MOney in politics
For many years, the Foundation has found its grantees involved in a steep, uphill climb as they attempt to advance their advocacy and public policy agendas. The imbalance of power between generally small and poorly financed advocates and the very powerful forces opposing their agendas has always made their success challenging. However, in January 2010 with the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, the odds against progressive organizations successfully advocating for issues on human rights and the environment have worsened. Vast sums of money are now flowing into federal, state and local level campaigns to elect policy makers and judges. Beyond elections, the undue influence of well-funded lobbyists at the state and federal level represents another barrier to advancing progressive agendas through the legislative process and within the executive branches of government.
Given this corruption in the American political system and its impact on the issues we care about, the Foundation has launched an initiative to support a movement to reform the corrosive role of money in our democracy and enable a government that is responsive to the needs of all its people. The Foundation also supports efforts to shine a light on this critical issue through projects funded in its media program.
Below are the Foundation’s 2013 grantees in this portfolio.
Money in Politics - $75,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)
Since 2010, Citizens United has unleashed a flood of money in American elections, further tilting the political terrain away from ordinary citizens – and toward deep pocketed special interests. The Brennan Center for Justice is the lead legal group in defense of strong campaign laws. Its money and politics agenda is driven by a multi-prong strategy that incorporates: 1) waging a strategic legal fight to defend remaining campaign laws in courts across the country; 2) taking advantage of regulatory “pressure points” to advance reform in the wake of Supreme Court rulings; 3) leading a long-term jurisprudential effort to overturn Citizens United by advancing a new Constitutional vision that puts voters at the center of our democracy; and, 4) shaping public opinion through high-impact public education and media outreach.
Collaborative Communications Initiative - $75,000
The Piper Fund, a Proteus Fund initiative since its founding in 1997, has been a central resource for foundation and individual donor funding partners to learn and develop cutting-edge strategies to curb money in politics and enhance democracy. To respond to the overwhelming need for strategic communications and message development of the money in politics and fair courts movements, the Piper Fund launched the Collaborative Communications Initiative (CCI) in 2013 to build the capacity of the money in politics and fair courts movements to speak with a more unified and hard-hitting voice. A unified voice for reform will be critical in fighting this imbalance in influence within the domestic political realm where policy that affects all those living in America is determined.
General Operating Support - $75,000
United Republic Education Fund (UREF) is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to challenging the undue influence of well-financed special interests over American politics and government. The undue influence of moneyed interests in politics has escalated into a major crisis that blocks progress on nearly every issue—from the economy and healthcare to social justice and the environment. As a result, UREF supports public education, research, and online and traditional grassroots organizing to advance sweeping democracy reforms. UREF is building a national, trans-partisan grassroots movement to generate unprecedented support for comprehensive reform.