Political Corruption Activism Opportunities

  • Fight at the State and Local Level for #HandmarkedPaperBallots in Elections #ProtectOurVote

    _handmarkedballot.jpegFirst, some good news. Just days ago, the state Senate in Maine voted to implement Rank Choice Voting for the 2020 elections. And in Massachusetts, a similar effort has just cleared a major hurdle. But, how can we benefit from things like rank choice voting or a national popular vote system if people have to use electronic voting machines that are hackable, broken, and don’t have voter-verifiable ballot paper trails?

    The federal government is not going to save us, for now. So, it’s time to turn to your state and local governments, and that starts with understanding how your state elections operate and who is in charge.

    As of November 2018, 21 states had paper ballot voting. The other 29 are using either Direct Recording Electronic systems, aka: electronic voting machines, or using a combination of paper and electronic voting. Some require paper trails, and some don’t. As of today, the eight states with electronic voting that don’t require backup paper ballots are Texas, Mississippi, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and New Jersey. We’ve included the Ballotpedia page with all of this information and links to each state’s voting policies in the show notes.

    Next, if you don’t already know, find out who the chief election official is in your state and how they got their job. Only 24 states have voter elected Secretaries of State as the ultimate authority over their elections. The rest have a board or commission, a governor appointed secretary of state, the lieutenant governor, or an official elected by the state legislature. As we saw with now Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia during the Midterms, the person or people in these positions have serious power. We’ve included a link in the show notes to help you easily find out how your state election officials are determined. Find out what they stand for and put pressure on them or fight to unseat them if they aren’t supporting voter-verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots.

    And finally, because America has a highly decentralized election administration system, local cities, towns, counties, and municipalities have a fair amount of control over elections. They are the ones running the actual elections on the ground, dealing with election day problems first-hand, and they often handle awarding voting equipment contracts. Even though the state dictates overarching election policies, each town’s election can operate quite differently from another within the same state. Start going to your town and city council public meetings and make noise. Highlight the serious problems with unverifiable electronic voting machines and barcodes, and emphasize the critical importance of hand-marked paper ballots and voter-verifiable paper trails. It is much easier to change minds on this level.

    To learn more about election integrity and the fight for hand-marked paper ballots, check out The Brennan Center for Justice, FairVote, Protect Our Vote dot com, the Coalition for Good Governance, Let America Vote, and Stand Up America.

    And in a related side-note: National Voter Registration Day is September 24th, in case you need an excuse to get yourself or someone you know registered. Vote Riders is hosting registration drives across the country and they need volunteers, so head over to voteriders.org.

    So, if ensuring election integrity in our country is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Fighting at the State and Local Level for Hand-marked Paper Ballots in Elections via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Understand your state and local elections & take action:

    1. Learn About Your State Election Policies&Voting System Paper Trail Requirements

    2. Learn How Your State’s Election Administration Officials Are Put in Office & Fight to Unseat Those Not Actively Advocating for Hand-marked Paper Ballots

    3. Attend Your Local Town/City/County Public Meetings and Advocate for Hand-marked, Voter-verifiable Paper Ballots.

    4 . Learn From/Get Involved With:

    The Brennan Center for Justice 

    Verified Voting 


    Coalition for Good Governance 

    Let America Vote 

    Stand Up America 



    Vote Flipping Claims Underline Urgent Need to Fix Voting Machines (The Brennan Center)

    The scramble to secure America’s voting machines (Politico)

    How Officials and Citizens Can Protect the Integrity of Their Elections (City Lab)

    Groups push lawmakers for hearings on voting machine security (The Hill)

    Voters say touchscreen machines switched their votes in nine Mississippi counties (Salon)

    Georgia’s New Voting Machines Must Be Ready for 2020 Primary, Judge Says (The Wall Street Journal)

    A Top Voting-Machine Firm Calls for Paper Ballots (Wired)

    Voting Machine Security: Where We Stand Six Months Before the New Hampshire Primary (The Brennan Center)


    Posted September 6, 2019; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1303: Election Systems are Not to be Trusted, They are to be Verifiable 

  • Support the Fight to Oust McConnell in 2020

    DitchMitch2020v2.jpgI don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but Mitch McConnell has been extremely unpopular in his own state since the last time he won reelection in 2014. So, even though he currently has a 47 percent disapproval rating and a 38 percent approval rating in Kentucky, we shouldn’t give that too much weight when it comes to defeating him in 2020.

    And this time, we have a new variable: Trump. Kentuckians give Trump a 53 percent approval rating, making Kentucky ninth on the list of states most approving of him. McConnell has hitched his wagon to Trump so closely in the past two years, you can hardly see where Trump begins and McConnell ends.

    And McConnell’s campaign is acutely aware of that. His first campaign ad sprinkles Trump’s praise throughout, while touting how he blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, got Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s confirmations through, confirmed 26 hand-picked conservative federal circuit court judges, and falsely frames the tax bill as a win for the middle class and catalyst for good job reports and economic prosperity.

    The man has been an effective tool of special interests and wealthy conservatives...at the expense of our democracy and political institutions. That’s the point of the ad: Don’t worry about how Mitch accomplished these things, what’s important is that he delivered.

    That’s what we’re up against, and Kentucky political analysts warn that the Democratic base in Kentucky - those that supported FDR, Harry Truman and Alben Barkely - is dying off.

    So, how do we beat McConnell? Well, here are the people and groups attempting to do it and their strategies:


    The PAC End Citizens United has leaned into McConnell’s fight to uphold political corruption, running an ad that shows McConnell’s lifelong resistance to campaign finance reform proposals and his vow to not to allow a vote on the most recent Democratic bill to overhaul campaign finance reform, voting access and ethics.

    A new DC-based PAC called Ditch Mitch has raised over one million dollars very quickly and has already started running ads highlighting McConnell’s fight to destroy the ACA, pointing to data that says the cost of healthcare is an important issue for Kentucky voters.

    Indivisible Kentucky has been waving the Ditch Mitch banner it since 2017, when they first ran a billboard campaign in the state with the message “You Make Us Sick” and “Kentucky Deserves Better” with the hashtag Ditch Mitch 2020. Those billboards have started popping up again and we can expect more from this group as we get closer to 2020.


    In terms of actual opponents, it’s still early, but a few people have thrown their hat in the ring.

    On the Democratic side, healthcare professional Steven Cox, is the only one who has officially declared his candidacy.

    However, Senator Chuck Schumer has been trying to recruit Marine Corps Pilot Veteran Amy McGrath. Despite national coverage of her campaign during the midterms, McGrath lost her run for Representative in Kentucky’s 6th district by a slim margin. Some say her loss was partly due to her vow to not run attack ads against her opponent and that she couldn’t win against McConnell with that approach. *UPDATE*: Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath announces bid to take on Mitch McConnell in 2020

    Matt Jones, a local sports radio and political talk show celebrity in Kentucky, thinks he is the one that can beat McConnell. Despite his sports background, Jones graduated from Duke Law School and is known as an outspoken champion of worker’s rights with pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, and pro marijuana legalization views. And, he has name recognition.

    Mitch will be primaried by C. Wesley Morgan, a former 1 term state Rep and liquor store owner. He says McConnell is a “self-serving senator” who has only moved to the far right because Trump is so popular in Kentucky.


    But doing the bidding of special interest groups and lobbyists has put a lot of money in McConnell’s coffers. According to federal campaign records, he’s got millions more cash on hand than he had this time last cycle, and that doesn’t even count millions raised by other groups and super PACs supporting him.

    In 2014, McConnell was able to rake in $31 million to defeat Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who raised $19 million. This election is going to depend on deep pockets and McConnell has spent his whole life making sure it stays this way.

    So, if supporting those trying to defeat McConnell in 2020 is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Support the Fight to Oust McConnell in 2020 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.




    Support End Citizens United

    Support Indivisible Kentucky

    Support the Ditch Mitch Fund

    Support Steven Cox

    Support Amy McGrath (if she announces)

    Support Matt Jones (if he announces)


    Posted July 5, 2019; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1287: Mitch McConnell is the Forking Worst 

  • Build the Blue Wave: Confirm, Prepare & GOTV for Midterms 2018

    Blue_wave_vote_graphic.pngNovember is coming… and there has been a lot of talk about a so-called “blue wave” that I’m sure we’re already taking for granted. But we must keep reminding ourselves that the wave will not happen because we simply feel like it will. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take our free time and weekends. It’s going to take our limited patience and energy. And it is absolutely THE most important thing we will do in the Trump era.

    With a deluge of voter suppression laws in recent years, voting isn’t easy. It requires research and, depending on your situation, may require time sensitive actions ahead of election day. So here are your steps and resources for becoming a blue-wave-builder as we head into the midterm elections…

    1) Double, triple, maybe even quadruple, check that you are registered and on the voter rolls. Sadly, this is not just an action for people who have recently moved, this is for everyone. During the primaries there were multiple reports of long time residents heading to the polls only to find that they were not on the rolls. Those voters had to fill out provisional ballots. With the Supreme Court upholding Ohio’s purge of voter rolls if voters had skipped a few elections, every single one of us needs to be on guard when it comes to our voter registration status. Go to RocktheVote.org and under the “Resources” tab select “Voter Registration Lookup Tool.” Enter your information to confirm or check your voter registration for your current address. The results are almost instant. It’d be wise to check multiple times leading up to November 6th.

    2) Make sure you, and everyone you know, understands your state’s voter ID laws inside and out…and make time to make changes. Did your name change recently? If you live in a state with a voter ID law, you may need to get a new ID to ensure your name matches your voter registration. VoteRiders.org focuses entirely on helping people understand voter ID laws in their states and get what they need to vote. You can check out their voter ID info cards for each state on their website and/or call their hotline for help at 844-338-8743.

    3) Know your state’s cutoff date for voter registration and absentee ballot dates and rules. When it comes to registering, every state is different. Some let you register to vote the day before election day and other’s have registration cut offs months in advance. Some states’s require certain excuses to request an absentee ballot. Learn these rules for your state and be an evangelist for voting knowledge. Go to RocktheVote.org and under the “Get Ready to Vote” dropdown select “State Information.” There you will be able to easily find your state’s election dates and deadlines and other state-specific info.

    4) Help other people with steps 1, 2 and 3. Whether it’s an elderly family member or neighbor, or just a super busy parent you know, help educate people in your community on your state’s laws and encourage them to not only register, but confirm their voter registration and prepare for voter ID laws. Drive them to the town hall or the DMV if they need a ride, or offer to watch the kids while they go. Support each other in the name of democracy. And don’t forget to share the info social media too.

    5) And finally, join a get out the vote effort. There is so much on the line in this election and the results will impact the country for decades to come, especially the most vulnerable among us. We need people on the ground canvassing and registering voters EARLY. Find a local chapter of a Get Out the Vote effort like Rock The Vote and NextGen America, or GOTV arms of organizations like the ACLU (& check local chapters), the NAACP, NARAL, League of Women Voters, and Let America Vote.

    Together, we have the power to build a blue tsunami in November.

    So, if making sure the blue wave becomes a reality is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Build the Blue Wave: Confirm Voter Registration & Get Out the Vote for Midterms 2018 via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    5 Steps & Resources to Build the “Blue Wave” for Midterms 2018:

    1. CONFIRM VOTER REGISTRATION: rockthevote.org “Voter Registration Lookup Tool” 

    2. LEARN/SHARE VOTER ID LAWS: VoteRiders.org State Voter ID Law Info Cards  

    3. LEARN/SHARE CUTOFF DATES/DEADLINES: rockthevote.org State Information

    4. HELP OTHERS register, check registration, learn dates. Share information in person and on social media!


    Rock The Vote | NextGen America | ACLU (& check local chapters) | NAACP | NARAL | League of Women Voters | Let America Vote 


    Posted June 29, 2018; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1193: Fighting for a representative democracy (Voting Rights and Gerrymandering) 


  • #GetMoneyOut of Politics with @WolfPAChq @AllofUs @JusticeDems @RepresentdotUS

    represent.jpgWe’ve all spent much of the last few years lamenting the increasing polarization of our country, so it’s easy to forget that there is still one thing that most Americans agree on: getting corporate money OUT of politics. In poll after poll, the vast majority of democrats, independents and republicans, oppose the Citizens United decision and see special interest lobbying and election spending as negatively impacting our politics. 

    And that is what makes our current reality all the more troubling. 

    We had the largest mass shooting in US history this year, but Congress is trying to pass NRA- approved gun legislation. We’ve seen devastating damage from some of the strongest hurricanes in history this year, but Trump and Republicans have rolled back environmental protections at fossil fuel industry’s request. We’ve barely recovered form the Great Recession of 2008 and yet our government continues to let the banks run wild and deregulate Wall St. It’s all so wildly out of touch with how Americans feel that we’re actually seeing Republicans just flat out admitting that they’re doing their donors bidding. As they failed to defend their scam of a tax bill, Representative Chris Collins said, on television, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’  

    If there was a ever a time to join forces and come together, it’s now. There are many groups fighting money in politics, but each of them have a slightly different approach. Here are a few we suggest…

    First up, Wolf PAC, founded by The Young Turks, is going state by state to call for a Constitutional Convention. They believe that a new Constitutional amendment is the only way to stop money in politics and level the playing field. You can join up with a chapter in your state and learn more at wolf-pac.com. 

    Next, we have All of Us, which launched We Will Replace You dot org to target corporate democrats, has recently announced that they’ve merged with Justice Democrats. Justice Democrats, as you may recall, is backing progressive candidates that refuse to take corporate or PAC money. Head over to allofus.org or justicedemocrats.org to get involved. 

    And finally, Represent.Us is fighting money in politics by putting municipal anti-corruption laws on the ballot at the local and state level. They’ve already succeeded in dozens of cities and states and are currently defending the legislation that passed in South Dakota and is now under attack. Head over to Represent.us to learn more and join the fight. 

    And, if you’re really hardcore, Represent.Us is hosting the Unrig the System Summit in early February in New Orleans. This 3 day event at Tulane University aims to bring together “the brightest minds from the right and left” to get money out of politics. The lineup of speakers includes MayDay PAC founder Lawrence Lessig, Cenk Uyger of The Young Turks, former White House Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, Richard Painter, Nina Turner of Our Revolution, and Represent dot Us Board members Jennifer Lawrence and Kerry Washington. You can learn more about the summit and register at unrigsummit.com.

    So, if making sure we have free and fair elections and an actual democracy is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Getting Money Out of Politics via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Get money OUT of politics by getting involved with... 

    Wolf PAC

    All of Us and Justice Democrats

    Represent.Us (check out their Unrig the System Summit)


    House Republican: my donors told me to pass the tax bill “or don’t ever call me again” (Vox)

    8 Things You Can Do to Help Get Money Out of Politics (Bill Moyers & Co; 2014)

    4 Solutions to Fight the Corruptive Influence of Money in Politics (League of Women Voters; 2015)


    Posted December 15, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1152: Rise of the oligarchy (Money in Politics) 




  • You Can Transform the Democratic Party via @JusticeDems @DemSocialists & @TheDemocrats

    Square_transform_the_DNC.pngAfter the presidential election, the Democratic National Committee chose to do a “Unity Reform Commission,” but not a public autopsy on the party. To correct that glaring oversight, an organization called “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” formed to conduct an analysis and suggest a new path forward. While this group does not attempt or claim that their report is comprehensive, they focus on some of the party’s most crucial flaws, fissures and opportunities. 

    You can read the full report at DemocraticAutopsy.org, but here is a brief portion from the final chapter of the report, entitled “The Party and the Future"...

    Operating from a place of defensiveness and denial will not turn the party around. Neither will status quo methodology. When discussing the loss of the presidency, we deny ourselves a deeper assessment if the conversation is limited to Clinton and Sanders, what their campaigns and supporters did and didn’t do, and what should have been done. In fairness to Clinton, much of the party’s weakness was in place well before her 2016 run. What must now take place includes honest self-reflection and confronting a hard truth: that many view the party as often in service to a rapacious oligarchy and increasingly out of touch with people in its own base.

    Revitalized progressive populism — multicultural, multiracial and multigenerational — means fighting for genuine democracy. Outmoded narratives and facile calls for “unity” must be replaced with a new vision of politics that is explicitly inclusive and participatory. The party must learn how to speak a populist tongue that is in sync with real advocacy for a clear agenda, putting public needs above corporate profits. An imperative is to find common political denominators that are inspirational and practical, cutting across demographic lines while building foundations for social advancement and a humane future. 

    So, what can you do to ensure this advice is taken seriously and turns into actionable steps within the Democratic Party? Well, you have to get involved and fight for it. That can mean many things, but here are three ways you can jump in and start pushing for reform:

    Many of you have heard about Justice Democrats, the response to the weakness and corporatization of the Democratic Party. Candidates endorsed and supported by Justice Democrats believe in progressive Democratic ideals and policies, but refuse to take corporate donations. They are primary-ing the most corporate Democrats in the country no matter how long they have served in office, such as Diane Feinstein of California. If you believe in this method, head over to JusticeDemocrats.org, read their platform, check out their candidates and start volunteering for or donating to their campaigns. Or, you could become a Justice Democrat candidate yourself. 

    If you’re looking to push the party left by electing more Democratic Socialists, a la Bernie Sanders, then you may want to get involved with the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. DSA candidates had some big wins in local elections around the country in November and you can help build on that momentum by donating or volunteering to support DSA candidates at DSAUSA.org. Or, once again, you could become a DSA candidate yourself. 

    And finally, remember that the Democratic Party is made up of the people that show up. So, if you want the Democratic Party to change, then you are going to want to find your local DNC Chapter and show up. Be ready to face resistance when you’re inside telling them what they are doing wrong, but more progressives getting involved in the DNC on the local level is never a bad thing. The website for the Association of State Democratic Chairs is a good place to start. Head over to ASDC.democrats.org to find your state party and drill down to find your local chapter. And, of course, you could always become a candidate yourself.  

    At the end of the day, this is an all of the above strategy and change can only be made through pressure from both outside and within. So get behind the method you feel most strongly about and together we might be able to make the Democratic Party the party of the people again.  

    So, if making Democrats wake up to their failures and pushing them to change course is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Transforming the Democratic Party via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Read the report: Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis

    Get involved with Justice Democrats (or become a candidate!)

    Get involved with Democratic Socialists of America (or become a candidate!)

    Get involved in your local Democratic National Committee chapter (or become a candidate!)


    Posted November 28, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1148: Understanding the past to rebuild for the future (Democratic Party)


  • Fight Corruption to Save America via @JusticeDems @WolfPAChq @RepresentDotUs

    liberty_and_justice_for_sale.pngAs our country marks its 241st birthday, this year of all years is especially ripe for reflection. Where we’ve been heading and where we are right now - politically and socially - is disturbing to say the least, but we can still change course. If nothing else, as Americans we can be proud of our track record of change and progress. It may be made with two steps forward and one step back, but eventually we get there. 

    But we don’t get there because of famous politicians and speeches. We get there because people like you care enough to get involved and push us in the right direction. So, today we’re highlighting three effective ways you can roll up your sleeves and fight corruption and money in politics - the primary sources of our ills as a nation. 

    If you’re passionate about pushing for change from the inside, get involved with Justice Democrats. Justice Democrats believes that the Democratic Party’s alignment with Wall Street over working men and women has allowed Republicans to take over most state legislatures, most governorships, Congress, and the presidency. Their plan is to promote quality, progressive candidates to replace corporate-backed Democrats and in turn, rebuild the Democratic Party from scratch to be a party that fights for a clear progressive vision. Visit JusticeDemocrats.com to read about the candidates and get involved. 

    if you want to work locally on an issue campaign to fight corruption nationally, get involved with Represent Us. In communities across America, Represent.Us members – including conservatives, progressives and everyone in between – are working together to pass local Anti-Corruption Acts. In 2016, Represent.Us members passed the first statewide Anti-Corruption Act in South Dakota (state Republicans repealed it earlier this year). But this isn’t one size fits all: every municipal and state Anti-Corruption Act creates their own common-sense ethics, conflict-of-interest, transparency, and campaign finance laws. State Acts create the opportunity for federal candidates from that state to campaign on the anti-corruption platform – accountable to their constituents, not special interests. Head over to Represent.Us today to find your local chapter and get involved. 

    And finally, if you’re passionate about bypassing Congress and using the states to make change, get involved with The Young Turks’ organization Wolf PAC, which you’ve been hearing about on this show for years. Their plan to save democracy in the United States is by getting a much needed amendment to the Constitution that will establish elections which are free of the corrupting influence of money in our political system and fair enough that any citizen can run for office - not just millionaires and their allies. Go to Wolf-PAC.com to find out how you can get involved in your state and help bring us one step closer to passing the Free and Fair Elections amendment. 

    All three of these movements are worth your time and are working in concert with each other, not at odds with one another. So pick the one that fits your style and passion and get involved. 

    The turn of the century activist, social worker, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Jane Addams, once said...

    “Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.”

    Now that’s a brand of patriotism we can get down with. 

    So, if fighting the forces that continue to leach power from the people is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Fighting Corruption to Save America via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



    Replace corporate-backed Democrats with Justice Democrats

    Help pass local Anti-Corruption legislation with Represent.Us

    Help pass the Free and Fair Elections Constitutional amendment with Wolf-PAC


    The Logical Path to End Corruption (Wolf-PAC)

    South Dakota GOP uses 'emergency' rules to repeal anti-corruption law (CNN)

    What the Single-Payer Loss Reveals About the Role of Corporate Money in California Politics (In These Times)

    House Bill Would Ax Election Panel, Bar Limits on Money in Politics (Bloomberg BNA)

    Pro-Trump super PACs have already spent $1 million on Election 2020 (The Center for Public Integrity)


    Posted July 4, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman


    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left #1117: We were founded to resist corruption, now it’s all we know



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