JANUARY 29, 2015
Last week marked the 5th anniversary of Citizens United and this week we saw the announcement that the fundraising machine run by the Koch brothers intends to raise and spend more money on the upcoming presidential election than the two major political parties. The response at the national level has ranged from calls for more disclosure and strict coordination rules to abolition of candidate contribution limits to allow the parties and candidates to compete with these independent efforts.
The League’s Money in Politics Committee has been hard at work. A reading list has been posted to help our members and others understand the legal and political underpinnings of the rise of independent political actors. (See also the Constitutional Amendment Committee’s newly-posted reading list below). While the decision in Citizens United did not create this phenomenon, it certainly turbo-charged the spending by these shadowy outside groups. In addition to educating ourselves, the League is working to limit the influence of dark money. Last year, the League submitted comments to the IRS on its proposed rule strictly limiting the political activity of 501(c)(4) organizations. Those comments were highly praised and while the IRS withdrew the proposed rule, we expect that another attempt to control 501(c) organizations in the near future. The League also commented on new FEC rules and will continue to comment as the FEC engages in rulemaking to address not just Citizens United but the McCutcheon decision as well.
The League expects that in the 114th Congress there will be legislation addressing the worst abuses and we must continue to push for reforms like disclosure, limits on coordination and public financing for congressional elections. Money in politics is a pervasive problem at all levels of government and while the prospects for passing meaningful reform now may be bleak in Congress, opportunities to make inroads at the state and local level do exist and the League can play an important role in making our politics more transparent and more responsive to voters.
In the end, the only lasting antidote for floods of money in our elections is floods of voters at the polls. The League’s outstanding work in registering and informing voters continues to be, as it has for the past 95 years, the best approach to Making Democracy Work®!
To help keep your members informed, please consider forwarding this weekly message. Please note that this is an internal communication that provides both announcements and opportunities meant only for your members and League, as well as updates on important news and events. This message should not be posted in its entirety on League social media channels or websites. Instead consider sharing the external (e.g. public interest/action) pieces such as blog posts, letters to Congress and press statements.
IN THIS ISSUE:
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
- Voter Registration Toolkits for Reaching Young People, New Citizens (REMINDER)
- Join VOTE411 in 2015! (REMINDER)
EDUCATION FUND - STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
- Education Fund: Key Structures of Democracy: Money in Politics (NEW)
- Education Fund: Key Structures of Democracy: Constitutional Amendment Study (NEW)
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
- Final Days to Update Your Roster! (NEW)
- LWV is 95 Years Strong (NEW)
- Program Planning for Membership Growth (NEW)
- League Joins Amicus Brief in King v. Burwell (NEW)
- Clearinghouse: State and Local Program Planning? Here’s the Plan (NEW)
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
Voter Registration Toolkits for Reaching Young People, New Citizens (REMINDER)
LWVEF updated its popular Empowering the Voters of Tomorrow training manual for 2015! This publication features a step-by-step guide for conducting effective high school voter registration drives. The manual is also chock-full of customizable planning checklists, template media statements, talking points, activity ideas and other materials to help you stay on track and get the most out of any registration event. As a reminder, there is also a naturalization ceremony voter registration toolkit available for Leagues seeking to reach new citizens, as well as guidance for incorporating online voter registration into your community registration drives. Thanks to the many Leagues and other partners who provided feedback to make these training resources possible. Let’s get to work registering new voters this spring!
Join VOTE411 in 2015! (REMINDER)
Does your community have any elections in 2015? If so, the New Year brings a new opportunity for your League to create its own online voters’ guide on VOTE411.org! Nearly 1.5 million voters turned to VOTE411 to get their election information in 2014, with Leagues from 30 states creating online voters’ guides to provide information on over 20,000 candidates. 97% of participating Leagues said they would consider using the program again. If you’re interested in participating in VOTE411 for 2015, please contact Megan Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she’ll help answer your questions and get you started.
EDUCATION FUND - STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
Education Fund: Key Structures of Democracy: Money in Politics (NEW)
The Money in Politics Committee has developed a list of suggested reading material intended to help League members get started in learning about Money in Politics. This is an initial list designed to orient League members and the general citizenry to the issues. Other suggestions will be added to the list in the future.
Education Fund: Key Structures of Democracy: Constitutional Amendment Study (NEW)
The Constitutional Amendment Study Committee has developed a list of suggested reading material intended to help League members get started in learning about the complex topic of amending the constitution through a constitutional convention. Also included are some questions for consideration and discussion.
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
Final Days to Update Your Roster! (NEW)
Summary sheets (the online document that shows your League’s official membership count) are LIVE. Any changes that you make to your members’ records will be reflected on that page. Summary sheets “freeze” on January 31, 2015. The member count listed at that time will become the official membership count for your League for FY2015-16. That number determines the number of voting delegates that your League may send to state convention 2015 and what your League will be billed for PMP (per member payment) starting in July 2015. Have questions about updating the database? You can download the User Guide for step-by-step instructions or email email@example.com with questions. January 31st is this Saturday. LWVUS staff will be available by email between 10:30am - 12pm EST and 4pm - 6pm EST.
LWV is 95 Years Strong (NEW)
February 14, 2015 marks LWV’s 95th anniversary! Throughout the year, LWVUS will be creating resources and materials for Leagues to help mark this milestone. Watch the League Update for tools. To get started, use our sample social media content to share our history and our continued efforts Making Democracy Work®. Use these turn-key messages to activate and excite your League’s online community.
Program Planning for Membership Growth (NEW)
As Leagues gear up for 2015, state program planning meetings are in full swing. These meetings are not only a great time for discussing business and planning ahead, they can also be a social event and even be used to attract new members who are interested in the issues being discussed. You can learn more about program planning on the Member Resources website here, where you’ll find a webinar and a full list of resources to assist your League. You can find more great tips and tricks for using program planning to grow your League and they ways to make program planning meetings fun in the January 2014 MLD Monthly Guidance. This is one of the monthly training tipsheets provided through the Membership and Leadership Development program (MLD) and supported by the Fund for Local League Growth.
League Joins Amicus Brief in King v. Burwell (NEW)
King v. Burwell is the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and it will determine whether tax-credit subsidies can be provided to applicants for health insurance through the federally-facilitated health exchanges or just to those using an exchange established directly by a state. The brief joined by the League focuses on the impact of the ACA on women's health and how the tax subsidies are essential to women's health and critical to the ACA's continued viability.
Clearinghouse: State and Local Program Planning? Here’s the Plan (NEW)
With the start of the New Year, many Leagues often focus attention on state and local program planning. Visit the League Clearinghouse, a great resource for program planning, which features League studies in more than 50 subject areas that provide scope and focus of a topic, research methodology, sources consulted, information about positions, and consensus questions. Note: the Clearinghouse accepts positions without studies, even as multi-position documents, if they are accompanied by a single submission form. The description section could have "Resulting Position:" and the position statement or a link to the position. Complete studies are preferred, and Leagues may add study documents at a later date. Share your studies! Share our strength! Just a click away: http://clearinghouse.lwv.org
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