The following is an open letter sent this morning to Alabamians, asking for their support for a state bill that would let voters decide if they want out-of-state dark money and/or other illicit political contributions disclosed. People were so excited about Senator Orr’s bill, that every phone in our office is being used to call our contacts in the state, and the reaction is overwhelmingly positive – everyone seems to want Senate Bill 356 to be approved.
Dear Fellow Alabamian:
Do you believe Alabama voters should know who is paying for out-of-state attack commercials? That is the matter we would like to see on the ballot, and Senator Arthur Orr’s Senate Bill 356 would let Alabamians vote on that issue.
We would encourage any Alabamian who feels strongly that they should be allowed to vote on this issue to call 334-242-7800
and leave a message for their Senator and read about
Senator Orr’s bill.
My years of running political campaigns included several years of running efforts for the farmers of the state, while other friends helped efforts on behalf of realtors and more liberal people in the state ran efforts for the teachers’ union. All those groups do a great job of laying out what policies they believe are best for Alabama. Voters generally like farmers, realtors and teachers, and by knowing who was supporting which candidate might consider which group was closest to them ideologically because their giving is already clear and disclosed.
The problem arises when an out-of-state group does not disclose who is paying for commercials spreading misinformation to try to change policy to suit their interests, and that is what Senate Bill 356 would enable the state to finally tackle.
No one is questioning the 1st Amendment rights of an outside group to bombard voters – only in looking for solutions to enable the voters to know who is really behind the commercials.
For example, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a lot of money to try to elect candidates in Virginia who favored gun control, but because people knew he was paying for the campaign most Virginians decided they did not share his values and defeated his candidates at the ballot box. The key is Bloomberg’s involvement was disclosed.
If Senate Bill 356 is not passed, and no new disclosure requirements can be enacted in Alabama, then we open the door not only for more secret out-of-state money but for illegal foreign contributions to be hidden.
In Congress, HR4177
(Stop Foreign Donations Affecting Our Elections Act) was introduced based on our white paper
detailing how easy it is for foreign interests to get money into our system. Bernie Sanders attacked
our proposal in an article run by Al-Jazeera America, saying their was no problem, but just a few months later a wealthy Mexican businessman as well as a police officer, political consultant and lobbyist in San Diego were all arrested
under charges of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into political races. Secret money invites corruption.
We hope you will join us in supporting Senate Bill 356 at the state level and also consider calling your member of Congress (dial 202.224.3121
and they can transfer you to your representative) to support HR 4177 to close this loophole for foreign donations.
We understand people are going to play by the rules until they are changed. In Alabama, candidates I helped when I was running campaigns and their opponents all benefited from money being transferred from one PAC to another. But while we all used that system, the legislators were able to get together after the election and ban the practice so that voters would know which groups were really supporting which commercials. The next logical step is Senate Bill 356 to do the same to out-of-state groups trying to influence our elections here in Alabama for their own means.
Several years ago I ran meetings around the state, and we would like to duplicate that tour on behalf of Take Back Our Republic. If you would like to be invited when we come to your area, or if you can support our efforts with a contribution
to Take Back Our Republic, please call 334.329.7258
, sign up at www.takeback.org
or follow us on Instagram
John Pudner, Executive Director
Take Back Our Republic
246 E. Glenn Avenue, Suite B
Auburn AL 36830