of the ad. The text above the ad notes:

Virginia Republicans continue to use dehumanizing and degrading language towards immigrants. Hold them accountable on Election Day, November 4!

Comstock’s comment is just the latest example from a political party that continues to alienate the Latino community with its demeaning rhetoric and harmful agenda. Despite what GOP candidates may believe, immigrants are not rats, or Fed Ex packages, or dogs, or drug runners. That’s why PFAW is working hard this election cycle — in states including Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Wisconsin — to highlight for Latino voters the harmful track records of GOP candidates, and encouraging voters to keep that in mind when they cast their ballots on Election Day.

PFAW

Former President Clinton Calls Out McConnell for Support of Big Money in Politics

During a speech earlier this week supporting Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, former President Bill Clinton drew attention to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s obsession with keeping big money in politics.

Clinton questioned McConnell’s commitment to public service in light of remarks McConnell made during a closed-door meeting to a roomful of billionaires in which he said that the day the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill passed was the “worst day” of his political life:

How can that be the worst day of your life, even if you thought it was a bad idea? That was worse than 9/11? That was than the day we had the biggest crash since the Great Depression?…Wouldn’t you feel sick if you spent 30 years representing Kentucky in the Senate, and the worst day of your life was when there was an honest attempt to limit black-bag operations from foreign billionaires from buying your elections?

It should come as no surprise to voters, then, that McConnell has pushed an agenda that routinely favors corporate interests over Kentuckians. His willingness to sacrifice the needs of his constituents to support big businesses was put on display when he helped to lead the opposition against the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United that was voted on in the Senate last month.

McConnell’s careless remarks about his “worst day” say a lot about the danger of big money in our elections. Through public demonstrations, petition deliveries and rallies, PFAW members and local activists have been working hard to spotlight McConnell’s devotion to wealthy special interests, and show Kentuckians that their needs have never been his primary concern. Without limits on spending to influence elections by deep-pocketed special interests, corporations and the super wealthy are given free rein to buy elections and stack the political deck against the will of the American people. 

PFAW

PFAW Endorses Brad Anderson for Iowa Secretary of State

People For the American Way is proud to announce its endorsement of Brad Anderson for Iowa Secretary of State.

Anderson is running for Secretary of State to expand voting in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, setting the goal of making the state number one in voter turnout. As part of a multi-point plan to reach that goal, he proposed comprehensive online voter registration for all Iowans, a permanent vote-by-mail system for rural counties, and an expansion of no-excuse early voting and absentee voting.

Anderson is fighting against voter suppression tactics, and for an end to partisanship in the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. He supports Iowa’s current optional Voter ID system where election workers are allowed to ask for an ID to verify identity, but it is not required to vote. Anderson noted at a recent forum that the Secretary of State’s office “should be approached in a non-partisan way, period.”

In contrast, Anderson’s opponent, GOP candidate Paul Pate, wants to implement mandatory voter ID, a measure that could disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters. As Iowa Secretary of State from 1995-1998, Pate was reprimanded and fined by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board for using his official office for political purposes, and in 1999 he was reprimanded again by the Iowa Attorney General for attempting to personally register trademarks created for his official duties.

Anderson is the co-founder of MyDigitalManager, a company that provides database search tools for audio and video assets. He is the former Iowa state director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and has worked to pass local referendums for a wellness center in Indianola in 2010 and a new public safety center in Johnston in 2011. He also worked on the successful Iowa's Water and Land Legacy campaign in 2010, creating a natural resources trust fund dedicated to land conservation and clean water.

To see Brad Anderson’s latest TV ad, or to make a contribution to his campaign, visit https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/anderson4iowa.

PFAW

PFAW Endorses Nina Turner for Ohio Secretary of State

People For the American Way is proud to announce its endorsement of Ohio State Senator Nina Turner for Ohio Secretary of State.

Turner is running for secretary of state to expand ballot access and ensure that all Ohioans have a voice in our elections. She fights for the right of every eligible voter to have their ballot counted and has consistently been an outspoken advocate for all Ohioans.

Since being elected to Ohio’s 25th State Senate district, Turner has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working senators in the chamber. She has worked to defeat anti-worker legislation restricting collective bargaining rights (Senate Bill 5), to protect women’s health, and to expand voting rights. She has become nationally recognized for championing the right to cast a vote that counts, calling voting “the great equalizer – the one place where your age, beliefs, and wealth have no impact on how powerful your voice is.”

Turner’s opponent, incumbent Secretary of State Jon Husted, has used his power to do just the opposite: limit voters’ access to the polls. He has been sued in court for limiting voting hours, moving polling locations, and restricting access to the polls in traditionally Democratic and minority areas of the state. Most recently Husted eliminated Ohio’s “Golden Week” where voters could register and vote at the same time. He has been a national leader in the GOP effort to suppress the vote across the country.

Because of her leadership in the Ohio State Senate, in 2012 Turner was named as Senate Democratic Whip. She has also been named a Legislative Champion for Children, a Friend of Labor by the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and as 2012 State Senator of the Year by The Nation magazine. In addition to her legislative duties, Turner also teaches history at her alma mater, Cuyahoga Community College. She still lives in the same community where she grew up, with her husband of over 20 years.

To see Nina Turner’s TV ad for Ohio Secretary of State or make a donation to her campaign, visit https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/turnerpower.

 

PFAW

Money in Politics Debated in Midterm Elections

In Congressional races across the country, the issue of big money in elections is making its way into campaign speeches, debates and media coverage. Hundreds of millions have already been spent by anonymous sources through shadowy “dark money” groups that aren’t required to disclose their donors, and this influx of untraceable money will undoubtedly escalate as Election Day draws closer.  

In Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is locked in a close race with Democratic challenger Alison Grimes, the issue of big money in politics was recently brought up in a televised debate. “The only person Washington’s been benefiting is Senator McConnell and the millionaires and billionaires that have bankrolled him,” Grimes said, with McConnell essentially dismissing the assertion. Indeed, McConnell has repeatedly defended the role of outside money in politics, even going as far as to say that the current state of campaign finance is the “most free and open system we've had in modern times.” PFAW activists on the ground in Kentucky have been hard at work calling McConnell out for his record of blocking efforts to get big money out of politics.

At a recent debate in Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor criticized his Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton for taking money from political action groups that receive funding from billionaires like Charles and David Koch. Sen. Pryor went on to call out Rep. Cotton for praising the Koch network at an exclusive event hosted by the brothers this past summer, where he credited his political rise to the support of Koch-funded groups such as Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity.

In Kansas, the home state of Koch Industries, Senate candidate Greg Orman, who is running as an independent, has pledged to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United. In response, Republican incumbent Pat Roberts has criticized him in a TV ad for supposedly seeking to take away free speech. Of course, the amendment would do nothing of the sort – it would simply restore legislators’ ability to set reasonable limits on money in elections.

If one thing can be learned from the 2014 midterms, it’s that without reform, the enormous amount of money being spent in elections will continue to grow. The need for a constitutional amendment is becoming increasingly clear, with public support on the rise. Over 550 towns and cities, 16 states, 200 members of Congress and nearly three and a half million people have called for an amendment. By the 5th anniversary of Citizens United, coming up in January, a diverse group of organizations seeks to gather over five million signatures and send a strong statement when the 114th Congress convenes next year.  

Have you added your name?

PFAW

PFAW Action Fund Announces New Endorsements of Young Elected Progressives

People For the American Way Action Fund announced today a third round of endorsements of dynamic young progressive candidates running for public office across the United States. The four endorsees are a diverse mix of candidates 35 and under who are marking a new generation of progressive leadership. These candidates and officials have visions that will benefit communities around the nation as they fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and equality for all.

The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates ages 35 and under in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels. They join a slate of 31 previously announced YEP endorsees, bringing the total number of YEP endorsees for the 2014 election cycle to 35.

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these YEP candidates for 2014:

Darcie Green is a running for reelection as vice president and trustee of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, Area 6, and serves as a current member of the California Latino School Boards Association’s statewide board of directors. For more than 15 years, Green has dedicated her life to community service, having worked to build a pipeline of leadership for women, people of color, youth, and working families in the Silicon Valley. Earlier this year she received the Barbara Jordan Leadership Award from our affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network (YEO). In 2013 she was included in Silicon Valley Latino Magazine’s “40 Under 40 To Watch” list, named as a “Top Woman of Influence” by Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal, and honored as an Emerge America Trailblazer Honoree. Visit www.darciegreen.com for more information.

Mo Khan is running for Illinois House District 20, with policy priorities including improving the quality of public education, growing the economy, and increasing the public’s confidence in Illinois state government. Currently studying for his law degree at Loyola University, he holds a B.A. in accounting from the University of Iowa and is a lifelong District 20 resident. In 2008 Khan worked as a traveling campaign aide to Hilary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, and he served as special assistant to former Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulious in his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. Visit www.votemokhan.com for more information.

Veekas Shrivastava is a running for governing board member of the Tempe Union High School District in Arizona. He is a graduate of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Front Line Leaders Academy and Arizona Leaders for Change, and is the youngest graduate of the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy. A financial database entrepreneur, Shrivastava also teaches financial literacy as a classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement and has been a leader in city commissions and high school site councils. Shrivastava is committed to helping ensure every TUHSD student has access to a quality education. Visit www.veekasmeansprogress.com for more information.

Mark Spreitzer is running for Wisconsin State Assembly District 45. Currently president of the Beloit City Council, Spreitzer won the August 12 primary election to succeed current State Representative Janice Ringhand, who is running for the Wisconsin State Senate. With no Republican opponent in the race, he is running unopposed for the general election. In additional to his duties as an elected official, Spreitzer is assistant director of alumni & parent relations and annual support at Beloit College. He volunteers for the Welty Environmental Center, the Hands of Faith homeless shelter, and the Youth2Youth coalition combating underage drinking and drug abuse. Visit www.markforassembly.com for more information.

PFAW

Diversity in Obama's Judicial Nominees

In a new article in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin wrote about President Obama's judicial legacy. Among other things, the president discussed the importance of diversity on the federal bench:

Obama's judicial nominees look different from their predecessors. In an interview in the Oval Office, the President told me, "I think there are some particular groups that historically have been underrepresented—like Latinos and Asian-Americans—that represent a larger and larger portion of the population. And so for them to be able to see folks in robes that look like them is going to be important. When I came into office, I think there was one openly gay judge who had been appointed. We've appointed ten."

To bring that point home, the White House has released a newly updated and detailed infographic on creating a judicial pool that resembles the nation it serves. Here are just a few accomplishments it covers:

  • 42% of Obama's confirmed judges have been women (higher than George W. Bush's 22% and Bill Clinton's 29%)
  • Obama has put more African American women on the federal bench than any other president
  • Obama has put more Latinos on the federal bench than any other president
  • Obama has put more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on the federal bench than the previous 43 presidents combined
  • Obama has had 10 openly gay lesbian or gay nominees confirmed, up from one previously (a Clinton nominee)
  • Obama has named the nation's first Native American woman federal judge

As important as it is to have a bench that looks like the people it serves, it is also important to have judges with a wide range of experiential and professional diversity. That is one way to ensure that our nation's judges understand the power of the court in protecting every American's rights and liberties.

The infographic states that 64% of President Obama's circuit court judges have served on the board of an indigent legal services or other public interest organization. It also notes that Obama nominees James Wynn (Fourth Circuit), Bernice Donald (Sixth Circuit), Jane Kelly (Eighth Circuit), and Robert Wilkins (D.C. Circuit) are the first judges on their circuits with experience as a public defender.

Just this weekend, America saw what happens when you don't have enough judges who are committed to protecting everyday Americans' constitutional rights. Saturday morning, a divided Supreme Court allowed Texas to enforce its strict voter ID law during this year's election – even though a federal judge had found that the law was unconstitutional and was intended to make it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote. The Roberts Court ruled that Texas can enforce this law while it appeals the case, which means targeted Americans will be disenfranchised exactly as intended. Justice Ginsburg wrote a powerful and persuasive dissent, and she was joined by both of President Obama's Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

No wonder that Senate Republicans have been so dedicated to obstructing President Obama's judicial nominees. Regardless of who controls the Senate during the next two years, it will be critically important to confirm quality judges who look like America and who respect the constitutional and legal rights that protect every American.

PFAW

Even Michele Bachmann Is Fed Up With The ‘Bizarre And Absurd’ Level Of Money In Politics

We know from polls that Americans on the left, right and everywhere in between are fed up with the destructive role of big money in politics and are ready for a solution to the unchecked flood of spending that has been released by a recent string of Supreme Court decisions.

But that idea got a surprising endorsement from Rep. Michele Bachmann, the ultraconservative Minnesota Republican, who in response to a question after a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday (10/15), lamented the “ridiculous,” “crazy,” “bizarre and absurd” level of money that is now saturating elections.

Money in politics clip starts 49 minutes in:

“I think it’s ridiculous the amount of money we spend on these elections,” she said. “It’s gone into the level of the bizarre and absurd.”

Recalling her 2010 reelection battle, for which she raised over $13 million, Bachmann said, “That’s crazy money. That’s crazy that any candidate should have to raise that kind of money.”

“Money is buying influence rather than real people going to the polls,” she said.

Bachmann didn’t propose any solution to the surge of money in politics, except hinting at spending limits for campaigns — which were struck down by the Supreme Court’s 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision. But her comments mark a rare occasion in which a Republican member of the 113th Congress – a Tea Partier no less – has gone on record to acknowledge the troubling influence of big money in politics.

PFAW