On April 2, the Supreme Court issued its disastrous decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, knocking down aggregate contribution limits and further opening up the floodgates to big money in our elections. The American people were quick to respond. On the day of the decision, activists participated in response rallies across the country in over 140 municipalities in 41 states, demonstrating that the conservative 5-4 majority of the Roberts Court was once again acting out of step with the American people.
But rallying could only take us so far. In the wake of the decision, People For the American Way, in coordination with Public Citizen, helped organize in-district meetings and petition deliveries in congressional and senate district offices during the “spring recess” that immediately followed the McCutcheon decision. The initiative was supported by Public Campaign, PCCC, US PIRG, Common Cause, and the Communication Workers of America.
In total, activists made over 100 petition deliveries to congressional offices and held roughly 20 meetings with congressional staff or their members of Congress. In addition to advocating for a wide range of reforms to solve our country’s money in politics problem, the initiative primarily focused on the small donor-empowering Government By the People Act (HR 20) and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous decisions like McCutcheon and Citizens United.
[Pictured: 13 activists meet Senator Hirono's state director]
Although all of the meetings were vital for raising awareness on the issue of money in politics and the need for legislative and constitutional remedies, some meetings had immediate, and even surprising, results.
In Hawaii, activists met with and delivered petitions to the offices of Senator Mazie Hirono and Senator Brian Schatz on Friday, April 25. By the following Thursday, both senators – neither of whom had endorsed an amendment to fix our campaign finance system in the 113th session – were co-sponsoring SJRes 19, one such proposed amendment.
In Alaska, activist Sam Dunham and his baby (pictured above) delivered petitions to the office of Senator Mark Begich on behalf of the thousands of Alaskans who have signed petitions calling for an amendment. Although the senator was out of the office and unable to receive the petitions personally, he was so enthused by the effort that he recorded a thank you video:
To date, the Government By the People Act has 148 co-sponsors in the House – a number that continues to grow by the day. And no more than one week following the spring recess initiative, Senator Chuck Shumer announced that the United States Senate would vote on a constitutional amendment to undo the harm of decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon this year.
The engines of major reform are beginning to rumble.