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The News for July 19, 2018 – 200 vigils Confront Corruption, Demand Democracy across the country

July 19, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

Last night, thousands of Americans held nearly 200 vigils all around the country to ‘Confront Corruption, Demand Democracy’ in the wake of Trump’s Putin meeting and the new indictments in the Mueller Russia investigation. MSNC’s Rachel Maddow highlighted the vigils on her show and you can check out a sampling of coverage from events around the country including Lexington, KY; Atlanta, GA; Roanoke, VA; Salt Lake City, UT; Terre Haute, IN; St. Petersburg, FL; Carbondale, IL; Springfield, IL; Freeport, IL; Holland, MI; Livingston County, MI; Reno, NV; Syracuse, NY; Fort Collins, CO; Redding, CA; Monroe County, PA; and outside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urged people to join a vigil and “Make your voice heard.” Outside the White House, members of Congress joined activists to demand action to fix our democracy (video here):

  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: “We are living in a new age of corruption”
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley: “We’re facing profound corruption through gerrymandering, voter suppression and dirty money; through Citizens United, which like a sound system drowns out the voice of the people.”
  • Rep. John Sarbanes to Trump: “Why won’t you defend our democracy? If you won’t defend it, we will…We are going to fight big money tooth and nail. Get rid of Citizens United, create citizen-owned elections.”
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal: “You cannot intimidate or fire a Special Counsel investigating you to hold you accountable for breaking the law… Trump’s also breaking the law by violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.”
  • Rep. Mark Pocan: “We need to get out and vote and vote for reform”

You can also find great photos and video of the events across the country on Twitter here. And for statements from organizers of the vigils, check out this press release with statements from Public Citizen, People For the American Way, March for Truth, MoveOn, Common Cause, Defending Democracy, Stand Up America, Every Voice, End Citizens United, and MAYDAY America.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Politico: Poll: Corruption message gaining traction against GOP
New polling from the Center for American Progress: “The Trump administration’s scandals threaten to take a toll on Republicans in battleground districts this fall, according to new polling suggesting ‘culture of corruption’ messaging is gaining traction. Fifty-four percent of voters across 48 Republican-held congressional districts said Republicans are ‘more corrupt’ than Democrats, compared with 46 percent who said Democrats are ‘more corrupt.'”

UVA Today: Only Half of Americans Believe Elections Are Fair and Open, UVA Poll Shows
Another new poll: “As America turns its attention to the upcoming midterm elections, a new national poll from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics shows that only about half of American adults surveyed believe U.S. elections are fair and open.”

TechCrunch: Russian indictments show that the US needs federal oversight of election security
Adam Eichen and Phoebe Wong of EqualCitizens.US: “President Trump’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, on the heels of 12 Russian intelligence officials indicted for hacking the 2016 election, made it clear that this administration has zero commitment to protect our elections from future Russian attacks.These events should remind us of an alarming fact we can no longer afford to ignore: our elections are not secure.”

This tweet from Chicago Votes is really something. In a true democracy, everyone’s voice should matter: “We registered 218 people at Cook County Jail this weekend. Someone told us he felt like he was not in the same class as people who can vote bc he didn’t have money and has a record. We registered him on the spot and we will make sure we contact him again in November to vote.”

Congress/Administration

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke out against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, saying, “Kavanaugh’s record shows he’ll continue to tilt the scales of justice in favor of the rich and powerful and against everyone else… Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated incredible hostility toward efforts to rein in public corruption and to break the stranglehold of money on our political system.”

Politico: Interior watchdog opens probe of land deal linking Zinke, Halliburton chairman
“The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has launched a full investigation into a real estate deal involving a foundation established by Ryan Zinke and developers including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar… The inspector general’s probe will focus on whether Zinke violated conflict of interest laws, the latest official inquiry of Zinke’s activities in his 16 months helming the department.”

New York Times: The Biggest Spender of Political Ads on Facebook? President Trump
“It’s official: President Trump is the single biggest political advertiser on Facebook. Mr. Trump and his political action committee spent $274,000 on ads on the social network since early May”

HuffPost: Fossil Fuel Industries Outspend Clean Energy Advocates On Climate Lobbying By 10 To 1
No wonder politicians aren’t responding to the majority of Americans who support government action to address Climate Change: “Fossil fuel producers, airlines and electrical utilities outspent environmental groups and the renewable energy industry 10 to 1 on lobbying related to climate change legislation between 2000 and 2016, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.”

Ellwood City Ledger: Campaign finance reform group endorses DiNicola for Congress
End Citizens United endorses Democrat Ron DiNicola running against Rep. Mike Kelly in Pennsylvania. Tiffany Muller of End Citizens United: “Pennsylvanians are fed up with Washington ignoring their voices while mega-donors and corporations call the shots… By rejecting corporate PAC money, Ron DiNicola is proving to voters that he is listening and will be accountable to them – not corporate special interests”

My San Antonio: Beto O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz is most expensive U.S. Senate race in America
“The battle in Texas is now the most expensive race for the U.S. Senate in the nation — by a long shot. Almost $46 million has been amassed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke”. And that’s not including super PAC money backing Cruz.

CNN: Campaign arm for House Democrats raises record-breaking $15.2 million in June
“The committee charged with delivering a House majority for Democrats in the midterm elections raised $15.2 million in the month of June, its best fundraising month of the 2018 cycle so far and the latest sign of Democratic enthusiasm ahead of November.”

Roll Call: Democrats Keep Raking In the Cash After Costly Primaries
“On average, Democrats in competitive races who faced expensive primaries have more than doubled their cash on hand from shortly before their primary elections to the end of the most recent fundraising quarter”

CBS: David Letterman gives cash to Democrat facing Mike Pence’s brother in Indiana House race
After a chance encounter to the candidate running against Mike Pence’s brother for an Indiana congressional seat, David Letterman handed her a “wad of cash” he had in his car totaling $1,160. Now she expects he’ll boost her campaign again.

States/Other

Newsday: Ethics measures stall in Albany despite corruption convictions
“Even by New York State government standards, 2018 has been unprecedented in its wave of public-corruption scandals and criminal convictions… Yet Cuomo and lawmakers have failed to adopt any of a raft of ethics measures called for by watchdog groups, including toughening oversight of state contracts, eliminating a loophole that allows companies to ignore campaign-contribution limits, and appointing an independent monitor for ethics and election laws.”

Cleveland: Dark money groups spent millions on Ohio legislative races
“Four secretive political groups raised more than $2.6 million for ads targeting Republican primaries for Ohio House of Representative seats in the lead up to last May’s election, new campaign finance filings show.”

Associated Press: GOP gubernatorial candidate gets public campaign financing
“Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Obsitnik has finally received public campaign financing for the Aug. 14 primary. Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission on Wednesday approved a $1.35 million grant for the Westport tech entrepreneur.”

Guardian: Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis
On the UK: “Dark money can be seen as the underlying corruption from which our immediate crises emerge: the collapse of public trust in politics, the rise of a demagogic anti-politics, and assaults on the living world, public health and civic society. Democracy is meaningless without transparency.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director