What can you do if you want to help stamp money out of politics? Well, Ben Cohen, the Ben from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, has an idea: stamp money.
The founder of one of the biggest ice cream brands in the country is teaming up with Public Citizen, Move to Amend and People for the American Way to garner support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money to influence elections, and related cases.
To raise awareness, Ben & Jerry’s are calling on concerned citizens to stamp dollar bills with slogans such as “corporations are not people” and “not to be used for buying elections.” These stamps are being sold at cost at the Stamp Stampede website (http://stampstampede.org/shop/).
“It’s some monetary jujitsu – using money to get money out of politics,” Cohen told the USA Today.
The Stamp Stampede calculates that every bill will be seen by approximately 875 people in its lifetime. If 100 people stamped 10 bills every day, the entire population of the United States would have seen the message at least once within a year. Activists are being encouraged to stamp as many bills as they can to exercise their right to free speech and raise awareness of the dangers of corporate money in politics.
Cohen has consulted with his lawyer and assures activists that stamping dollar bills is legal. The First Amendment protects the stamps because they are political messages that don’t damage the bills or render them unusable.
You can get more involved with Public Citizen’s efforts for a constitutional amendment at www.democracyisforpeople.org.
Aquene Freechild is Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign senior organizer. You can follow the campaign for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and end our #Democracy4Sale on Twitter @RuleByUs
Corporate lobbyists and other political creatures intent upon distorting our democracy are descending on the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.
Their objective is simple: To schmooze with and buy the gratitude of lawmakers who might be in power after the elections.
Most of what happens will be the (disturbingly) run-of-the-mill, “corporate corruption as usual” that happens every day in Washington, D.C. During the conventions, what so many cynically call “how Washington works” becomes “how Tampa works” and “how Charlotte works.
But some of what happens at the conventions may cross the line from everyday political corruption (outrageous as it may be) into violations of Congressional ethics rules and even outright illegal activity.
With help from citizens and journalists (and citizen journalists) attending the conventions, we’re working to hold lawmakers and special interests accountable when they cross the line. But we need your help.
Attending one of the conventions? Here’s what you need to know to keep an eye out for undue influence peddling:
1. During the conventions, all members of Congress are banned from participating in any event held in her or his honor if that event is hosted by a lobbyist (or a corporation or special interest group that employs registered lobbyists). [Paraphrased from House Rule XXV(8); Senate Rule XXXV(5)]
This rule expressly prohibits members of Congress from attending any convention party thrown by a lobbyist or lobbying organization where a specific member or members are identified by name and title as the honoree (including as a “special guest”), as well as events honoring a group composed solely of members, such as a congressional committee or congressional caucus (though the House ethics committee so far refuses to apply the rule to parties that honor groups of members).
Wall Street getting its way in Washington, D.C. That’s been the theme of a series of financial disasters, including the $5 billion-plus trading loss disclosed by JPMorgan Chase in May. After that “embarrassing” episode (so described by the company’s CEO Jamie Dimon when he testified before the Senate), the JPMorgan political action committee (PAC) suspended its political spending.
We wondered how long their embarrassment would last. Now we know: not long.
The JPMorgan PAC is once again writing checks – writing them to, among others, the same old cast of House Financial Services Committee members who have done their persistent best to both undermine the Volcker rule and block tighter derivatives regulation that would bring more transparency and accountability to the kind of deal-making that triggered the financial crisis. Of course, in strong form, the Volcker rule might have prevented the JPMorgan trading debacle.