Synopsis of 2000

The Alliance's Clean Elections Campaign took flight in 2000. It has received widespread recognition in the political reform community and an increased presence in the media. Its fresh energy has begun altering the climate of reform by stretching the debate on campaign finance reform to include full public funding of campaigns as a credible and necessary goal.

Here are some of our programmatic accomplishments:

1. Organized five Democracy Brigades that performed "speak outs" in the U.S. Capitol. Nearly 100 citizens participated in the actions. All of the five brigades focused on the need for full public financing of public elections and expounded on the notion that campaign finance corruption gives rise to "crimes against democracy," crimes that must end. Two of the five drew connections between Big Money politics and the undermining of various agendas: namely health care reform and environmental restoration.

The environmental Democracy Brigade, which occurred the day before Earth Day, was cosponsored by 12 major national environmental organizations* and the health care Democracy Brigade was cosponsored by the Universal Health Care Coalition, which comprises 400 state and national organizations. The environmental brigade garnered the most press, receiving coverage in the Washington Post, Associated Press, National Journal, National Public Radio, Pacifica News Network, among other venues.

Top-level organizational leaders*, representing various issues, have participated in the actions and have since helped us promote the need for more dramatic solutions -- and tactics -- to help achieve true democratically financed elections. Our strategic allies consider the Alliance’s nonviolent direct action approach a valuable contribution to the political reform movement that no other organization is providing.

For an extraordinary commendation of the Democracy Brigades, see Judge Eugene Hamilton’s response to the Earth Day Brigadiers comments elsewhere on this web site..

(*For individual names, see list at end of this Synopsis.)


2. Launched the Free Democracy Network and sponsored the Democracy in Motion Road Show. The Free Democracy Network is a nascent coalition of movement-based organizations that coalesced this past summer around the theme of ending Big Money politics. The Democracy In Motion Road Show, an offshoot of the Network, was a cross-country bus tour geared to promote grassroots empowerment and educate social and economic justice advocates about the connection between campaign finance corruption and their causes. Ben & Jerry's donated a bus, volunteers from many organizations staffed the tour, and the Alliance helped direct and fund it.

The road show departed from Boston on July 26 and ended in Los Angeles at the Democratic National Convention on August 12. Educational stops occurred in Boston, Philadelphia, Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Some of the Alliance's 60 chapters helped organize the local stops. The road show received national press coverage, including spots on CNN and MSNBC and pieces in the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press.

The Network has resulted in ongoing collaborative relationships between the Alliance and several key activist organizations — including Global Exchange, the Rainforest Action Network, and United for a Fair Economy — as well as a new or increased emphasis on campaign finance Clean Money reform by these groups.


3. Adopted the Granny D Project and backed the ballot-initiative efforts in Missouri and Oregon. The Granny D project -- The Long Walk For Democracy -- became an official project of the Alliance for Democracy in August of 2000. Doris "Granny D" Haddock, whose one-woman crusade continues to captivate the attention of the public and the media, has pledged to push for meaningful reform until she dies.

This fall, she spent 35 days traversing the entire state of Missouri to promote Proposition B -- a state-level clean elections initiative similar to those that have been passed in Massachusetts, Maine and Arizona. The 350-mile walk, which started in Kansas City and ended in St. Louis, was entirely sponsored by the Alliance. Joining her were two others, one of whom was Linda Penniman, mother of the Alliance's director, Nick Penniman.

Working with three of its five Oregon chapters, the Alliance also helped rally support for Measure 6 there -- an initiative similar to Prop B -- by sponsoring a series of high-profile teach-ins which were keynoted by Granny D. The walk across Missouri was covered extensively by nearly every major media outlet in the state and it received national attention from the Associated Press.


4. Carried the "public funding" message to the Republican and Democratic conventions, providing the only street-level presence for the issue at those events. Alliance staff and members debuted our brand new prop: a giant inflatable, and re-usable, Liberty Bell. The Bell, which stands 30 feet high and is 20 feet wide, made several appearances in both Philadel-phia and Los Angeles and carried the message: "Our Democracy Is Not For Sale: Public Funding for Public Elections." In addition to the conventions -- and the Shadow Conventions -- the Liberty Bell was also present at the presidential debate in Boston.


5. Cosponsored the Democracy Action Camp. Recognizing the increased need for movement-building organizations to adopt comprehensive campaign finance reform as a common rallying cry, the Alliance helped sponsor and organize a training of activists in Malibu, CA. "Ending Big Money Politics" was the theme of the three-day camp, which was attended by over 150 young activists from around the country. Jim Ace, Program Coordinator of our Clean Elections Campaign, was a key trainer at the camp, and we arranged to have Moira Bowman, a dynamic and experienced Clean Money activist from Oregon, to lead a special session on how campaign finance is directly related to other activist issues.


Speakers at Democracy Brigades have included, among others:

Rev. Carrie Bolton, co-founder of Democracy South

Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen

Chuck Collins, co-director of United for a Fair Economy

Derek Cressman, director of Democracy Campaign for U.S. PIRG

Ronnie Dugger, founder of the Alliance for Democracy

Ellen Miller, then executive director of Public Campaign

Damu Smith, senior advisor for Greenpeace

Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner’s Magazine

Senator Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota


Speakers who participated in the Brigades* have included, among others:

Chuck Collins, co-director of United for a Fair Economy

Ronnie Dugger, founder of the Alliance for Democracy

Doris Haddock, "Granny D," the 91-year old crusader against campaign finance corruption

Randy Hayes, executive director of Rainforest Action Network

Bill McKibben, environmental writer and spokesperson on global warming

John Passacantando, then executive director of Ozone Action; currently executive director of Greenpeace

Nick Penniman, director of the Alliance for Democracy

*This involved participating in a training and preparation session on civil disobedience prior to the Brigade, risking arrest for speaking out in the U.S. Capitol Building (an act in violation of Capitol Building rules), and, following arrest, returning to Washington D.C. for a trial (most Brigadiers were given misdemeanor charges, for which they generally received a small fine).

Co-sponsoring organizations of the Brigades have included, among others:

Earth Action

Granny D

Nuclear Information and Research Service

Ozone Action

Pennsylvania Citizens Action Network

Public Citizen (Critical Mass Energy Project)

Rainforest Action Network

Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign