RepresentUs

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RepresentUs
Represent Us logo.svg
Founders
TypeAdvocacy
PurposeAnti-corruption reform, lobbying reform, election reform, government transparency
Location
Websiterepresent.us

RepresentUs is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in November 2012 that advocates for state and local laws based on model legislation called the American Anti-Corruption Act. It is a proposal to overhaul lobbying, transparency, and campaign finance laws. RepresentUs is headquartered in Florence, Massachusetts and is supported by a national network of volunteer-led chapters.

Strategy[edit]

RepresentUs proposes the passage of anti-corruption laws through the ballot initiative process in cities and states to avoid political gridlock at the federal level.[2] The laws, based on model legislation called the American Anti-Corruption Act, are designed "to protect communities from corruption and build momentum for national reform."[3] Locally initiated ballot measures allow citizens to vote on its policy proposal directly.

RepresentUs places a heavy emphasis on grassroots organizing by using a staff of organizers to help manage a national network of volunteers and volunteer-led chapters.[4] The organization also relies on a large social media following in platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit to draw attention to its public education and advocacy campaigns.

RepresentUs is a nonpartisan organization with a board, staff, and membership composed of liberals, conservatives, and independents. The organization does not endorse or oppose political candidates so that it maintains a nonpartisan stance.

Organizational structure[edit]

Represent Rockford, a volunteer-led RepresentUs chapter based in Rockford, Illinois

RepresentUs includes two separate but closely affiliated entities: RepresentUs Education Fund 501(c)(3) and RepresentUs 501(c)(4):

RepresentUs Education Fund 501(c)(3) engages in public education, "movement building," and advocacy. It produces written and multimedia content for The Bulletin, an online blog chronicling campaign finance related news.

RepresentUs 501(c)(4) engages in legislative lobbying efforts to support the passage of anti-corruption laws at the municipal, state, and federal levels.

Chapters[edit]

The advocacy work is supported by a national network of volunteer-led chapters. Each chapter is led by local volunteers, who organize public education and engagement activities to build support for local anti-corruption initiatives.[5] RepresentUs has more than 40 local chapters across the United States, including chapters in Tallahassee, Florida; Rockford, Illinois; Roanoke Valley; and New Orleans.[6]

Funding[edit]

Represent San Francisco, a volunteer-led RepresentUs chapter based in San Francisco, California

Funding for RepresentUs comes from individual donations and grants from philanthropic foundations. It does not accept money from governments, intergovernmental organizations, political parties, or corporations so that it avoids their influence.[citation needed] RepresentUs lists its donors on its website.[7]

Campaigns[edit]

American Anti-Corruption Act[edit]

The American Anti-Corruption Act (AACA) is a piece of model legislation designed to limit the influence of money in American politics by overhauling lobbying, transparency, and campaign finance laws.

It was written by former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Trevor Potter, in consultation with Professor Lawrence Lessig and other constitutional lawyers and scholars.[8] Its authors maintain that the legislation is fully constitutional and compatible with the Supreme Court's decision Citizens United v. FEC and subsequent federal court rulings.[9]

Its stated goals are the following:[8]

  1. "Stop political bribery, making it illegal for politicians to accept money from the special interests they regulate."
  2. "End secret money, making political spending public and transparent so Americans can know who's buying influence in the election process."
  3. "Give every voter a voice, changing how elections are funded by moving toward small-dollar, voter funded campaigns."
Represent George Mason, a volunteer-led RepresentUs chapter at George Mason University

2016 election[edit]

RepresentUs members supported 13 successful state and local Anti-Corruption Acts and Resolutions in the 2016 election:[10]

State[edit]

  • South Dakota Initiated Measure 22 (IM-22) — An anti-corruption initiative backed by local ballot committee South Dakotans for Integrity and supported by grassroots RepresentUs members. IM-22 is the most sweeping political reform package ever passed at the statewide ballot. The measure overhauls state campaign finance laws, bans secret, unlimited gifts from lobbyists to politicians, requires greater transparency of political money, and toughens state ethics law enforcement.[11][12]
  • Maine Question 5 — Establishes a ranked choice voting system for statewide elections in Maine.[13]
  • Missouri Amendment 2 — Limits individual contributions to candidates for state or judicial office to $2,600 per election and to political parties to $25,000. Prior to the passage of Amendment 2, Missouri had no limits on donations by individuals and corporations to candidates and political parties.[14]
  • Rhode Island Question 2 — Restores the state ethics commission's constitutional authority to police ethics violations by members of the General Assembly.[15]
  • Washington Initiative 735 — A statewide call to overturn Citizens United v. FEC[16]
  • California Proposition 59 — A statewide call to overturn Citizens United v. FEC[17]

Municipal[edit]

  • San Francisco, California, Proposition T (Prop T) — A city proposition that bans gifts from lobbyists to elected officials and prohibits lobbyists from contributing to officials and candidates and lobbyists from bundling contributions.[18]
  • Berkeley, California, Measure X1 — Encourages candidates to limit contributions to their campaigns to no more than $50 per person and only from Berkeley residents. Measure X1 then rewards these candidates with six dollars of public financing for every one dollar they raise in small contributions from Berkeley residents.[19]
  • Howard County, Maryland, Question A — An amendment to the county charter that enables the county council to establish the Citizens Election Fund and small donor campaign finance system for county council and county executive races.[20]
  • Benton County, Oregon, Measue 2-100 — Establishes a ranked choice voting system for local elections.[21]
  • Multnomah County, Oregon, Measure 26-184 — Limits contributions from individuals and PACs to $500, limits independent spending, and requires disclosure of true original sources of principal funders of political ads.[22]
  • Boone County, Illinois, Anti-Corruption Resolution — A ballot question calling on local and federal officials to pass anti-corruption reforms based on the American Anti-Corruption Act.[23]
  • McHenry County, Illinois, Anti-Corruption Resolution — A ballot question calling on local and federal officials to pass anti-corruption reforms based on the American Anti-Corruption Act.[24]

Other city and state Anti-Corruption Acts and Resolutions[edit]

City and state Anti-Corruption Acts are modeled after the American Anti-Corruption Act, whose provisions serve as a model for state and local law. They are initiated by local RepresentUs chapters, which receive technical and organizational support from national campaign staff.[25] Voters in Tallahassee, Florida,[26] and Seattle, Washington,[27] have approved reform legislation based on the Act.

Anti-Corruption Resolutions are public mandates demonstrating support for Anti-Corruption Acts by the electorate. Anti-Corruption Resolutions have been passed in the following locales:

RepresentUs volunteers in Washington, D.C.

Tallahassee, Florida, Anti-Corruption Act[edit]

In 2014, voters in Tallahassee, Florida, approved a city charter amendment modeled after the AACA. The law established a city ethics commission,[34] imposed stricter contribution limits on candidates for city office, and created a public financing system. The initiative passed with the support of a politically diverse coalition of local advocates, including the Chair of the Florida Tea Party Network, the former President of the Florida League of Women Voters, the Chairman of Florida Common Cause, and a former Democratic County Commissioner.[26]

The new ethics laws put in place by the Tallahassee Anti-Corruption Act limit campaign contributions to city candidates to $250 per donor, provide each voter with a tax rebate of up to $25 to contribute to the candidate of their choice, enact an ethics code that includes conflict-of-interest policies, and establish an ethics board to enforce the rules.[26]

Gil Fulbright and the Honest Gil Campaign[edit]

Gil Fulbright is a satirical presidential candidate created by RepresentUs designed to bring attention to corruption.[35] Played by actor Frank Ridley, Gil ran a fake Senate campaign in Kentucky in 2014.[36] In 2016, the character announced a run for president of the United States.

Gil Fulbright's presidential launch video garnered over 1 million views in less than 24 hours.[37] Fulbright went on to beat several real candidates in a 2016 presidential straw poll,[38] and out-fundraised Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee.[39]

Annual conference[edit]

RepresentUs held its first conference called the "Unrig Summit" in February 2018 in New Orleans.[40][41] In March 2019, 2,000 attended the conference in Nashville, including United Nations official Kate Gilmore, gun control advocate Emma González, voting rights activist Desmond Meade, and actress and comedian Sasheer Zamata, who spoke to attendees.[42][43] Leading up to the conference, actress Jennifer Lawrence (who is a RepresentUs board member)[42] released a short film detailing the organization's political aims to a general audience.[44] According to RepresentUs, the summit is the largest national event that attempts to address underlining causes of dysfunction in US government.[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The BoF Podcast: Joshua Graham Lynn on the 'Vast Ring of Influence' in American Politics". The Business of Fashion. 2019-02-19. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  2. ^ "Sick of Money Corrupting Politics? Take the Fight Local". BillMoyers.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  3. ^ "About the Campaign - Gil Fulbright". Gil Fulbright. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  4. ^ "All Is Not Lost: How to Win Money-in-Politics Reform". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  5. ^ "About". RepresentUs. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  6. ^ "Start a Chapter". Congress won't fix corruption. We will. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  7. ^ "Full Donor List". RepresentUs. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  8. ^ a b "Trevor Potter Helps Craft & Launch the American Anti-Corruption Act". Campaign Legal Center. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  9. ^ "New Group Unveils Its Plan to Get Money Out of Politics". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  10. ^ "Check election results on corruption measures". End corruption. Defend the Republic. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  11. ^ "South Dakotans for Integrity". South Dakotans for Integrity. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  12. ^ Overby, Peter (2018-10-30). "Voters Could Clamp Down On Ethics, Campaign Finance At The Ballot Box". NPR. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  13. ^ "The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting". The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  14. ^ "Return Government To The People | The Official Campaign Website". returntothepeople.com. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  15. ^ RI, Yes On 2. "Yes On 2". Yes On 2. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  16. ^ "Vote Yes I-735". www.wamend.org. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  17. ^ "Overturn Citizens United Yes on 59". Overturn Citizens United Yes on 59. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  18. ^ "www.yesonpropt.org". www.yesonpropt.org. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  19. ^ "Yes on X1 - Fair Elections for Berkeley". www.yesonx1.org. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  20. ^ "Fair Elections Howard - Vote Yes on A on November 8". Fair Elections Howard. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  21. ^ "Better Ballots For Benton County | Ranked Choice Voting". Better Ballots For Benton County | Ranked Choice Voting. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  22. ^ "Honest Elections Multnomah County". Honest Elections Multnomah County. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  23. ^ "RepresentUs Rockford | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  24. ^ "Represent McHenry County | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  25. ^ "Start a Chapter". Congress won't fix corruption. We will. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  26. ^ a b c "Tallahassee Voters Said No To Big Money, Corruption In City Politics". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  27. ^ "'Democracy vouchers' win in Seattle; first in country". The Seattle Times. 2015-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  28. ^ "Princeton Council Passes an Anti-Corruption Resolution | Patch". Princeton, NJ Patch. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  29. ^ "Genoa Township anti-corruption ballot questionThe Rock River Times | The Rock River Times". Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  30. ^ a b "Editorial: Princeton Council takes lead role in local campaign finance laws". NJ.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  31. ^ "Ewing becomes second N.J. town to pass anti-corruption resolution". NJ.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  32. ^ a b "County voters to see anti-corruption measure on ballot". Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  33. ^ "Roanoke City Council Passes Anti-Corruption Resolution". Roanoke Star. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  34. ^ "Independent Ethics Board". City of Tallahassee.
  35. ^ "CLICK HERE to support Help The Honest Politician Crash the 2016 Election". Indiegogo. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  36. ^ "CLICK HERE to support Help the Honest Politician Crash the Most Expensive Senate Race of All Time". Indiegogo. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  37. ^ Nicks, Denver. "Spoof Presidential Candidate 'Honest Gil' Racks up 1 Million Views in 24 Hours". TIME.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  38. ^ "Fake candidate beats Jeb Bush in straw poll". Sun-Times National. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  39. ^ "Fake candidate raising more money than Lincoln Chafee". Sun-Times National. Retrieved 2015-11-14.
  40. ^ MacCash, Doug (2018-02-02). "Jennifer Lawrence gets political at Tulane University in New Orleans". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  41. ^ Lambert, Nurah (2018-02-08). "Unrig the System Summit unites political adversaries against corruption • The Tulane Hullabaloo". The Tulane Hullabaloo. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  42. ^ a b Confehr, Clint (2019-03-21). "Anti-Corruption Summit for Country Above Party". The Tennessee Tribune. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  43. ^ Timms, Mariah (2019-03-30). "Unrigged Live! highlights summit's activism, features Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Gonzalez, Ed Helms at Music City Center". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  44. ^ Silver, Josh (2019-03-27). "Unrig Summit: democracy movement takes flight in Nashville | Opinion". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  45. ^ Alund, Natalie Neysa (2019-03-12). "Jennifer Lawrence, Howard Schultz coming to Music City for 'SXSW of politics'". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2019-05-10.

External links[edit]