Making Democracy Work

Money In Politics

Is our democracy in danger of corruption by uncontrolled political spending? [Error: Bad image reference 2015_oct_program_moneybag.jpg]
Does public apathy and cynicism about the undue influence of big money cause low voter turnout? How can we balance free speech rights with equal access rights? What is "dark" money: how does it work, what is legal and what isn't, what can we do about it?

With a major election just a year away, the League of Women Voters studied Money in Politics.

We suggest you start by taking the pop quiz to see how much you really know about PAC'S, SUPER PAC'S, and dark money. You may be surprised!

Consensus Results!
Click here to view the results of our Money in Politics Consensus process!
For a copy of the MIP Consensus Questions, click here!

Dark Money in the News:

A June 2016 NYTimes article titled, The Secret Power Behind Local Elections
Brennan Center for Justice's Michael Waldman, writing about the pernicious effect of secret money at the state and local level, said: "What we found was troubling. In the states we examined, secret spending by outside sources jumped considerably -- from 24 percent in 2006 to 71 percent in 2014. This is largely due to a new phenomenon we've dubbed "Gray Money." This is when organizations, which are legally required to disclose their donors, route money through multiple layers of PACs to obscure its origin. We often think these millions come only from ideologues like the Koch brothers. What we found at the state and local level was even more startling. Mining companies secretly targeting a legislator who opposed permits. Food companies battling a ballot measure to add labeling requirements. Payday lenders supporting an attorney general who promised to shield them from regulation. There is a path forward. States like California have proven that strong disclosure laws and enforcement can make it very difficult for spenders to conceal their identities from the public."

The SF Chronicle's John Diaz on 1/3/16 discussing Anne Ravel's take on dark money, read here!

Thought-provoking piece by Trevor Potter of the Campaign Legal Center, providing a new look at the use of disclosure to reform campaign finance practices, and leads us to question which we really need: new laws and regulations, or better enforcement of existing law.

"Democracy Vouchers" passed in Seattle! Read more.

Maine voted to pass the Clean Election Act! Read more.

For a NYTimes article on SuperPAC donors, click here.

Read an interesting article that underscores the importance of emphasizing civic education and civic engagement along with Money in Politics.

Recent LWVO Events:
Money in Politics Consensus Meetings were held on January 9, 2016 and January 19, 2016 with discussion and voting for LWVO members.
October 15 Money In Politics Program
Our panel included Anne Ravel, Chair of the Federal Election Commission and former head of California's Fair Political Practices Commission. To read more about Anne Ravel, click here. To hear an interview with Anne on KQED's show Fresh Air with Terry Gross, click here.

Paul Ryan is an expert in election law, working for The Campaign Legal Center. To read more about Paul Ryan, click here.

Denise Barber is the Managing Director of Follow the Money. For more information on Denise, click here.

[Error: Bad image reference 2015_oct_program_ann_ravel.jpg]Paul RyanLeft: Ann Ravel, Chair of the Federal Election Commission, former head of California Fair Political Practices Commission
Right: Paul Ryan, Senior Counsel, The Campaign Legal Center

DeniseLeft: Denise Barber, Managing Director of Follow the Money





October 8 LWVO/LWVBAE Event
Our Money in Politics national study this fall kicked off with LWVO's partnership with LWV Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville to host a film showing and discussion. Film producer Holly Mosher The compelling new documentary Pay to Play: Democracy's High Stakes was introduced by its award winning producer Holly Mosher, pictured at left. Holly's previous films on related subjects included Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety and Free for All! on the topic of election fraud.

Two local non-partisan leaders against hidden campaign contributions, Jay Costa, Executive Director of CounterPac, and Miriam Marks, Data Director of Maplight, illuminated some of the questions League members we'll be wrestling with in the new national study on campaign finance.
For details on the event, see LWVBAE's website.

LWV and Campaign Finance
For an LWV history of campaign finance, click here.
The current LWVUS position on Campaign Finance is:
Improve methods of financing political campaigns in order to ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and promote citizen participation in the political process.
Money in Politics - National League
The current LWVC position on Campaign Finance is:
Support state campaign finance practices for candidates and advocates of ballot measure positions which will ensure full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office.
Money in Politics - State League

Send your questions and comments to moneyinpolitics@lwvoakland.org.