Progressive group urges corporations to halt donations to conservative Federalist Society after riot

Published Fri, Jan 15 20211:29 PM EST

  • Demand Justice told CNBC that it wants corporations to stop giving to the Federalist Society after senior member John Eastman, a lawyer and former law professor at Chapman University, spoke at the rally.
  • At the rally, Eastman and pushed the claim that there was voter fraud in the past election. President Trump has erroneously claimed that the election was stolen from him.
  • Eastman reportedly tried to convince Vice President Mike Pence that he had the authority to stop Congress from validating the election.

A progressive group is urging corporations to stop contributing to the Federalist Society after one of the conservative legal organization’s leaders was featured at last week’s rally that preceded the deadly riot on Capitol Hill. Demand Justice told CNBC that it wants corporations to stop giving to the Federalist Society after member John Eastman, a lawyer and former law professor at Chapman University, spoke at the rally.

Several of the companies that have given to the Federalist Society as recently as 2019 have said they would either not contribute to Republicans who challenged the results of the presidential election, or would reevaluate or pause donations from their corporate political action committees. These companies and groups include Facebook, Google, T-Mobile, Verizon and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Federalist Society’s 2019 annual report shows that the five companies combined to give up to $400,000 to the group. The group finished that fiscal year with over $25 million in revenue. That report is the most recent available on the Federalist Society’s website. It is not clear whether these companies donated money to the Federalist Society recently. The next disclosure of donors could come later this year.

“These corporations can either take a stand against those who have supported acts of sedition or they can continue funding the Federalist Society, but they can’t do both,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, told CNBC.

In a statement to CNBC, End Citizens United, a political action committee that has advocated for big money to be taken out of politics, blamed Eastman and the Federalist Society for the riot that occurred at the U.S. Capitol. Tiffany Muller, the group’s president, noted they are going to pressure corporations to end cut off funding for the group.

“We will make sure no one forgets the Federalist Society’s role on that dark day, and we’ll continue pressuring corporations to cease their funding to all traitors and terrorists,” Muller said.

None of the companies mentioned in this story responded to a request for comment. The Federalist Society did not return CNBC’s requests for comment.

The Federalist Society lists Eastman as chairman of its Federalism & Separation of Powers practice group. The Federalist Society’s board of directors includes Leonard Leo, who acted as an outside judicial advisor to President Donald Trump.

At the rally, Eastman pushed the claim that there was voter fraud in the past election. Trump has erroneously claimed that the election was stolen from him. Federal and state officials, including former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, have said there was no widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election.

“We know there was fraud. Traditional fraud that occurred. We know that dead people voted. But we now know because we caught it live last time in real time, how the machines contributed to that fraud,” Eastman said at the rally, while standing next to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Part of Eastman’s speech was included in a tweet by Liz Harrington, a former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Later, as Congress attempted to confirm Joe Biden as the president, Trump’s supporters marched on the Capitol. Scores broke in, and the ensuing riot left five dead, including a police officer. House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, voted to impeach Trump earlier this week for inciting the riot.

“It is alarming that a senior official in the Federalist Society was goading Vice President Pence to mount an illegal coup, and corporations should stop supporting this organization the same way they’ve stopped donations to members of Congress,” said Demand Justice’s Fallon. Demand Justice is a 501(c)(4) dark money group that does not publicly disclose its donors.

Eastman reportedly tried to convince Vice President Mike Pence that he had the authority to stop Congress from validating the election. Pence, who presided over the joint session of Congress that eventually confirmed Biden’s victory, has said that he did not have such authority.

This angered Trump, who tweeted criticism of Pence while the attack on the Capitol was unfolding. Rioters were caught on video chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Eastman recently left Chapman University after his remarks.

Eastman was also reportedly in line to join Trump’s impeachment defense team.

December 30, 2020 letter to Biden and Harris

 

December 30, 2020

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President-Elect of the United States
Biden-Harris Transition Team
1401 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC 20230

The Honorable Kamala Harris
Vice President-Elect of the United States
Biden-Harris Transition Team
1401 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC 20230

Dear President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris,

Congratulations on your decisive victory in November. By a record number, the American people voted for the candidate who believes our democracy works best when every voice is heard and every vote is counted.

From leadership failures during the COVID-19 crisis to the corruption that many Americans believe pervades every corner of government, it’s critical for you to chart a new way forward. As members of the Declaration for American Democracy coalition—a 170+ member coalition of organizations across the issue spectrum representing tens of millions of Americans—we believe strongly that the way to do this is through prioritizing and working to implement comprehensive democracy reform policies, both through the legislative process and executive actions.

These efforts must include:

  • Protecting voting rights by ensuring every eligible voter is able to cast their ballots safely and securely, free from discrimination and voter
  • Ending the corrupting power of big money in politics through reforms that will empower small donors in politics, bring dark money into the light, and strengthen oversight of our
  • Restoring ethics and accountability in Washington by reducing the power of lobbyists and strengthening oversight and enforcement of federal conflict-of- interest rules.
  • Protecting the rule of law by restoring our Constitutional system of checks-and- balances and ensuring that no one in this country is above the law, even the president and his

From your first days in the U.S. Senate through the presidential campaign, both of you have fought to end the dominance of big money in politics and protect the right to vote.

President-elect Biden announced his support for the For the People Act (H.R. 1) during the presidential campaign and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris cosponsored the legislation in 2019.

The For the People Act is the most comprehensive package of anti-corruption and voting reforms since the Watergate reforms Biden supported in the 1970s. It would end the dominance of big money in politics, protect and expand the right to vote, and ensure public officials are working in the public interest.

We urge you to fully endorse this landmark legislation as it’s introduced and debated in the 117th Congress, call for its passage, and use the bully pulpit of the presidency to build public support for it.

In addition to legislative solutions, you can offer a clean break from the corruption of the Trump administration through a series of executive orders and appointments to address these issues.

This starts with signing a robust ethics order for your appointments on day one of your administration to prevent conflicts of interest, undue lobbyist influence, and ensure transparency to guarantee that your administration is focused solely on working for all Americans.

Your administration should also sign an executive order calling for contractors to disclose their political spending, encourage agencies to require more disclosure of corporate spending in our elections, restore and expand upon the precedent of releasing White House visitor logs, and appoint Department of Justice leadership committed to proactively enforce the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Help America Vote Act, among other things.

The prioritization and implementation of these issues would benefit greatly from the appointment of a White House senior staffer and affiliated office focused on a coordinated effort to address democracy reform issues across the government.

Too many Americans have lost faith that their elected officials can address our country’s challenges—from COVID-19 failures to tackling climate change and addressing the scourge of gun violence—because of the power of wealthy special interests in politics.

By supporting, championing, and prioritizing bold reforms like H.R 1 and implementing comprehensive ethics and transparency plans for your administration, we can restore ethics and accountability in government and protect the right to vote.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Signed,

Declaration for American Democracy
20/20 Vision
All On The Line
Alliance for Youth Action
American Oversight
American Promise
Blue Future
Brave New Films
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Center for Popular Democracy
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Clean Elections Texas
Common Cause
Democracy 21
Democracy Matters
Demos
End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund
Fix Democracy First
Franciscan Action Network
Free Speech For People
Government Accountability Project Greenpeace USA
Indivisible
International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)
Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG)
League of Conservation Voters
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
MapLight
MomsRising
MoveOn
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Next Up Action Fund
North Carolina Asian Americans Together
Patriotic Millionaires
Peace Action
People For the American Way
Progressive Turnout Project
Protect Democracy
Public Citizen
RepresentUs
RepresentUs New Mexico
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Stand Up America
Take on Wall Street
The Workers Circle
Union of Concerned Scientists Voices for Progress

Protect democracy by protecting the vote count

The Santa Fe New Mexican, October 31,  2020

My View – Editor’s Pick

By John House

On Tuesday, November 3, or perhaps for days or weeks thereafter, Americans still might not know the final results of the 2020 presidential election. Hopefully, no matter who wins, the loser will gallantly concede and the transition of power will be normal and peaceful. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has indicated that he might not accept the election results if Democratic candidate Joe Biden is the winner.

During a July 19 interview, when asked if he would concede the results if he lost to Biden, the president replied: “I have to see. I’m not just going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.” Later in the same interview, he suggested he might reject the results if he loses because he believes that vote-by-mail would taint the election. Attorney General William Barr, without citing evidence, later echoed that theme, although Christopher Krebs, the head of the president’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has said that he is confident “that your vote is secure.”

In addition, the president’s recently appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ordered critical changes to the U.S. Postal Service, ending overtime pay and removing nearly 700 mail-sorting machines and large numbers of external mailboxes. When called before Congress on Aug. 24, DeJoy vowed to reverse such actions and said that making sure mailed ballots are delivered would be his top priority. Yet, the next day he ordered postal police officers to stop investigating theft that occurs away from postal property. In addition, the president has made remarks that could encourage his supporters to engage in voter intimidation.

All this leads to the probability that this election will not just be contested in the courts. The signs lead to possible interference with the counting of ballots and other, even more egregious acts of interference, such as Republican legislatures in states won by Biden sending to the Electoral College a slate of electors to vote for Trump.

If an election-based power grab does not come to pass, the system will have worked and we can go back happily to our daily lives. If not, it will be up to us to play our part in protecting the legitimate election results and seeing that a proper transition of power occurs.

What can people do in the event of a political power grab? What we cannot do is sit by and watch our democracy stolen from us. We must act. We must exercise our right to peaceful civil disobedience to make it clear that the American people will not accept a stolen election.

Fortunately, Choose Democracy and other nonprofit groups have researched, planned and prepared for such an eventuality. They offer a variety of information and resources to help people across the country effectively and peacefully organize and demonstrate. The Transition Integrity Project and Hold the Line have produced thoughtful analyses and planning documents that can be found online. Protect the Results offers a guide that allows people to enter a ZIP code and sign up for events nearby.

Smart Elections’ Count the Vote initiative and Choose Democracy also are providing a series of valuable recorded training sessions. RepresentUs offers six steps to save the vote at https://represent.us/6-steps-to-save-the-vote.

New Mexico state and local organizations, including RepresentUs New Mexico, Indivisible Santa Fe and Count the Vote-NM also are actively working with these national organizations and will be coordinating local events and actions to bring about an organized, peaceful, popular and firm stand in support of our democracy.

John House, a resident of Santa Fe, is president of RepresentUs New Mexico.

 

Despite no corporate money pledges, Democratic federal candidates keep taking it

Reprinted from New Mexico in Depth

While every Democrat running for federal office in New Mexico this year pledged to not accept money from corporate political action committees, they still benefit from corporate giving.

Funneled to their campaigns from intermediary PACs that gather corporate money and then redirect it to candidates for office, the donations shine a light on the complications Democrats face when attempting to distance themselves from corporate special interests while still raising enough money to run winning campaigns.

Since the landmark Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court ruling in 2010– which opened political campaigns to unrestricted outside spending in elections by corporations, nonprofits, unions, and other organizations—a movement to enact reforms that would limit corporate influence in elections has grown, and found a home within the Democratic Party.

One group, called End Citizens United, encourages candidates to pledge not to accept donations from corporate PACs. Federal rules already prohibit candidates from taking donations from corporations directly.

In New Mexico, Democratic Reps. Xochitl Torres Small in the southern 2nd congressional district, Deb Haaland in the Albuquerque metro area’s 1st district, and Democratic hopeful Teresa Fernandez Leger in the northern 3rd district, have all taken the pledge. Also forgoing corporate PAC donations is Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who is giving up his seat in the House to run for the U.S. Senate.

But despite the pledges, hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations are flowing into their campaign coffers through other types of PACs that raise corporate money. Some belong to their colleagues in the U.S. House or Senate, referred to as leadership PACs. Others are trade association PACs, some of which represent small businesses and professionals while others represent industries dominated by big corporations.

“Democrats criticize corporate political activity and often promise not to take donations from corporations. But that is where leadership PACs come in handy,” said Michael Rocca, professor of political science at the University of New Mexico. “Candidates can take the popular position against corporate money and against Citizens United, but then enjoy the benefit of generous corporate donations.”

Leadership PACs

For decades, the Federal Election Commission has allowed current and former members of Congress to maintain PACs separate from their official campaign committees, often for the purpose of helping their colleagues. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the lawmakers behind these so-called leadership PACs typically have two primary goals: currying influence with other members of Congress through donations, and covering expenses that can’t be footed by their campaigns or congressional offices.

According to Issue One, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the role of money in politics, over 85% of members of Congress maintain a leadership PAC.

“In most cases, the corporation, labor union or trade association is giving to one lawmaker and then that lawmaker gets to call the shots about where that money goes,” said Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One.

With significantly higher contribution limits– they’re able to give $5,000 per candidate versus $2,800 from individuals–leadership and other PACs act as significant conduits for money, and the influence that comes with it.

“[Members of Congress] have a lot to gain from raising this money for their party,” said Rocca. “They can use the money to ask for something in return from more junior colleagues, like their loyalty.”

In New Mexico, federal officeholders are Democrats, and several maintain leadership PACs.

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan has long been a major fundraiser, chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a fundraising organization for House Democrats, from 2014 until the party won its current majority in 2018. This year, he’s leaving the House in a bid to replace Sen. Tom Udall, who’s retiring. He took the End Citizens United pledge in May 2019 to not accept corporate PAC money, and his Turquoise PAC in 2020 is largely dominated by trade associations funds. But in the months prior to his pledge, he raked in about $150,000 in corporate PAC money which he did not return.

Sen. Tom Udall’s Southwest Leadership Fund continues to accept corporate donations, although in 2020 his PAC is smaller than years past, signaling his retirement. Most funds in Rep. Deb Haaland’s Fierce PAC originate from tribes.

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small does not have a leadership PAC. Torres Small is defending her seat in southern New Mexico, largely considered a tossup by political analysts. While she’s taken the End Citizen United pledge, she’s still benefited from over $313,000 in donations from leadership PACs as well as campaign accounts from colleagues, many of which have accepted corporate PAC donations. She’s also received over $52,000 from corporate-aligned trade associations. Individual donations currently make up 69% of Torres Small’s contributions.

Then there’s Sen. Martin Heinrich, not up for re-election this year, whose Lobo PAC is a significant conduit this year for corporate PAC money to other candidates.

Lobo PAC has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in PAC donations from Comcast, Google, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and others. According to an analysis by New Mexico in Depth, Lobo PAC received 52% of its funding in the last two years from corporations.

DISCLAIMER: RepresentUs New Mexico (RUNM) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. As such, we work on issues that are nonpartisan on a cross-partisan basis with persons of all political affiliations and ideological perspectives to accomplish our goals. The intent of any reference to a political person or party made by us in this email is to call attention to the statement or action made by such person or party that pertains to one of or more of RUNM’s goals, not to show favor or disfavor to such person or party. Statements made by other persons or sources reproduced here represent the perspective of the writers or publishers and not necessarily that of RUNM.

This Is the Future That Liberals Want: Say the Democrats win. Then what?

reprinted from The Atlantic, SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

By Elaine Godfrey

If democrats manage to hold the House of Representatives and win back the Senate and the White House in November, the party will have full control of the federal government for the first time in 11 years. Police reform, climate change, and health care are all on their agenda. But before newly empowered Democrats get to any of that, they will very likely pass a relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic crisis. Then, they will aim to fundamentally change how voting and government work in the United States by expanding voting rights, reducing the influence of money in politics, strengthening ethics rules, and maybe even ending the Senate filibuster—reforms they hope will make America’s democracy work better and the rest of their agenda easier to carry out.

“If there is any political capital to be spent, the concerns over democracy reform take a front seat to everything in the agenda,” a senior aide to a progressive senator told me (the aide requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record). It “would mean so much just in terms of building long-term power,” a senior aide to a progressive House Democrat added.

By starting with these reforms, Democrats are taking a risk: They’ll likely have only a short window of time in the majority to accomplish their most pressing agenda items. Prioritizing one item could mean sacrificing another—and failing to deliver on key issues.

But the Democratic lawmakers, staffers, and activists that I spoke with view government and voting reform as a kind of precursor to accomplishing any of their other policy goals. “The first attention will be to the economic implosion, but there are a group of [other] issues on people’s minds,” Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon told me. “We are at that moment where we have to succeed now in restoring the integrity of the American vision.” Democrats have given these process changes, which they call “democracy reform,” top billing on their legislative docket before.

The For the People Act, more commonly known as H.R. 1, was the first piece of legislation the Democratic-controlled House passed in 2019. It contained a grab bag of reforms: establishing automatic voter registration for all Americans, making Election Day a national holiday, ending partisan gerrymandering, requiring presidents to disclose their tax returns, and creating a public-financing system for federal campaigns. These reforms would make it easier for most Americans to vote. They’d also, Democrats hope, make it easier for Democrats to win elections

.READ MORE.

DISCLAIMER: RepresentUs New Mexico (RUNM) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. As such, we work on issues that are nonpartisan on a cross-partisan basis with persons of all political affiliations and ideological perspectives to accomplish our goals. The intent of any reference to a political person or party made by us in this email is to call attention to the statement or action made by such person or party that pertains to one of or more of RUNM’s goals, not to show favor or disfavor to such person or party. Statements made by other persons or sources reproduced here represent the perspective of the writers or publishers and not necessarily that of RUNM.