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Open Democracy Statement on Senate Bill 136

Bipartisan Leaders Call on NH House to End Endless Spending in Elections
House committee voted Tuesday to refer to interim study SB 136

Concord, NH - A group of New Hampshire leaders from both political parties is calling on state lawmakers to put an end to endless spending by billionaires and special interest groups in elections, a practice it believes is undermining American democracy. 

The NH House Legislative Administration Committee voted 7-3 on Tuesday to refer to interim study SB 136, the bipartisan bill affirming the need to overturn Citizens United and examining the effects of unlimited spending on New Hampshire elections. The vote effectively blocks SB 136 from further action until 2017 unless the full House rejects the committee's recommendation and passes the bill when it comes to a vote in January.

While proponents had hoped to receive full support from the committee, the "Interim Study" vote from representatives previously hostile to the measure demonstrates the growing public demand to get money out of politics and leaves the door open to future action. The latest October 2015 Bloomberg poll found that 78 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Republicans want to overturn Citizens United, while only 17 percent support for the ruling. In March, the State Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent.

"Citizens United has been an all-out disaster for democracy," said Betty Tamposi, former Assistant Secretary of State under President Bush and an Open Democracy Advisor. "We teach our kids that the size of your wallet shouldn't determine your standing as a citizen, but thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court and an intransigent Congress, the opposite is true today. We call on the full House to undue the committee recommendation and instruct Congress to overturn Citizens United by passing SB 136 in January."

"There is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections," added John Broderick, the former Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court and an Open Democracy Advisor. "Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people."

Tamposi, Broderick, and ten other New Hampshire leaders from across the political spectrum are part of Open Democracy, the nonpartisan nonprofit founded by legendary reformer Doris "Granny D" Haddock in 2009. Open Democracy and allied groups have campaigned actively to translate public anger over money-in-politics corruption into positive action for reform, with a special focus on the 2016 presidential primary currently under way. As a result of their efforts, 69 New Hampshire towns have passed warrant articles at town meeting calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and some 12,000 Granite Staters have echoed the call through petitions.  

In January 2014 and 2015, hundreds of concerned citizens marched over 200 miles in frigid temperatures across the state to protest big money corruption as part of Open Democracy's NH Rebellion campaign. The Rebellion has led more than a dozen walks and logged 30,000 miles throughout New Hampshire since 2014, with an eye to making money in politics reform the leading issue in the upcoming presidential election. Over 500 citizens rebels have volunteered to question the presidential candidates about reform; the resulting candidate statements and videos are publicly available at www.Questionr.us

"Recommending interim study is a tacit acknowlegdment of the hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire citizens who want reform, but it is not enough" said Dan Weeks, executive director of Open Democracy and leader of the NH Rebellion. "Our representatives should not hide behind legislative delay tactics – they should take action now to stop the corrupting influence of big money in politics. We hope to see the New Hampshire House reject the committee's recommendation in January, and listen instead to the voices of their constituents."

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