rallies for campaign finance reform

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN took their fight for campaign finance reform to the streets on Wednesday — specifically marching outside of 1st District Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s office on the corner of Grant Street and 6th Avenue. The activists hoped the publicity would pressure the Democrat to sign the pledge to fight corporate and lobbyists’ influence in elections.

“FIGHT WASHINGTON CORRUPTION.ORG,” declared the hand-letter poster paraded by Kathy Hamilton, a Denver resident among the more than 20 protestors. Her poster promoted the website where voters can read and sign the petition for reforms.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette’s deputy district director Terry Brown assures protestors that even though the congresswoman has not signed the group’s pledge to “fight Washington corruption,” she supports campaign finance reforms. About 20 protestors picketed the building that houses DeGette’s Denver office on Wednesday.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
Members of protest for campaign finance reform in front of Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s district office in Denver.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman

During the demonstration, Ken Connell and several activists marched into DeGette’s office to snare her endorsement and signature on a pledge to “fight Washington corruption.” The congresswoman, however, was not in her office.

It’s the second time that has asked DeGette to sign the pledge “to put people before corporations and to represent the interests of the other 98 percent of her district — not out-of-state moneyed interests,” said Connell.

“She seemed to be aware of the pledge, but felt that her priority was helping candidates in competitive elections right now,” he said of the past encounter.

The petition calls for overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case that allows unlimited spending by corporations and unions. Connell said the decision, which viewed contributions as free speech, allows major entities to essentially buy elections. It also calls for the passage of the Fair Elections Now Act and an unspecified act to curb lobbyists’ influence in elections.

Connell delivered the pledge and copies of the petition signed by more than 1,200 voters in the district to DeGette’s district deputy director Terry Brown.

The face off was more congenial than confrontational.

Most of the demonstrators have worked in the past to drum up support for DeGette’s election and several measures, including federal healthcare reform.

Brown assured the activists that that DeGette supports campaign finance reforms; however, the congresswoman is currently working on high priority concerns such as stem cell research and the environmental dangers of fracking, a method of injecting water to extract natural gas from the earth.

The activists asked that DeGette stand firm for campaign finance reform measures that are tough — and not watered down by amendments to bills.

Brown said that’s tough because members of congress do have to make compromises — particularly with Republicans — in order to get bills passed.

“You know those Republicans — they don’t budge,” said Brown with a wry smile.

“It’s called rigor mortis,” piped Connell.

Later, Connell said that is perceived as a liberal movement, but the issue of campaign finance reform is nonpartisan. The group has asked incumbents seeking re-election and their challengers to sign the petition pledge.

So far, the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to sign is Democrat U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of the 2nd District. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of the 6th District told The Colorado Statesman that he’s reviewing the petition’s proposed reform measures. His Democratic opponent John Flerlage signed the petition last week.

Other pledge signers include former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who lost his Democratic primary to incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, and Bob Kinsey, Green Party candidate for the Senate.

The activists would ideally like to see reforms passed in this election cycle — but that’s a lofty goal to accomplish before the Nov. 2 general election.


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