April 4th and 5th, 2019, Jennifer Sullivan (FLA): Greens today met with these legislators: Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (NY) Jim McGovern, Joseph Kennedy Jr, Richard Neal (MA) Russ Spano, Greg Stuebe and Brian Mast. Tomorrow we are planning some in state follow-ups with a couple of potentials.
We did drop offs to Republican Reps of FL – Russ Spano, Greg Steube and Brian Mast and also Joseph Kennedy (MA). We did have a meeting with Richard Neal (MA) that Darlene led a very promising encounter there. Also, that very day he requested #45’s tax returns – since Rep Neal is the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
That night we took a break and enjoyed being studio guests on Redacted Tonight and meeting Lee Camp. Darlene won his autographed book and Kai a t shirt.
Day Five- Back at it in the Senate buildings. The weather was quite nice every day so far. Today cold and rainy, nevertheless we were cooking inside as we had lots of stops. We stopped at Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Bernie Sanders’ (VT) offices’ with our bill for public funding. Keeping in mind we have been targeting POTUS candidates – especially to challenge the HR 1 clause making the bar higher for 3rd parties by raising the amount from $5K to $25K from 20 states. Also Tammy Baldwin (WI) a possible ally. Elizabeth Warren’s (MA) was an interesting office. We looked over to the next door office to watch her on TV speaking in a session. Also had interesting conversations while waiting for the person we needed to see. It was a good connection and Darlene will be following up. He not only took a copy of our bill but also asked us to send it to him electronically.
Our next scheduled meeting was with Rick Scott’s aide who was very accommodating, but had a typical Republican viewpoint on campaign finance reform. Still maybe we made a few points in other areas. Darlene spoke to Puerto Rican statehood. The last schedule appointment was with FL Rep Debbie Mucarsell- Powell’s assistant Courtney Fogwell who was another skeptical Democrat about how funding would work.
Jennifer flew out that afternoon and on the plane I noticed the young woman sitting next to me was studying a binder full of banking papers. I was curious whether she was a student or if she was any sort of aide in Congress. She turned out to be Calli Shapiro, the legislative director for Representative Sean Casten (IL) who was the other rep from the split county (McHenry) that I own property in that we did not have time to see. What are the chances? In any case, we had interesting conversation on many topics – of course public funding of elections – and I just happen to have our bill – right here. From what she said they seem on board with it. Also, very good with other things like opposing fracking – he is on the banking committee so we talked state banks and Wall Street fraud. Monday,
April 6th- Josh Pritchett dropped off our new bill to Alcee Hastings (FL) and I will follow up with Krystal Delores Milam on this because they are on our side. In the first lobby that was done with all Florida reps and senators in 2010 right after Citizen’s United Alcee Hastings was one of the only two who were on our side about this then (the other being Alan Grayson who is not longer in Congress).
So! Now the challenge is to keep this issue on the front burners. This is where all Greens can help. We have the bill that you can down load and get to your representatives and Senators. Visit them, if you can, when they are in your district and do follow up calls. Expect some encouragement for that from us.When reviewing all the business cards that we had of Senators, aides and Representatives it was interesting to see that they could chose plain white or an ivory colored card and that was up to the person. The interesting part was that Democrats all had the union bug on their cards and not one Republican did. So as a member of our GPUS merchandise team, I have informed the other members that we must never stray from having our products union made. This concludes my report.
Kai McCoy (MO): I visited with a staffer at Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver – district 5, Missouri – which is Kansas City and rural areas east of the KC Metro area. She was very receptive to our proposal [see links to public funding pledge and bill here], as Rep Cleaver is very much in favor of HR1 and their office is distressed that it’s likely to be stomped out by the Senate. Cleaver agrees that there’s too much money in politics and supports Move to Amend, which has been introduced. So, we might have an ally in Cleaver. He’s the chair of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy – which oversees Title 18 § 201 (alongside House Ethics committee). [His subcommittee also oversees the Federal Reserve also, which is handy to know.]
Darlene Elias (MA): I met with staff from Darren Soto’s office by the name of Nicole who is a Black Woman. She told us voting is a privilege. We told her it is a right. If we have people representing us in Congress that have antiquated views of voting we will continue to have the perpetuation of the the two party oligarchy.
Jen Sullivan (FLA): Darlene Elias joined us at the perfect time. Our first scheduled appointment was Darren Soto (FL) who is also Puerto Rican so Darlene took the lead on the bill he sponsored about statehood beyond our FL interests and public financing of elections, which she can speak so well to. We met with his senior legislative assistant, Nicole McLaren, who wondered how the high cost would be funded and varying media costs depending on areas. She did understand the inequity with more money meaning an amplified speech. We discussed low voter turn out and races won by very narrow margins. The actual thing that shocked us here was her comment that “voting is a privilege”. We countered that it is truly a right of every citizen and it shocked us most of all because Nicole is African American.
Next meeting was Donna Shalala (FL) with Carla McGarvey, her legislative director and chief of staff. Rep Shalala co-sponsored HR1 and is supportive of campaign finance reform but not overly focused on it. We would like to point out that we always made it a definite part of our every encounter to explain the toxic parts of HR1. This let them know that the jig was up (if they were for holding back 3rd parties) or made them aware if they did not catch such a travesty for democracy in the 400 plus pages of HR1. Most aides seemed genuinely surprised by this. We have heard that the Democrats are planning to piecemeal parts of HR1 to smaller and separate bills to pass at the senate level.
We stopped by the offices of Alexandria Ocasio – Cortez (NY) which was jammed with folks. They would not even give out cards because people were selling them on line. The area around her office entrance was inundated with colorful post it notes of support for her stances and bravery – no other office had anything remotely like this. Can we persuade her to change to Green? Yes we get it that her GND was watered down from our better original, but even in the modified version R’s are opposed.
Last stop was the (FL) Rep for Josh and myself whose staff could not have been more disinterested or friendly. The scheduler, Natali Knight was way too busy and we just chatted and left our bill & FL requests with the receptionist Adam Pakledinaz. Which says a whole lot about those who do not want to meet with the “little people” that they are supposed to be representing and more about all of those who actually lent an ear to actually listen and engage. The last three representatives from my district have all been Republicans and all have stayed in for three terms and then each voluntarily bowed out. This 6 year goal being met gives them life time free health care and a pension on the taxpayers dime. All three are the sort who oppose any notion of single payer health care and scoff at welfare. This has personally fired me up to be more active locally again to expose this. None of them were especially even notable on the national stage – although Ginny Brown-Waite had much influence for collusion deals when she was in the Florida state house.
Next Ayanna Pressley (who co=sponsored the Move to Amend legislation), Jim McGovern and Edward Markey all from MA. Jim McGovern is the congressman who has said he will only take public funding. I had dashed off on the Metro to get the banners for our press conference at the Supreme Court so was not able to attend these meetings. It appears that Senator Markey’s office was the most receptive of all to our public funding message! They said “If you don’t think there’s too much money in politics, you probably have a lot of money”. Josh notes that this office was against funding for the border wall and would be issuing a report on ICE violations and abuses. They were the most talkative, receptive, engaging and responsive of all meetings. They also supported the Green New Deal.
At 3 pm Greens gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court for a couple of speeches about public funding by Darlene and myself and why the NWC was sponsoring this. It was quite breezy, despite that we did get a decent recording. Finished with a photo and we had gotten attention of passers by as well as the armed guards who said we could not hold banners on the steps BUT we could in front of the steps. So we finished with photos and that evening we had the speaker event at Bus Boys and Poets. This included our own Darryl Moch speaking for the disenfranchised in DC, Howie Hawkins speaking about how money affected his past campaigns and speakers form the Policy Institute and another from Public Citizen NGO’s that are our allies on this issue of public funding.
April 2, 2019, Jennifer Sullivan [FLA] and Kathryn Lewandowsky [WA]: Today we met in Al Lawson’s office, Neal Dunn, Stephanie Murphy, Ted Deutch, Val Demmings, Senator Marco Rubio (all from Florida) Mark Pocan (Wisconsin – Judiciary Commitee), Doug Collins (GA), Senator Patti Murray (WA), and Representatives Kim Schrier and Derek Kilmer (WA).
Our first appointment was with Al Lawson’s (FL) legislative correspondent Amber Milenkevich. Rep Lawson supported HR1 and we (of course) pointed out the toxic parts for their future reference. They have concerns about the security of voting on line in party primaries and preferred mail in ballots.
Next we met with Courtney Veach who was the legislative assistant and counsel for Neal Dunn (FL). Thought the most important part of an election was making sure there was a peaceful transfer of power, voted against HR1 , said shorter elections would not reduce costs, felt that money is speech and that a first amendment right is name recognition or slogan on signs. How so you learn about candidates without advertising? Of course we had answers for this. But, not surprisingly, as Republicans they felt that the first amendment set a precedent for elections about just how money talks! In any case they felt that public funding was not a solution.
During the day we stopped into these offices: Senator Marco Rubio (FL) where, while waiting, my throat dried up as we sat there at length and we ended up just leaving the bill and our Florida info. Senator Rubio has always had that sort of effect on me one way or another.
Our Florida colleagues had issues come up just before coming where they could not make it, so we ended up adding the potential FL congress members to our agenda. Better vibes at Ted Deutch and Val Demmings both (FL) and also Mark Pocan (Wisconsin). Kathryn Lewandowsky met with Pramila Jaypal (WA).
Stopped into Stephanie Murphy’s (FL) but never were able to secure a pre -arranged appointment with her Aid Alli Everton briefly. Many Democrats seem as apprehensive of Greens, as we have noticed before. Josh owns property in GA that he pays taxes on, so we spoke briefly at far right Republican Doug Collins’s office. Darlene Elias joined us that evening.
Today in the Longworth Building we spoke with Alison Thomas for FL Rep. Matt Gaetz (Destin area) – Joshua Woodward legislative assistant for FL Ted Yoho and Virginia Poe campaign finance assistant to FL Rep Charlie Crist.
We stopped into the offices of Ilhan Omar- Minnesota, Lucy McBath – Georgia, Tulsi Gabard – Hawai’i, Lauren Underwood – Illinois (where I own property in her district).
We are sharing our bill for public funding only of all elections and decrying the parts of HR1 that hurt democracy by upping the costs to qualify for any current public funding. Also we could resist stopping and and saluting Pramila Jaypal of Washington for presenting the Move to Amend to Congress as sponsor – even though we told her that we do have a Washington Green in town and to expect her in the next couple of days.
It is a shame that some states could not get someone here, but we are trying our best to do your speaking for you on this crucial issue to those who may be potential allies. We also asked Ilhan Omar to please consider joining the Green Party.