Notes from Nov. 22 CUEPB Meeting
The meeting was hosted by Jules Levine in the Boston University Law School. These notes are open to editing by anyone attending.
Clean Election Law History in Massachusetts
Jules described the 1998 passage of a Massachusetts Clean Election Law by ballot initiative in just two years, thanks to overwhelming (66%) support. The law provided for $17 million per year (0.1% of the state budget) to be distributed to viable candidates (determined by poll standings, signatures and number of donors.) The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the law needed to be either funded or repealed. There was not enough grass roots organizing to prevent its repeal by another vote. The lesson is that legislators will not cut their own funding without tremendous pressure from their constituents.
Three states currently have public financing of elections: Maine, Arizona and Connecticut. The U.S. Supreme Court requires that there be an "opt out" clause that allows any candidate to spend their own money if they choose.
Campaign Finance Reform Groups
Recent developments in the many groups organizing around this topic were discussed, especially the funding of United Re:public, which now has prominent staff on salary and is offering grants for groups or individuals with strategies to heighten awareness or build coalitions.
January 20 Event
Jenn will apply for one of the United Re:public grants to buy props for the January street theatre event she is spearheading. This might allow several sets of props that could be used at different sites. Jenn needs help with the script quickly. We will all spread the word to actors, comedians, political activists. A good script will need a comic writer with extensive political awareness. Jenn will organize a meeting the first week of December to get the project rolling. Heleni warned that a permit should be requested ASAP since that's a busy weekend for demonstrations and events. Laura and Marissa will help get this going. Susi will create a page for the event on this wiki once Jenn provides some descriptive text.
Heleni will organize a training session for those interested in lobbying the State House once they're back in session. We want at least 20 people to make the training worthwhile. It would be good to have a couple of proposed bills in mind for our support.
Laura will work with a Coffee Party connection to analyze proposed bills. We can discuss these on this wiki until there's time to debate them in a meeting. Susi will transcribe their donated notes onto the wiki.
We will keep raising awareness of this issue and this Working Group in a few ways: Laura and Honi will organize an Open Discussion on a few chosen bills; Heleni and Marissa will arrange for a Civil Liberties professor to speak through Free School University.
Our next meeting will be next Wednesday evening, Nov. 30 at a private "House Party" which will include work and planning for the Jan. 20 street theatre event. Those interested should drop a comment here or on the listserve to get details. The House Party is a joint effort by Move To Amend, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Free Speech for People. CUEPB will see what connections we can make and how we can collaborate.