April 3, 2019
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.