“We may have democracy, or we may have vast wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” - Justice Louis Brandeis
“The practice of democracy is not transferred through the gene pool. It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.” - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Eighty-three percent of Americans support the federal government's negotiating drug prices for Medicare. No bills have been advanced to make it so. Since 2003, drug companies have spent $1.6 billion lobbying Congress.
Clean Elections Minnesota is a non-profit, non-partisan group of Minnesotans concerned that the power of Big Money, Dark Money, and Corporate Money is overwhelming the public interest in local, state, and national elections--especially since the Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Citizens United. We're dedicated to educating ourselves and others about ways to maintain and enhance the democratic power of ordinary citizens to resist the rise of oligarchy locally and nationally--and we're committed to putting ideas into action. Although our main energies are devoted to education, we maintain a presence at the legislature when it's in session.
You can become a member of Clean Elections MN for only $25 annual dues. And please consider supporting our work with an extra contribution. We are a 501(c)(3), so both dues and contributions are tax-deductible. To pay on line, click the "Donate" button. To pay by mail, send a check payable to MnCCE (Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections), to Treasurer Jim Herrick, 1780 Lake Street, Lauderdale, MN 55113. Like us on Facebook. We thank you for your support!
On the Calendar
Democracy Talks Book Club, Wednesday, September 18, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m., St. John of Arc. Topics for discussion will be based on Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal. The session will begin with a brief review of the book; the remainder of the discussion will be Q/A. If you're interested in preserving and improving democracy, you're welcome to come. The democracy you save might be your own.
The club will not have a regular meeting in either July or August. On Wednesday, July 10, however, members are encouraged to attend a screening of the film "Big Pharma" from 7 - 10 p.m. in the Community Room, 3412 Oak Ridge Rd, Minnetonka, 55305. The film and discussion are presented by Health Care for all Minnesota.
Next General Clean Elections MN Meeting: September. We're taking the summer off, but "Notes from the Chair" and a Summer Newsletter will arrive on schedule. Be sure to open the Special edition of "Notes" that reprints a warning about the state of our state's democracy. (Click the link below to get on our email list if you aren't already there.)
"Is Democracy Endangered in Minnesota?" -- a talk by renowned journalist and author, Lori Sturdevant. When invited to address the Minnesota Council on Foundations about the state of the state's democracy, Sturdevant expected to be able to brag about Minnesota's healthy political situation. On reflection, however, she identified several potential weaknesses. We were so impressed with the talk that we reprinted it in a special June edition of "Notes from the Chair." We think it should be required reading for all friends of our state's democracy. Click here to do so.
2019 MN Legislative Session is History
Although Clean Elections Minnesota's primary mission is education, we maintain a presence at the legislature to observe sessions of interest and occasionally to testify, In this year's session, we showed up to monitor and testify with these 15 priorities. As the 2019 Minnesota legislative session came to a close, campaign finance reform was blocked by the Senate. A spectacular House omnibus elections bill, which addressed redistricting, dark money, a ranked choice voting local option, restoring the vote to released felons, automatic voter registration, and several other important bills was not adopted. This bill becomes a roadmap for the future. Chair George Beck's testimony to the State Government Finance conference committee is here and on our Facebook page. The legislature also failed to send a resolution to Congress asking for an amendment to reverse Citizens United, even though 19 other states have now done so. That is an embarrassment for Minnesota. We need legislators that will represent their constituents rather than their political party or their big contributors. We will have another opportunity next year.
Help Overturn Citizens United
Act now to support an effort in Minnesota to overturn the Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Citizens United. Follow the link to a Clean Elections resolution to present to leaders in your municipality. For more information, contact Jim Herrick, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support a National Popular Vote Initiative
Frustrated by presidential elections determined by the Electoral College vote rather than the national popular vote? Chair of MnCCE's State Presidential Elections Team Mark Bohnhorst is. In a detailed letter to MN House Elections Subcommittee Chair Ray Dehn, Mark urges support for HR 1941, which pledges MN's presidential electoral votes to the popular vote winner when states controlling a majority of the EC votes agree to abide by the Compact--and consideration of complementary initiatives that would advance the NPV idea. In addition to reading Mark's letter to Chair Dehn, you may also study his detailed paper, "Repairing Presidential Elections" for a legally documented argument for action by the states to ensure that the Electoral College never again trumps the popular vote. From the introduction to the paper:
This paper begins with a sketch of the flaws in our current system. It then (i) traces the current movement for a national popular vote from its inception in 2001 to 2018 and (ii) discusses the opportunities created by the election of 2018 for moving to a system under which the president will be elected on the basis of who gets the most votes. It concludes by identifying some objections to a proposed interstate compact, suggesting some practical steps that resolve those objections and offering some thoughts for the future. References and citations are in the Endnotes.
MnCCE Candidate Survey Results
Click here to view the results of MnCCE's survey of candidates' views on repealing Citizens United, disclosure of campaign funding, and public financing of political campaigns. Look for candidates who were elected in your area. If you don't see a response, contact him or her and ask for a response to the survey questions:
Do you support a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United?
Do you suppose full disclosure of the source of campaign funding, including PACs and Super PACs?
Do you support full or partial public funding of political campaigns?
So far in 2019...
Democracy Talks Book Club, Wednesday, May 15. Discussion ranged widely, as usual, including the following: a description of a canvassing appeal in specific neighborhoods to urge residents to contact the state Senate in support of a list of issues of concern to Faith in Minnesota and other organizations; Hedrick Smith's presentation here on April 28; and Robert Reich's The Common Good.
Chair George Beck testified before the State Government Finance Committee on May 7, 2019 concerning the elections provisions in the House bill, HF 1935. Click here to read a transcript.
Critical Thinking Club, West Metro Chapter meeting, Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to noon. Mark Bohnhorst spoke on "Repairing Presidential Elections: Electoral College/National Popular Vote." Mark is Chair of Clean Elections State Presidential Elections Team. A lively and wide-ranging Q&A followed.
National Day of Reason event, morning of May 2 at the State Capitol. A celebration of the idea that public policy should be based upon reason, evidence, and science. Click here for the Day of Reason Facebook page.
April 28, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, "Taking Back Our Democracy." Author, film-maker and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hedrick Smith spoke, showed his new film, Winning Back Our Democracy, and answered questions. He emphasized the necessity of citizen action to restore and enhance our democracy rather than waiting for the politicians to do it for us. His film reports on six citizen initiatives around the country against dark money, voter suppression, and the broken Electoral College system of presidential election. Co-sponsors: Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections and American Promise. Click here to watch a video of Smith being interviewed by Llewellyn King on his Sirius radio show. Smith has authored several books, including Who Stole the American Dream, which he discusses here.
April 14 YouTube video on Electoral College reform: Chair of the Clean Elections State Presidential Elections Team Mark Bohnhorst was interviewed about how to transform the Electoral College system so that all votes matter. He's optimistic: "Exciting developments are speeding the day when the States will transform the Electoral College and ensure that the winner of the national popular vote is always elected president. This 56 minute video traces the history of the Electoral College--including its birth in the compromise with slavery--and explains recent progress of the state-based movement for an Interstate Compact for a National Popular Vote."
April 20 bi-monthly Clean Elections MN meeting. Patrick Rosenstiel, a Republican, spoke to the meeting in favor of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact from the perspective that the current system of electing presidents harms both parties. Rosenstiel, CEO of public affairs firm Ainsley Shea, described the deleterious impact of the "winner-take-all" method that all but two states use to select their Electoral College electors. Because of this, candidates focus the vast majority of their campaign funds and activity only on the limited number of "battleground states," ignore states that are deemed to be safely/hopelessly "red" or "blue," and tailor their messages to voters in those limited districts. These appeals tailored to a small percentage of citizens may not be in the interest of the US as a whole. The NPV would retain the Electoral College but assure that the winner of the popular vote also wins the election.
On Wednesday, April 17, the Democracy Talks Book Club met for a final discussion of How Democracies Die by Levitsky & Ziblatt. The book includes warning signs, historically based, that a prospective leader has authoritarian tendencies, apply these signs to the Donald Trump, and prescribe changes in US political parties to guard against the death of our democracy.
On Tuesday, April 2, Chair George Beck addressed Metro Move-On at the Uptown Lunds & Byerlys community room, 1450 W. Lake St. in Minneapolis.
Clean Elections Bi-monthly meeting, Saturday, February 23: Bi-monthly MnCCE meeting, 1:00 - 3:30 pm in the Helen Young Room of the Southdale Library, 7001 York Ave S, Edina, MN 55435. University of Minnesota Professor Kathryn Pearson gave a slide presentation on the results of her and Larry Jacobs' research on Transparency and Campaign Spending in last year's elections in Minnesota. Click here to see the results of research. From 2:30 - 3:30 was a social hour with refreshments.
February: "Corporations Are Not People." A presentation in the SPNN Studio in St. Paul by American Promise president Jeff Clements cosponsored by Clean Elections. You can watch a video by clicking clicking here.
May 5: All About Gerrymandering. A presentation by member Peter Wattson at our May meeting. You can review his slides by clicking here.
June: Candidate Survey. Clean Elections MN volunteers distributed a three-question survey to roughly 400 candidates running in primaries for all state congressional offices, constitutional offices, US Congress, and in the special election for US Senate. The results are available in a Candidate Response Spreadsheet. We hope this well help you how to vote in the general election in November. On July 19, Clean Elections MN sent a press release about the survey to more than 100 news outlets around the state plus our nonprofit allies.
September 15: "Money in Politics: How Do We Get Out of the Mess We Are In?" A panel discussion at a meeting of the Minnesota Humanists meeting. MnCCE member Sharon Tornes assembled an impressive panel, including Professor Kathryn Pearson, Senator John Marty and Vicki Barnes, state coordinator for American Promise and Take Back our Republic.
September 7-20: "Dark Money" premiered at the Lagoon theater. Members of the Dark Money book club attended to prepare for a discussion of the events in the film at the September meeting. PBS aired the documentary on October 1 and 6. For more information go to https://www.darkmoneyfilm.com/. Click here to view the trailer.
September 20: "Whatever Happened to 'We the People'?" George Beck, Clean Elections MN Board Chair gave a talk about the impact on politics of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, the presence of Dark Money in elections, the connection between political contributions and legislation, and the flaws on our democracy. St. Louis Park League of Women Voters sponsored the event.
September 8: Redistricting
A presentation at the monthly meeting by Annastacia Belladonna Carrera of Common Cause MN about the mutual relationships among the Census, Apportionment, Redistricting, and Voting. Watch the upcoming session of the MN legislature for proposals related to these four crucial elements of democracy. Minnesota could lose a congressional district (and a vote in the electoral college) based on the 2020 Census.
December 16: George Beck addressed SD 46DFL.