Faithful Democracy Event

Manchester Public Television | January 20, 2016By Franciscan Action Network and Open Democracy | Read the full article here.

‘Monitor,’ seek questions from voters to pose to candidates

Concord Monitor | January 14, 2016Read the full article here.

2016 State House Look Ahead: Legislator Roundtable

New Hampshire Public Radio | January 11, 2016Read the full article here.

"I came to New Hampshire looking for hope..."

Scanning through the hours and hours of newly-released video from our We the People Convention on Primary Weekend, I was reminded of this line:

"I came to New Hampshire looking for hope … and I got it!"

That was the actor Sam Waterston bidding farewell to the NH Rebels at the Convention. He had driven five hours through a wicked snowstorm to be with us, and he didn't waste any time speaking with Rebels, the media, and even leading our first march. 

waterston.pngBut Sam didn't come looking for publicity – he came in search of hope. And thanks to all of you, NH Rebellion has brought hope that democracy is possible to a lot more people than Sam. 

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Franciscan Action Network Statement of Support

As people of faith, we recognize the responsibility of government to seek justice for all people and to build the common good. Justice cannot be achieved unless the rules governing the democratic process are just and fair for all. Central to that process is a citizen’s vote—not limited by the powers of money, social class, and unequal access to public media. 

Money has always played a role in electoral politics, but what kind of role it plays should be subject to regulations that reflect ethical and democratic values. Most important, it is necessary to have policy safeguards in place which ensure that more than just the wealthiest interest groups have a voice in the public sphere.

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My Turn: Volunteers push for an end to governing under the influence

The Concord Monitor | January 20, 2016 | By Arnie Alpert and Kathleen McQuillen | Read the full article here.

NH House Votes to Pass, then Kill, Bipartisan Bill to Fight Big Money in Politics

Bill to Overturn Citizens United Blocked, Despite Thousands of Citizen Calls to Legislators 

New Hampshire reformers won a major bipartisan victory today when the NH House voted 156-152 to pass SB 136, a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending in elections.  The vote, which followed a unanimous NH Senate approval of the bill last March, would have made New Hampshire the 17th state – and the first with Republican majorities – to officially take a stand against Citizens United.

That vote, however, was quickly reversed through a highly irregular process in a reconsideration vote.

Open Democracy Executive Director Dan Weeks said his organization is investigating the circumstances and urged reporters and concerned citizens to do the same.  The Legislature’s website does not include the original roll call vote to pass the bill; so at this point, citizens are not able to see which Representatives switched their votes on the measure.

The House consideration of the bill was marred by an apparent failure of legislators’ voting machines.  At one point, it was reported that the voting machines showed 24 members as present when they were not in the room; and Representatives were forced to vote verbally, one by one. 

“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections, and SB 136 was an important first step in addressing that problem,” Weeks said.  “We need to protect the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard.  As things stand now, citizens are being shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own.”

According to the Open Democracy Index, released by Open Democracy in July 2015, $106 million was spent in New Hampshire during the 2014 elections by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history.  That political spending equaled more than $200 per vote cast.

More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.  New Hampshire’s 2014 U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks.

To date, 69 New Hampshire municipalities have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  Concern about political spending crosses party lines, with 96% of New Hampshire residents believing that money has too much influence over politics.

Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, had urged the House to pass SB 136.  "Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people."

As evidence of their frustration with the “big money" status quo, thousands of Granite Staters have walked 30,000 miles collectively throughout New Hampshire as part of Open Democracy’s NH Rebellion campaign.  The Rebellion activists and allied groups are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.

Leaders of New Hampshire’s Faith Community are holding a panel discussion on the issue on Wednesday, January 20th at 6:00 pm at Manchester City Hall.  Speakers include Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK/Nuns on the Bus and Karenna Gore for the Center for Earth Ethics.

We made history in Concord – momentarily

When SB 136 came to New Hampshire House for a vote last Thursday, we made history thanks to you! For all of 20 minutes, NH became the first state under Republican control to call for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. Then, House leadership bent the rules and took our win away. 

Check out what the statewide media had to say and read the article below to get the full scoop:

  • "Defeat snatched [from] the jaws of victory and Open Democracy wants answers" Nashua Telegraph and NH1
  • "First, the Republican-controlled House narrowly passed [SB 136]. Then representatives reversed course and killed the bill." – Concord Monitor
  • "Victory snatched away after key House technology failed… Strong-arming by leadership [killed] the bill." – Union Leader
  • "NH House votes to pass, then kill, bipartisan bill to fight big money in politics." – NHLN
  • "Lawmakers, stop embarrassing New Hampshire." – Concord Monitor

If there's one thing the Republican leadership cannot take away, it is our strength and our resolve to #FightBigMoney to the end. Help us continue that fight by calling out House leadership in a letter to the editor of your local paper, and tell Speaker Jasper how frustrated you are at (603) 271-3661.

And speaking of making history, be sure to reserve your seat today for our NH Rebellion We the People Tent Convention with presidential candidates on February 5-7 in Manchester!

As NED Pipeline Fight Heats Up, Report Finds Kinder Morgan Spent Millions of Dollars on Lobbying and Political Donations Since 2014

Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan has spent over $2.5 million in lobbying and campaign donations since 2014, even as it is seeking approval for a controversial new natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to a new analysis of lobbying and campaign finance records by the nonpartisan organization Open Democracy. 

The analysis finds that Kinder Morgan Inc. and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP began lobbying in New Hampshire and Massachusetts concurrent with the introduction of its Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline proposal in each state. The company spent $53,500 to lobby New Hampshire state government officials in 2014 and an estimated $70,780 in 2015, more than any single public interest, non-profit, or labor organization. 

Fig. 1: Kinder Morgan Lobbying Expenditures in NH and MA since 2011 (2015 data incomplete)  

The company also spent $148,500 to lobby Massachusetts officials in 2014 and $301,334 in 2015, prior to year-end disclosures. No lobbying expenditures were reported in New Hampshire prior to 2014 when the proposed pipeline route was changed to include seventeen southern NH towns. Kinder Morgan reported $20,000 and $60,000 in Massachusetts state lobbying in 2012 and 2013, respectively. 

Analysis of federal lobbying expenditures finds several Kinder Morgancompanies including Kinder Morgan, Inc., Kinder Morgan Co2, KinderMorgan Energy Partners LP, and Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals have engaged in extensive lobbying activities over the last twelve years.Kinder Morgan reported spending $170,000 to-date in 2015, including $110,000 specifically targeted at the NED pipeline proposal which is pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The five-member commission of presidential appointees is expected to approve or reject the proposal next year.

In addition to its reported federal and state lobbying activities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other states, Kinder Morganexecutives have made significant campaign contributions in recent years, according to the Open Democracy analysis. At least ten KinderMorgan employees made state and federal campaign contributions totaling more than $3 million in 2014-16. Company Chairman RichardKinder and his wife Nancy accounted for the bulk of the contributions, giving $2 million to the Right to Rise Super PAC supporting presidential candidate Jeb Bush. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz received $11,400 in campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan employees to his 2012 Senate campaign and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a $1,000 contribution in 2015. Former House Speaker John Boehner received $90,200 in campaign contributions. 

Fig. 2: Kinder Morgan Contributions to 2016 Presidential Candidates 




Jeb Bush



Hillary Clinton



Ted Cruz*






At the state level, NH Governor Maggie Hassan and MA Governor Charlie Baker received $2,000 and $1,000 in campaign contributions, respectively, from Richard and Nancy Kinder in 2014. 

All told, the analysis found $397,950 in federal and $557,000 in state campaign contributions from Kinder Morgan executives in 2014, and at least $2,211,269 in contributions to 2016 federal campaigns to-date. Analysis of campaign contributions over time finds a total of estimated $5.3 million since 2000, 87 percent of which was given to Republicans (2014-16 partisan contributions breakdown is estimated).

Fig. 3: Kinder Morgan Contributions to State and Federal Candidates and Super PACs, 2000-2015


Total Amount











































Big Money Dominates Top 2016 Mayoral Races in NH

As the presidential primary season heats up in New Hampshire, the amount and influence of money in national politics is becoming a major election topic for candidates and the public. Nearly six years after the Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United v. FEC ruling, allowing unlimited spending by corporations and unions on behalf of candidates, the rate of increase of money in local, state, and national elections has continued to far outstrip inflation. Although New Hampshire’s off-year municipal elections have historically seen low spending and low turnout, the trend in campaign funding in the upcoming November 3rd mayoral elections in the state's two largest cities of Manchester and Nashua is not dissimilar to that of national elections.

I. Mayoral Campaign Funding Levels

For the first time ever, all four candidates for mayor in the 2015 Manchester and Nashua general elections have raised six-figure sums to finance their election elections totaling $847,023. Incumbent Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas reported an unprecedented $252,810 at the end of June and an additional $57,050 on September 24th, ten days after the primary election, for a combined $309,860. That sum is twice the $152,000 Gatsas raised through the second quarter in 2013 and three times the $99,000 (including $25,000 in self-funding) he reported in 2011. Gatsas reported 324 individual donations for an average donation size of $956, the largest of any mayoral candidate in either city. Gatsas received the most votes in the September 14th primary.

Figure 1: Amount Raised by 2015 Mayoral Candidates in Manchester and Nashua  




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