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Inside the messy fight over campaign finance strategy

News

Inside the messy fight over strategy among campaign finance reformers

Marty Wulfe opened his inbox one day this fall and found an unsettling email from an old friend.

It was a dire warning from the Maryland chapter of Common Cause: Special interests in his state are pushing a "dangerous" proposal for a second constitutional convention.

But Wulfe himself was one of those special interests, because he's a board member of Get Money Out – Maryland. The organization is lobbying the General Assembly to have the state join five others calling for a convention to consider changing the Constitution to allow Congress and state legislatures to rein in money in politics.

While he and other Get Money Out leaders "had a good laugh at being labeled a special interest group," said Wulfe (who views himself as a big fan of Common Cause), the opposition from one of the most venerable voices for democracy reform is no laughing matter. Instead, the rift highlights one of the most impassioned arguments these days in the world of good-government advocacy.

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Ohio’s elections chief in aggressive effort to find voters who shouldn’t

Ohio's chief election official has taken another high-profile step in his campaign against perceived vote fraud, referring to the state's attorney general the names of 10 people he says appear to have cast ballots in Ohio and another state in the 2018 election.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose caused a stir just a few weeks earlier when he said he found 354 people who are not U.S. citizens but were registered in the state. Of those, 77 voted in the midterm, he said.

Voting rights advocates had criticized LaRose about the earlier report, saying what he found may have been simple mistakes, people confused about the system or people who got naturalized later than the records he was looking at.

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Meet the reformer: David Thornburgh, taking the family business a new way

David Thornburgh has spent his career managing civic engagement programs in Pennsylvania, no surprise given that he was raised by parents focused on public and community service. Before being named president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, which successfully fought for campaign contribution limits and an ethics board in Philadelphia, the Haverford College grad ran the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. He also conducted a 13-year run as executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Describe your very first civic engagement.

I was raised in a family that values public service. My father, Dick, served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania and was U.S. attorney general for three years ending in 1991. My mother, Ginny, is a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities. I guess my first direct involvement was as a surrogate speaker in my dad's first race for governor in 1978, when I was 19. Pretty thrilling to have a chance to speak in front of hundreds of people at such a young age!

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Debate

Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president. Now Trump may force them to.

Federal courts' long-standing reluctance to intervene in disputes between the White House and Congress means there is very little controlling law on executive privilege. But that may change, writes Wayne State University professor Kirsten Carlson.

Community

Represent Orlando Ranked-Choice Voting Summit

What is ranked-choice voting? How will it help to unrig our elections and give the people the stronger voice? Join RepresentUs to hear a presentation by passionate RCV advocate Adam Friedman of Voter Choice MA and Joseph White from RepresentUs Orlando.

We’re all about the issues that have broken American democracy — and efforts to make governments work again for you, your family and your friends.
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