| Get the Picture

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The corruptive effects of unlimited political spending are cropping up in states across the country, with untraceable dark money spending surging in state elections in the decade since Citizens United

In Maine, national political action committees and donors outside the state are pouring record amounts of money into the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Susan Collins and challenger Sara Gideon.

In Ohio and Illinois, multimillion-dollar bribery and corruption political-spending scandals have led to criminal charges against elected officials.

In Alaska, political spending from undisclosed sources grew from 6% to more than 60% from 2006 to 2014, which is why Alaskans have come together to push forward a ballot initiative to increase transparency and make the state the 21st to formally call on Congress for the 28th Amendment. 

Two common threads underlie these and similar situations in states nationwide: Ultra-wealthy special interests looking to sway policy and gain favors through political spending; and citizen-led movements in these same states demanding an end to this corrupt system through the 28th Amendment. 

You and many others are realizing it’s time to speak up — for the future of our democracy and our local communities, our states, and our nation. Read on for inspiration from the stories of citizen-led action in states nationwide.

Easy Action Item

Azor Cole
State Manager, American Promise
Jeff Clements: Big-Dollar Bribery Cases in Ohio and Illinois Highlight Need for Reform
American Promise has a strong network of grassroots volunteers in Ohio, one of two states where elected officials recently have been charged in bribery schemes. American Promise President Jeff Clements, right, joined Ellen Greene Bush and others with the Port Clinton, Ohio, American Promise Chapter for an event in 2018.
What do two recent big-dollar bribery scandals in the Midwest have to do with politics as usual? Unfortunately, quite a lot, writes American Promise President Jeff Clements in a recent op-ed published by the Fulcrum. In these recent multimillion-dollar political spending schemes in Ohio and Illinois, wealthy groups and companies sought to secure subsidies, tax breaks and competitive advantage—with taxpayers footing the bill.
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Pete Dufour: It’s Time for Maine Candidates to Stand with Maine Small Businesses

Amid a flood of outside money pouring into Maine before its U.S. Senate election, Mainers like Pete Dufour are frustrated that they have to compete for the candidates’ attention. Dufour, who owns Dufour Tax Group LLC in Portland, recently wrote an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News to share how Mainers, including small business owners, are coming together to Stand with Maine.
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Know someone who lives in Maine? Encourage them to speak up for their state and against the influx of money in the U.S. Senate election there. Share the Stand with Maine campaign and encourage them to sign the petition and protect the right of Mainers—not wealthy out-of-state special interests.
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| Candidate Pledge Signers
Every week more and more candidates sign our candidate pledge. Here, we highlight a few recent pledge signers from Ohio and celebrate their commitment to serving all Americans equally. Help us lift these candidates by downloading their pledge graphics from the link below and sharing on social media, making sure to tag the candidate and American Promise. 
Here are other recent pledge signers:
  • Charlotte Owens, Candidate for Ohio State Representative, District 78
  • Ashley Aune, Candidate for Missouri State Representative, District 14
  • Erin Spencer, Candidate for New Hampshire State Representative, Rockingham 6
  • Michael Smith, Candidate for Delaware State Representative, District 22
  • Joanna Cattanach, Candidate for Texas State Representative, District 108
Share Who Has Signed the Candidate Pledge
| Dysfunction on Display
The issue: Multimillion-dollar political bribery scandals in Ohio and Illinois have led to criminal charges against election officials and serve as further evidence of the corruptive influence of ultra-wealthy election donors.

The action: Stand up for your political voice by asking your elected officials to sign the American Promise Candidate Pledge and promise to advance the 28th Amendment to reduce the influence of money in politics. These pledges encourage leadership, action, and change for a stronger democracy! 
| National Business Network
“A lot of people think their vote doesn’t matter, and all this talk about democracy is just talk.” In this video, National Business Network member and supporter Rebecca Henderson examines why Americans are rightfully frustrated with our political system and discusses the role of business in repairing our democracy. Find it and other videos on the National Business Network YouTube playlist.
Watch the Video
| State Highlight: Alaska
Alaska on Track to Become 21st State Calling for Amendment 

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers from across the state, this fall voters in Alaska will weigh in on four election reform measures, including one that would make Alaska the 21st state to call for a constitutional amendment limiting the influence of money in politics. Follow this newsletter for updates as Alaskans work together for better elections. 
| Upcoming American Promise Events

September 15: Join us for our second quarterly Citizen Leader Book Club call. To celebrate Constitution Day and the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, author Elaine Weiss will discuss her latest book, “The Woman’s Hour,” which examines the decades-long suffragist movement that led to white women gaining the right to vote with the 19th Amendment. The call starts at 8 p.m. ET. Sign up here!

September 17: In observance of Constitution Day, Beverly Churchill, President of Alaska Move to Amend, will discuss how to amend the Constitution and provide a brief history of several amendments. Bill Hall of Alaska Common Ground will moderate a Q&A session as part of this virtual event hosted by Anchorage Public Library, Alaska Move to Amend, Alaska Common Ground, and America Promise. 7 p.m.-9 p.m. XT. Learn more and join this event on Zoom.

More online: Watch the American Promise calendar for event updates and check our YouTube Channel for recordings of many of our past events.

| What We’re Tracking This Week

From FiveThirtyEight: Check this state-by-state guide to voting during COVID-19 for the plans in your state this fall. It is regularly updated, but be sure to verify information with your local election officials. Check your state’s current voting guidelines.

From the Brennan Center for Justice: Most of the state attorneys general involved in the current legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — were elected with corporate backing, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy says in this analysis piece. She highlights a new report by the Center for Political Accountability called Conflicted Consequences that examines corporations’ political spending since Citizens United. Read more.

From Sludge: Spending to influence state elections by LLCs and nonprofit groups has surged in the decade since Citizens United, but some states are strengthening disclosure laws. The ability for states to set meaningful disclosure requirements scored a significant win in June, when the Supreme Court said it would not reconsider a strong Montana law requiring dark money groups to register with the state as PACs if they run campaign ads referring to a candidate or ballot issue. Read more.

From the Center for Responsive Politics: A newly launched online database provides details about political ad spending on Google and Facebook. The database includes over 80,000 online political advertisers, more than four times the number of committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. Read more and check the database.

From Facing South: As voting rights advocate Evan Malbrough says in this op-ed, our role as citizens requires more than voting. “It also involves paying attention to when our elected officials ignore us, or operate in a way that harms our communities, and holding them accountable — in elections, yes, but also between elections,” Evan says, so that everyone has an equal voice in our democracy. Read more.

From Sludge: Oregon is one of only five states with no limits on corporate contributions to candidates. But a ballot initiative this fall to amend the state constitution would authorize the state Legislature and local governments to set limits on campaign contributions and spending, require greater disclosure of political spending, and require that political ads identify the people paying for them. Read more.

American Promise empowers Americans to act together to win the 28th Amendment so people, not money, govern in America.
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