“Hey Pudner, get over here, we need to get you on the air about your new group,” Stephen Bannon called out on March 2, 2015 at CPAC.
We had just launched Take Back Our Republic, and included this Facebook post of Bannon and Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow interviewing me on Breitbart Radio about our brand new effort to discuss conservative solutions to campaign finance reform.
As I tell the leaders of a Petroleum & Convenience Marketers Wednesday morning, the Breitbart Radio interview was the first broadcast to a conservative national audience after we posted “Humble Beginnings” about the launch of Dave Brat’s upset of Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
In the 20 months between the Breitbart Radio interview and the picture to the right of it, the reach increased from a about 25 to 25,109. The latter post detailed our successful campaign finance reform referendum the same night Bannon’s effort to elect Donald Trump was also successful. With a budget of just a couple of hundred dollars a month, we also saw almost 15,000 new people like Take Back Our Republic Facebook page in the final two months of the campaign season.
As they say, now the real work begins! Our referendum was successful in stopping unlimited secret gifts and contributions to politicians in one state, but we are beginning a discussion of our goals for the 2017 year now that people from across the political spectrum are demanding reform of one kind or another.
We have started the discussion with our Members across the country, and so far the priorities for 2017 are (note, we continue to update this list as we get input):
- Becoming the go-to source for major media for conservative solutions and policies.
- Produce Education Papers on the most important national changes (e.g. one white paper resulted in candidates voluntarily stopping a practice that allowed foreign contributions, and other introduced HR4177 to stop the practice, while still others now want to renew the tax credit for small donors based on another Education Paper).
- Writing or joining Amicus Briefs on court cases.
- Educating the public on potential options to enable Constitutional avenues for solutions, such as a 28th Amendment or Article V Convention.
- Discouraging the revolving door of people leaving political appointments to immediately convince their former colleagues to give taxpayer money to their new employer or clients.
- Expanding the discussion of the influence of money in politics beyond simply campaign contributions to gifts to the family foundations of elected officials, or initial stock offerings or the ability to trade stocks based on inside information gained as an elected or appointed official.
- Educating the public on how officials can lead by example through divesting from assets that could influence decision making.
- Explaining that the high unfavorable ratings and lack of trust in most officials stems partly from a system in which donors are encourage to give to SuperPacs or via dark/secret money sources rather than directly to a candidates – meaning a large percentage of advertising is spent on shrill, unverified attacks simply because no candidate must put their name on the commercial to stand behind the content.
- Qualifying the billions of dollars in government contracts that can go to groups making secret contributions via third parties to circumvent laws against government contractors making political contributions.
- Educating candidates on the ability to avoid becoming addicted to funding from big money sources by creating alternate funding through an open source People Powered Playbook.
- Building membership bases in states in which they can spread ideas with indirect results to date including support for referenda in “red” as well as “blue” states. We see emerging opportunities in Oregon, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota as states in which we have growing basis of members interested in these issues.
- As we continue to educate, members throughout the country identify potential legislative and referenda solutions for items such as closing the most egregious loopholes at a state level (e.g. New York’s LLC loophole, South Dakota’s unlimited/non-disclosed gifts, Midwestern attempts to gut ethics commissions), and we can assist in those efforts with a limited amount of lobbying.
Our members (sign up here) will be sent a survey asking them to rank these and other reform issues to help us determine where to focus. Members are also invited to insider briefings twice a month and events in your state. We’ve grown from those first couple of Facebook views to tens of thousands, but it is our members who make our operation work in every state, so we hope you join today!