The Final Push: PFAW’s Latinos Vote! Get Out the Vote Efforts

In addition to PFAW’s efforts dating back to early 2015 to expose and counter the Right and get out the Latino vote this election, PFAW was on the ground in Pennsylvania and Arizona in the final days leading up to the election.

Saturday and Sunday, we focused on get out the vote efforts among Latino communities in Pennsylvania, a state where the Latino vote can be decisive. On Saturday, PFAW Director of Latinos Vote! Lizet Ocampo addressed voters and activists at a rally hosted by Make the Road Action in Allentown, PA focused on why Donald Trump and Senator Pat Toomey stand with Wall Street, not working families. Over 40 percent of Allentown residents are Latino, and nearby Reading is the only city in Pennsylvania with a majority Latino population.


Allenton, PA Get Out the Vote Rally

On Sunday, actress Lauren Velez (How to Get Away with Murder, Dexter, I Like It Like That) joined PFAW and local groups including NCLR Action and For Pennsylvania’s Future for door knocking and a canvass kickoff. Speakers addressed the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant agenda of Donald Trump and Pat Toomey and the importance of everyone getting out to vote.


Actress Lauren Velez, PFAW's Lizet Ocampo in Philadelphia, PA

Lauren Velez took a quick break from knocking doors for a Facebook Live interview with Latina Magazine about why she joined PFAW in Pennsylvania to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton and senate candidate Katie McGinty:


On Sunday night through Election Day, Lizet Ocampo joined PFAW’s team in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to knocking on doors, our team joined a midnight canvass on Monday night, in which volunteers left flyers with essential election information at voters’ door. On Tuesday, Lizet joined Democracy Now! to analyze election results as they came in. While Hillary Clinton did not win the state, Phoenix’s virulently anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpiao was defeated, thanks to Latino voters rejecting his hateful rhetoric and unconstitutional actions.

In addition to these on-the-ground efforts as part of our Latinos Vote! program, PFAW had Spanish-language anti-Trump, anti-Republican TV, radio, and digital ads running in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina.

PFAW

We Can’t Win a Fight We’re Not In

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

In this wrenching week, I have been thinking about something my former boss Paul Wellstone liked to say: “You’ve got to start a fight to win a fight.”

An animated professor-turned-senator from Minnesota, Paul’s willingness to be confrontational, and his refusal to back down from a fight he believed in, was central to his political and organizing strategy. It’s a lesson that the progressive movement and everyone who holds dear the values of equal justice, democracy, and basic compassion can take to heart this week: we can’t win a fight we’re not in.In 2002, he took a risky stand when he announced his opposition to the Iraq Warduring a tight reelection campaign. I remember that day in our senate office. After his floor speech, our phones started ringing off the hook. He knew that his position might put his job at risk, but the majority of the calls turned out to be calls of support. “I don’t agree with you,” they said, “but I appreciate that you took a principled stand.”

In this election our country took a devastating blow, especially so for women and racial and religious minorities. Many of our fights going forward—from the Supreme Court to abortion rights to immigrant rights—will be uphill battles, to say the least. But principled stands in support of our values, in support of fundamental rights, in support of a country where everyone is safe from violence and hate: these are more important stances than ever. If we don’t show up, the fight has been lost before it started.

To be clear, this fight is unlike any I’ve seen in my lifetime. Our next president has made it known that he does not respect our democratic norms. He has incited violence against protesters, threatened to open up libel laws in order to go after journalists, proposed a ban on all Muslims, casually declared that he might not accept the results of our election. He made a man who promotes white nationalism and anti-Semitism his chief strategist in the White House. This is not business as usual: it is a crisis for our democracy and for our values.

But it also means that the work to protect those values took on a profound new importance overnight. We can’t win a fight we’re not in.

Paul put himself in the middle of a number of fights that seemed impossible, and which sometimes turned out to be doomed efforts. In the mid-1990s, as public assistance programs were being gutted and every other Senate Democrat running for reelection got on board with the cuts, Paul was resolute in his opposition. He told a journalist, “You could stick a gun to my head, and I’m not going to vote for a bill that will hurt children.” Despite the fact that most of his constituents favored the cuts, his numbers shot up in the polls.

 
 
PFAW

Ask Your Representative to Condemn Hate: Sample Script on Steve Bannon

This week president-elect Donald Trump decided to name Steve Bannon to a top White House position. Bannon is the former head of far-right outlet Breitbart News, which openly promoted white nationalism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism under Bannon’s leadership.

Neo-Nazis and white nationalists immediately celebrated the decision to elevate Bannon, and it is critical and urgent that people of conscience call our elected officials in Congress and urge them to speak out against hate by condemning Bannon’s new position.

Maybe you’ve never called your member of Congress before. That’s okay: now is a great time to start.

Here’s how it works. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them your senator's or representative’s name, and they will connect you to their office. (Don’t know who represents you? Look it up here.)

When someone from the office answers, tell them that it is unconscionable for a man who has promoted white nationalism and other hateful ideologies to be serving as a top White House official.

If you’re unsure of what to say, here is a sample script:

Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent of Representative _______/ Senator _________. I’m calling because I’m concerned about Donald Trump naming Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist. Bannon ran a website openly promoting white nationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and more. White supremacists and the American Nazi Party are publicly celebrating his appointment.

I’m calling to see if Rep. _________ / Senator ___________ plans to publicly condemn Trump’s choice to name Bannon to a top White House position?

[If there are any questions, reiterate your concerns.] Yes, please express to Rep. ______/ Sen. ________ that Bannon doesn’t represent our values, and that I am asking him/her to take a principled, public stand against this kind of hate.

Thanks for your time.

After you call, you can share this graphic online to urge your friends to do the same:

PFAW

Senator Ayotte's Real Record on Equal Pay for Women

When New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte went head to head last week in a debate hosted by NH1 News, they touched on one of the most talked-about issues this election season, women's rights – specifically a woman's right to equal pay for equal work. Governor Hassan called for "an inclusive economy that works for everyone" while Senator Ayotte claimed that "equal pay for equal work is so important to me."

This issue has been a point of contention for the candidates for many months now. The New Hampshire Democratic Party fact-checked Senator Ayotte back in March, noting that her website misleads voters and covers up her past votes on the issue. Then in April Emily's List exposed Senator Ayotte's real record on the occasion of Equal Pay Day 2016, the date that women, on average, have to work to in order to make as much money as their male counterparts did in the previous year. Not only has Senator Ayotte opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times, but Donald Trump – who she has since renounced but stuck by for far too long – believes that the burden is on women to "do as good a job" as men.

The issue came up again two weeks ago when the Ayotte campaign released a new ad defending Senator Ayotte's equal pay record. Governor Hassan took her to task for this specious claim, citing not only the senator's votes against the Paycheck Fairness Act, but also her failure to introduce a meaningful alternative or to even fully acknowledge the pay gap's existence.

After last week's debate, Granite State Progress dug into the pay data on Senator Ayotte's own staff. They found a clear pay gap that has only gotten worse over time, in addition to an underrepresentation of women among her senior advisors. Governor Hassan and the state's other senator, Jeanne Shaheen, had virtually no pay gap in their offices. Senator Ayotte countered with her introduction of the GAP Act, a bill that is far from the most effective way to combat pay discrimination.

Like with her obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and his other federal judges, Senator Ayotte has made clear that she won't do her job on a lot of things. Ensuring equal pay for equal work seems to be one of them.

PFAW

Pollster Tom Jensen Joins PFAW Telebriefing on the State of the Election

On Thursday People For the American Way hosted a member telebriefing on the current state of the 2016 election cycle to discuss the latest poll numbers and what PFAW is doing to engage in the election.

Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen joined the call to share recent polling data on both the presidential contest and key Senate races, providing an overview of the 2016 landscape just over two weeks before the election. PFAW’s Drew Courtney, Marge Baker, and Laura Epstein outlined some of the highlights of PFAW’s work in 2016 on engaging Latino voters and making the Supreme Court a winning election issue.

You can listen to the full telebriefing here:

PFAW

Voter Suppression Is Not The Solution To Problems With Voter Registration

Throughout out his campaign, Donald Trump has been sounding the same voter fraud alarm that Republican leaders have been sounding for years.

Trump had this to say on the subject during Wednesday's final presidential debate:

If you look -- excuse me, Chris -- if you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote -- millions, this isn't coming from me -- this is coming from Pew Report and other places -- millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn't be registered to vote.

What he appears to be referring to is a 2012 research report commissioned by the Pew Center on the States, which says:

  • Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
  • More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
  • Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

Nowhere does Pew assert that there are 24 million cases of voter fraud. The only use of the word "fraud" in the entire report is this:

The inability of this paper-based process to keep up with voters as they move or die can lead to problems with the rolls, including the perception that they lack integrity or could be susceptible to fraud.

In fact, the rate of voter impersonation fraud is staggeringly low – 31 credible instances out of more than 1 billion ballots cast, according to another study.

A comprehensive 2014 study published in The Washington Post found 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. Even this tiny number is likely inflated, as the study’s author counted not just prosecutions or convictions, but any and all credible claims.

In case you're wondering, that's 0.0000031 percent.

What we have is a system desperately in need of modernization. Some states have taken positive steps forward on voting rights, while others have failed or been unable to act, or even worse, have taken steps backward with new, potentially suppressive restrictions. Members of Congress have introduced federal legislation, which has yet to receive any meaningful attention from the Republican leadership – the failure to restore the Voting Rights Act being one of the worst cases.

So, Mr. Trump, we do have a voter registration problem in this country. But fraud isn't the problem. And voter suppression isn't the solution.

PFAW

Ayotte & Trump: All the Straws that Didn't Break the Camel's Back

Most Americans realized more than a year ago that a Donald Trump presidency would pose a grave threat to our nation.  But it took Trump’s “hot mic” recording about sexually assaulting women to push New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte into finally renouncing her party’s nominee.

But her explanation for why this was the last straw only highlighted all the straws she was willing to accept in a president, as long as it was someone of her party.  Ayotte explained her decision on Saturday:

I’m a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women.

But she’s been willing to support Trump until now.  In essence, she’s been saying:

  • I can and will support a candidate for president who would round up 11 million mostly Latino immigrants, forcibly separate them from their families, and ship them out of the country … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who encourages his supporters to beat up peaceful anti-Trump protesters … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who encourages gun violence to effect political change … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who proposes to impose an unconstitutional religious test for visitors and immigrants, blocking Muslims from entering the United States … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who will use the force of government to go after media outlets that criticize his administration, severely undermining if not destroying the First Amendment’s freedom of the press … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who defends and admires the leadership of Vladimir Putin, the man who has his critics murdered and who turned Russia’s democracy into a dictatorship … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who declares that a federal judge cannot be unbiased (a judge’s most important quality) because he is a Latino … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who basks in the frenzied shouts of his supporters to put his campaign opponent in jail … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who retweets posts from notoriously anti-Semitic hate groups … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president who routinely and publicly calls women he deems unattractive fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.
  • I can and will support a candidate for president whose campaign is based on demonizing millions of Americans as a threatening “other” … because the candidate is a fellow Republican.

Ayotte’s criticizing individual Trump statements while still supporting his efforts to gain the massive power of the presidency is hardly an exercise in leadership.

People in New Hampshire should be relieved that there is, at long last, something that Kelly Ayotte puts ahead of her loyalty the Republican Party.

But they should be terrified at all the monstrous and dangerous things she is willing to accept, since, for Ayotte, political calculations clearly outweigh things like democracy and equality.

PFAW

Demonstrators Send McCain Message That He Was "Too Little, Too Late" In Denouncing Trump

When Arizona Senator John McCain and Representative Ann Kirkpatrick took the stage on Monday night for their one and only debate, theirs weren't the only voices heard at PBS studios in Phoenix.

People For the American Way joined Planned Parenthood, ProgressNow, and other Arizona activists to send a clear message to Senator McCain: he jumped the Trump ship too little, too late.

In her remarks outside of the debate, Stacey Champion, PFAW's Arizona Campaign Organizer, pointed out just how dedicated to the Trump cause Senator McCain has been:

For over a year, Donald Trump has pushed racist, sexist, and bigoted attacks against far too many Americans -- and through it all, Sen. McCain continued to pledge to vote for him. He's made clear he stands with Trump and the extreme Republican Party, not Arizonans.

Senator McCain has been just as dedicated to blocking Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and for the same disingenuous political reasons. As we noted on Tuesday, McCain’s "straight talk" on the Supreme Court exposes that his obstruction has never been about “the integrity of the Court” as he claimed, but rather about his desire to play politics with judicial nominations.

Shame on Senator McCain for not doing his job, and for waiting far too long to dump Trump.

PFAW

PFAW Members Speak Out Against Ayotte’s Plan to Write In Mike Pence

Members of People For the American Way protested Monday outside of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Manchester district office following her announcement that she plans to write in vice presidential nominee Mike Pence instead of voting for Donald Trump, in light of his comments about sexually assaulting women. While it’s high time that Sen. Ayotte acknowledged just how unacceptable a Trump presidency would be, a vote for Pence would be a vote for far-right policies devastating for women and the LGBT community.



“Ayotte’s withdrawal of support for Trump has much more to do with politics than principle,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “Support for Mike Pence’s agenda is little better—a man who has spent his career attempting to redefine rape, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and pass laws to legalize discrimination against LGBT people is also incredibly dangerous. A far better way for Ayotte to display the political independence she so often claims on the campaign trail would be to push obstructionists in her party to move forward on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.”

PFAW

'You Should Resign': Sen. Warren Slams Wells Fargo CEO for Scamming Customers

In a Senate Banking Committee haering last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren was unrelenting in her questioning of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, who was giving testimony on the bank's fraudulent practice of opening unauthorized accounts for customers in order to help meet sales goals.

Sen. Warren is an ardent champion of policies that protect everyday Americans from bilking at the hands of wealthy special interests, especially those in the financial sector. In her questioning, Warren called out Stumpf for making millions of dollars in the Wells Fargo scam, and for showing "gutless leadership" by refusing to resign, fire any senior executives, or even return any of his earnings.

Warren said:

This is about accountability. You should resign. You should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This just isn't right.

Watch the full video here:

PFAW