News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Wambui Gatheru

"Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments."

Meet the reformer: 10 questions with Wambui Gatheru

'Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments.'

Wambui Gatheru is the outreach manager at American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to regulate the raising and spending of electoral campaign funds. Originally from Connecticut, Gatheru, 24, joined the American Promise staff in 2017 after graduating from the University of Connecticut.

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to getting money out of politics, forever, with a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Describe your very first civic engagement.

Knocking door-to-door in my small town in Connecticut when Barack Obama was first running for president.

What was your biggest professional triumph?

Being a part of the effort that made New Hampshire the 20th state in favor of the 28th Amendment. This was something I'd been working on since I started at American Promise two years ago, and the legislation was just passed in March of this year. It was a surreal victory because it had been such a long fight. It took a lot of coordination on every level of civic engagement, but it's a victory I'm happy to have been a part of here at American Promise.

And your most disappointing setback?

To date, I can't say that I've had a specific setback in being a part of this work. Everything is a learning opportunity. Overall, however, a disappointing sentiment that is often echoed from folks hearing about the work we do at American Promise is how unlikely it is that we will win this amendment. Truly, I understand why some feel this way. We've become so used to feeling unheard, misrepresented and powerless that we forget we, the people, are the true movers of change in our country. This feeling is a result of a series of Supreme Court cases that have deemed money to be the primary form of political capital. When folks hear of the work we're doing to challenge those decisions with a constitutional amendment, the task at hand can seem almost impossible, but history says otherwise.

How does your identity influence the way you go about your work?

My identity influences quite literally every aspect of how I go about my work to help win a 28th Amendment. Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments. As a black woman, I know the importance of amendments. I needed two just to be able to vote! So thinking about the larger historical framework of amendments in our country and the power they have, I am honored to be a part of this next wave of reform.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." — Maya Angelou

Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry's.

28th Amend-Mint Chocolate Chip.

The West Wing or Veep?

Neither — House of Cards seasons 1-5, pre-Kevin Spacey scandal.

What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?

Set my alarm for 4:30 a.m.

What is your deepest, darkest secret? (Something fun!)

I can't snap my fingers to save my life.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Computer company Hewlett Packard received a perfect score from the index for its policies on political spending disclosure.

Big companies disclosing more could-be-secret political spending, analysis shows

An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.

That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.

Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.

Keep reading... Show less
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is joined by fellow Democratic members of the House and Senate this summer to discuss legislation that would attempt to prevent hacking into the country's election systems. Intelligence officials announced late last week an outline for how to release information about possible hacks during the 2020 elections.

Intel community promising more transparency about election hacking efforts

A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.

But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.

The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."

The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.

Keep reading... Show less