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SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down limits on how much money an individual can donate overall during elections.  By a 5-4 vote in the case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court’s majority tossed out restrictions on how much a person can donate to political parties, political action committees or PACs, and candidates in any two-year period, though limits on how much one can give to any single candidate remain in place.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, finding that the limits intruded on what he called a “citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities.”

But Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to transparency in government and helping ordinary Americans have their voices heard, denounced the high court’s ruling as a “decision against democracy.”

MEDIA WATCH COLUMN: THE URGENCY FOR MEDIA REFORM

By Jennifer Douglas, jen@saveklsd.com

May 3, 2013 (San Diego)--The need for media reform and putting a halt to further media consolidation now seems urgent. Since late April, we have learned that billionaire conservative activists are moving ahead in a bid to buy the Los Angeles Times; Obama's nominated a former corporate lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); a senator reminds us that six mega-corporations own most of our mass media, and a leading champion of media reform, Common Cause leader Bob Edgar (photo, left) has died suddenly.

VOTING RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK IN U.S. AND SAN DIEGO

Common Cause seeks volunteers to monitor polls on Election Day

October 24, 2012 (San Diego)--This past June, San Diego witnessed an unprecedented surge in voter intimidation during the primary. A nationally funded voter suppression effort is expected to employ even harsher bullying tactics on November 6th, when even more voters will be exercising their fundamental right to cast a ballot.

THE WILL POWER REPORT -- NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Clarence Thomas's Taxes 

June 7, 2011 Just about everybody cheats slightly  on their taxes.  Whether it is failing to report income, fudging on the value of donations to charity, or forgetting to report outside gifts or gratuities, most people lie a bit and get away with it.  But Congressmen and Federal Employees should be held to higher levels of honesty. Does that mean a Federal Judge can conveniently forget hundreds of thousands of bucks in income?

 

Apparently, if you a Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the answer is "Yes!".  Justice Thomas's wife took over six hundred thousand  bucks from a Conservative "Foundation" and neglected to report it as income.  That is not exactly a "rounding off" error.  This man sits on the US Supreme Court! And he did this for five consecutive years! 

 

POLITICAL PORK? COMMON CAUSE CALLS FOR FPPC TO INVESTIGATE LOBBYIST SEX SCANDALS; NOTES SEMPRA CONTRIBUTIONS TO BASS & BROWN

 By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2009 (Sacramento) – A lobbyist scandal in Sacramento has given new meaning to the term “pork” in politics. Ever since former Assemblyman Mike Duvall squealed on tape about bedding two lobbyists, critics have called for an investigation. Now the non-partisan citizens watchdog group Common Cause has called on the Fair Political Practices Commission to open an investigation into whether the female lobbyists violated state law by engaging in affairs with Duvall, an Orange County Republican who resigned in disgrace after his boasts were made public. An Orange County newspaper has identified one of the women as a lobbyist for Sempra Energy/SDG&E.

 

“Voters need to know how widespread this practice is of lobbyists literally getting into bed with legislators, and since the Legislature and Attorney General have both abandoned any investigation it is now incumbent upon the FPPC to take this on,” said Derek Cressman, Western States Regional Director for Common Cause.

STATE LAUNCHES PROBE OF ANDERSON FINANCES; CASE PROMPTS CALL FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

By Miriam Raftery
 

October 8, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has launched an investigation into allegations that Assemblyman Joel Anderson’s campaign may have received funds funneled illegally through the Fresno County Republican Central Committee. (Read details.) Anderson (R-Alpine) has announced plans to run for the State Senate.

The news sparked heated comments from Simon Mayeski, a state board member of Common Cause, a citizens watchdog organization committed to holding government officials accountable for their actions and encouraging citizen participation. “It is extremely discouraging that the constant need to raise campaign dollars now places Joel Anderson, my very own Assembly representative, under the investigative eye of the FPPC,” Mayeski, a San Diego resident, told East County Magazine. “It is even worse that he is under investigation because of the Commission’s own decision, and not by complaint of another politician.”

SEMPRA LOBBYIST SEX SCANDAL SPARKS CALL FOR LOBBYING REFORMS

By Miriam Raftery
September 13, 2009 (Sacramento) –Last week, Assemblyman Mike Duvall (R-Orange County) resigned after bragging on videotape about sexual romps with lobbyists— including a lobbyist representing SDG&E and its parent company, Sempra Energy, according to an Orange County newspaper. Now Common Cause and the Courage Campaign have launched an online petition drive calling for lobbying reform legislation.  In an e-mail sent to Californians, Courage Campaign asks provocatively, “Are you tired of getting screwed by hypocritical lawmakers?"

FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN: CALL BROADENS TO HOLD A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IN CALIFORNIA

 

By Miriam Raftery,, Voter's Watchdog columnist

August 4, 2009 (San Diego) – An overflow crowd packed the Mission Valley Library on Saturday, August 1st,  when Common Cause hosted a town hall meeting to discuss overhauling the state’s constitution. The government reform group is hosting a series of townhalls throughout California, joining a diverse coalition calling for change in our legislative process. One business-led group revealed plans to put initiatives on next year’s ballot to convene a state Constitutional Convention and rewrite the rules on how we make our laws.

 

“We believe California’s system of government is fundamentally broken,” Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said in a statement published the group’s website. The Council represents 275 of the Bay Area’s largest employers ranging from Google to major oil companies, foundations and educational institutions.

MEDIA REFORM, INITIATIVE PROCESS & CLEAN ELECTIONS TOP COMMON CAUSE AGENDA

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By Miriam Raftery March 16, 2009 (San Diego)--At a San Diego fundraising dinner for Common Cause last week, speakers addressed the latest priorities taken on by the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting the public interest and holding government accountable to the voters. Media reform (including a conference this weekend in Southern California), clean elections and revising the California initiative process top the list of priorities for local Common Cause leaders.

MEDIA WATCH: LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS AND COMMON CAUSE SCRUTINIZE "MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY" MARCH 19

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March 1, 2009 (San Diego)--Channel 10 News Director J.W. August joins Jon Bartholomew of Common Cause on Thursday, March 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Tom Ham's Restaurant, 2150 Harbor Island Drive, to discuss the quality of today's media. Following the buffet served at 11:30 a.m., Mr. August and Mr. Bartholomew will look at reasons for declines in freedom of the press in the United States, and then open the discussion to questions from the audience. "

 

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