×

Money Trail: Seeking amendments convention, Wolf PAC joins N.H. Rebellion



Last modified: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Wolf PAC began walking with the N.H. Rebellion on Saturday ahead of its efforts this year to ask 20 more states to call for a nationwide convention about free and fair elections.

Wolf PAC, a cross-partisan organization affiliated with the largest online news network, The Young Turks, was behind three successful state-level bills last year to call for an Article V convention. The Constitution demands Congress call a convention for proposing amendments upon the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures.

Any amendments proposed at the convention would need to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

Ryan Clayton, executive director of Wolf PAC, said in an interview on the side of a dirt road in Tamworth that the idea is to “get people together from a variety of different perspectives” and “synthesize those ideas into a proposal that you can send out to the rest of the population.”

Clayton, who walked in the N.H. Rebellion last year, said the Wolf PAC’s language has passed in Vermont, Illinois and California.

Maurice Randle, who worked for Wolf PAC on the Illinois campaign, said he drove 16 hours with two other members to join the N.H. Rebellion.

Clayton said last year he went directly from the rebellion to Vermont to work on the proposal that ended up passing there. Since then, he said the organization has grown by about three times. The Young Turks have 1.9 million subscribers and billions of views on YouTube, he said, and many of its viewers have been prompted to become politically active.

“Elections should be free of the corrupting influence of excessive spending by outside interests and fair enough that everybody can run for office, not just millionaires and lobbyists and their buddies,” Clayton said.

After the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, he said the way to do that is a constitutional amendment. “The only thing above the Supreme Court is the Constitution,” he said.

As far as the solution goes, that will come out in the convention – if it gets that far, he said, noting that Congress may be forced to act by the threat of a convention.

“I know what I’d like an amendment to say, but if I was a delegate at that convention, I would be one voice among many,” he said. “I’ve heard a guy who’s more conservative than me say, ‘I like the idea that if you can’t vote for somebody you can’t donate to him,’ the donor-voter rule. That’s a pretty good idea – I don’t like it because I think there should be zero private money in public elections – but I know that would go a long way in solving the problem, so let’s have that conversation.”

One thing that’s for sure, he said, is that Congress – with it’s 9 to 15 percent approval rating – isn’t working, and “asking Congress to fix Congress is like asking cancer to cure cancer.”

Clayton disagrees with those who would argue limiting political spending is violating their right to free speech.

He said they would be “openly rebuked” by the Founding Fathers.

“Anyone equating the ability to spend unlimited money in elections with free speech is a constitutional charlatan and they should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “The Founding Fathers surely would be.”

He noted that some forms of speech are already illegal according to the Supreme Court, including libel, blackmail, bribery and that which encourages imminent lawless action. He argues that unlimited political spending by one person inhibits another person’s inalienable right to self-government. The two must be able to co-exist, and he says big money from corporations is “destroying the balance between freedom of speech and self-government. There’s a clear and present danger to that because billionaires will come in and buy our democracy. It’s not hypothetical, it’s happening.”

But he’s convinced the problem will be fixed. It’s just a question of when, he said.

“The only thing that makes the difference on that timeline is how many people come out here, who walk with us, who go to their state legislatures and pound on the door and say we want this problem fixed now,” he said.



(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325 or nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickBReid.)