• Citizen and Reform Groups Call on Speaker-designee Boehner and Majority Leader-designee Cantor to Announce Their Support for Office Of Congressional Ethics and Their Opposition to any Efforts to Weaken or Undermine the Office

    Joint Statement of Groups

    Our organizations today call on House Speaker-designee John Boehner and House Majority Leader-designee Eric Cantor to announce their support for continuing the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and their opposition to any efforts to weaken or undermine the Office in the next Congress.

    We also urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who provided the leadership in the last Congress to establish the OCE, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to continue their support for the Office.

    The organizations include the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, CREW, Democracy 21, Judicial Watch, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and U.S.PIRG

    The creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics in 2008 was the most important improvement in the House ethics enforcement process since the House Ethics Committee was established in 1966. The independent OCE has done precisely what it was set up to do: help ensure that potential ethics violations are reviewed by the House Ethics Committee and provide transparency for the House ethics enforcement process. The OCE has performed its job credibly and effectively.

    Congressional ethics is not a partisan issue. Over the years, individual House Democrats and Republicans alike have been involved in serious ethics problems.

    The OCE was established following the complete breakdown of ethics enforcement in the House in 2005 and 2006, symbolized by the failure of the House Ethics Committee to take any action regarding the Jack Abramoff scandals, the worst House lobbying and ethics scandals in decades. The OCE also followed the 10 year ethics truce between House Democrats and Republicans that all but eliminated effective enforcement of the House ethics rules during that period.

    There is nothing in the recent election to indicate that citizens have any interest in going back to this failed ethics enforcement process.

    The OCE must continue with its authority and powers intact and without any weakening or undermining changes. The House resolution introduced by Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in this Congress, for example, would for all practical purposes put the OCE out of business and must be rejected.

    The OCE must be able to function independently and effectively in the next Congress as it has been able to do in this Congress.

    The OCE has served citizens, the country and the House as an institution well and it is an essential element of the House ethics enforcement process. It would be a grave mistake for the new House, with more than 100 new members, to backtrack on congressional ethics.

    We urge the House Republican leadership to make publicly clear that they will continue the Office of Congressional Ethics in the next Congress and will oppose any efforts to weaken or undermine the Office.

  • "You can’t fire the cop and then say you’re against crime," says League of Women Voters

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters today called on Speaker-elect John Boehner to retain the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in the upcoming 112th Congress and to maintain the OCE’s duties, powers and structure.

    "The retention of the OCE -- or its demise -- will signal the direction the new leadership will be taking the House of Representatives on ethics issues," according to Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League.

    "We are deeply concerned that many in Congress, apparently wishing to return to a time when there was no meaningful ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, have called for steps that would substantially weaken the OCE," she said.

    "You can’t fire the cop and then say you’re against crime," according to MacNamara.

    In the 2010 elections, "the American people did not vote for less ethics and more corruption," MacNamara said. "The retention of a strong and effective Office of Congressional Ethics is essential to regaining the public’s trust."

    The League congratulated Representative Boehner, the incoming Speaker, as well Representative Pelosi, the current Speaker, for the quality of their appointments to the governing board of the OCE. Each appointed half of the independent board’s current members. "Under their leadership, the OCE has functioned effectively, but fairly, in investigating possible ethics violations and reporting its findings to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct or the public, as appropriate," MacNamara said.

    The League urged that the OCE not be weakened in any way. The group said that the OCE must retain its independent, bipartisan leadership structure, the ability to issue public reports, begin investigations on its own initiative, and hire and supervise an independent staff. The League also called for strengthening the OCE by ensuring that it has access to subpoena power.

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • League Calls on Congress to Fix Secret Cash in American Elections

    Washington, DC The League of Women Voters of the U.S. reflected on the midterm elections today, expressing grave concern about the conduct of the 2010 elections.

    "The impact of election 2010 goes far deeper than which party controls the House or the Senate," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President.  "The tens of millions of dollars in secret money spent in this election are a recipe for scandal.  Voters were overwhelmed by millions of dollars in negative ads but didn't know who paid for many of them.  Pay-to-play politics won't change until we know who the special interests are who are pouring money into our elections," she said.

    "This election demonstrated the critical need to improve our governmental structures," said MacNamara.  "Because of the failure of Congress to act, there are no disclosure requirements governing the huge amounts of money that the Supreme Court recently turned loose in American politics.   Voters will be hard pressed to know if their elected officials are in Washington to serve the public interest or the special interests."

    "The incivility and tone of the 2010 campaign reached a disturbingly new low in American politics," added MacNamara.  "Not only was this evident in the advertising, but we also saw it in candidate debates and forums and in the public discourse." 

    "The League calls on Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections.  We also call on Congress to preserve and extend ethics enforcement.  With the election awash in special interest money, it is no time to cut back on the enforcement of ethics standards in Washington." 

    "The money poured into recent elections has been unprecedented.  The League believes that voters, not money, should be at the center of our democracy," concluded MacNamara. "We will continue our decades of work in helping citizens debate the issues in a civil and effective way and fighting for transparency, accountability and disclosure in America's elections."

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

     
  • League Volunteers Are Making Democracy Work

    Washington, DC – The following is a statement by national League president Elisabeth MacNamara on Election 2010:

    “Today, American voters went to the polls, casting their ballots and making their voices heard. The League was there for voters, making a powerful contribution to election 2010. We are proud of our work this year, registering, educating and urging voters to participate in this important election.

    “At each and every opportunity, we urged voters to visit our one-stop elections resource, VOTE411.org and it paid off. Through our online activities, the League helped millions of voters find the important election information they needed to participate and vote by answering the most commonly asked questions – am I registered and if not how do I register, who’s on my ballot and where is my polling place.  The League is proud to provide answers to these questions and others: VOTE411.org was the place to go for voters in election 2010.

    “During election 2010, I toured nine states where I saw the incredible work of League volunteers. They are active in their communities year round but best known for their election work. Year after year, they work tirelessly to serve their communities. In election 2010, they registered tens of thousands of new voters, provided nonpartisan information on the candidates through millions of printed and online voters’ guides and, held hundreds of candidate debates seen and heard by thousands over the course of the campaign.

    “But our work this year is a continuation of our 90 year history promoting greater civic participation and healthy debate on the issues that matter most to our nation and our communities. We are a nonpartisan network of volunteers, proud of our history of making democracy work.

    “League members are ordinary citizens in local communities that have invested their time and energy in improving our democratic process, including ensuring that the government is responsive to all citizens. As League members, we invest in our country because we are proud American citizens.

    “A fundamental part of the League's mission is to help voters make informed decisions and to encourage their participation.  We take that role very seriously. But we also believe strongly in civil discourse and that many perspectives are important to a healthy democracy.

    “Nothing is more important to the League than our efforts to ensure that nonpartisan and informative voter education and debates remain a part of our American democracy.

    "Our work on behalf of all voters has strengthened our democracy."

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • Visit VOTE411.org for Voting Locations, Helpful Tips

    Washington, DC- League of Women Voters national president Elisabeth MacNamara today urged all Americans to prepare for Election Day by visiting the League’s one-stop-shop for election information - VOTE411.org - to find their polling place, check voting hours, learn about absentee and early voting opportunities, and read tips about Election Day in their state. (Media: download special widgets for your website here).

    “No matter the outcome, this election will determine the future of this country and impact the lives of every single one of us,” said MacNamara. “That is why it is so important for all of us to cast our vote.”

    “Voters need simple, helpful tools to help them navigate Election Day, especially when it comes to where and when to vote. Not only will well-informed voters have a better experience; they will be a key part in ensuring the entire voting process—from waiting times to poll workers’ workloads—runs as smoothly as possible,” MacNamara stated.

    “The best thing we can all do is urge Americans to prepare by visiting VOTE411.org and, of course, remind everyone that every single vote does make a difference.”

    Please utilize our special voter-friendly widgets on your site by clicking here and scrolling down.

    Media interested in booking interviews with League President Elisabeth MacNamara can contact Kelly Ceballos at (202) 263-1331 or via email at kceballos@lwv.org.

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    October 15, 2010 202-263-1331

    LEAGUE CALLS ON MEDIA TO STOP SECRET POLITICAL ADVERTISING
    Candidates Asked to Repudiate Secretly Funded Ads

    Washington, DC – Today, the League of Women Voters called on television and radio stations to refuse political advertising paid for with secret money. The League also called for political candidates to repudiate campaign advertising in their races that comes from front groups and organizations that fail to disclose their big donors.

    "We are seeing huge sums of money from secret sources going into campaign advertising, much of it the negative advertising that poisons the airways," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.

    "Millions upon millions upon millions of dollars are being spent secretly in this election and it threatens to drown out the voices of individual voters. Because of changes in the law brought about by recent Supreme Court decisions, there are no disclosure requirements that let the voters know who is paying for the ads," she said. "Voters need to know who is paying – it is a vital part of their decision-making process in deciding whether to believe the ads," she said.

    "It’s just wrong. Secret campaign cash should have no place in our American democracy," according to MacNamara.

    "That’s why we are calling on media outlets and political candidates to act responsibly. The media should refuse these secretly-funded ads and candidates should repudiate the ads – even if they help the candidate get elected," she said. "Protecting our democracy and the vital role of informed voters is more important than any one election," MacNamara argued.

    "We understand that political advertising is very lucrative for media outlets, but we believe the public would be better served in this election season if TV and radio stations required full disclosure of the funders of campaign advertising – and refused such advertising if the sponsor fails to disclose the major funders," she said. "It’s not enough to know that an ad was paid for by ‘Moms for Apple Pie,’ ‘Dads for Cherry Pie,’ or some other innocuous sounding name. The voters need to know exactly who gave the big money to such organizations to pay for the advertising," MacNamara said.

    "Organization like the national Chamber of Commerce proudly announced their campaign advertising, but then refused to disclose which major corporations are funding the ads. Consumers and voters need to know," MacNamara maintained. "Candidates have to ‘stand by their ads.’ Big donors should stand up and be counted when they are paying for election advertising."

    The League of Women Voters has been calling attention to secret money being spent on political advertising for months, but the U.S. Senate has refused to act to require disclosure, even though the House of Representatives passed a strong disclosure bill which was supported by the League.

    Though the Supreme Court recently changed campaign finance law, the Court approved of enhanced disclosure. It said that disclosure is important to "providing the electorate with information." It also supported disclaimer requirements "so that the people will be able to evaluate the arguments to which they are being subjects."

    Now we are seeing the largest campaign expenditures in history even as organizations accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from secret sources. Essentially, these organizations are functioning as Political Action Committees but without having to follow the laws requiring disclosure of their donors. It should come as no surprise that they lobbied against the DISCLOSE Act in Congress, which would have stopped manipulation of elections by fly-by-night anonymous hit groups, and prevented the infusion of undercover expenditures.

    "These activities are directly detrimental to our democracy. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. The League of Women Voters calls on all candidates to disavow secret advertising and asks media outlets not to accept ads unless the names of the true major donors are made public," MacNamara said

     

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 23, 2010
    www.lwv.org      

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    202-263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org

    OBSTRUCTIONIST POLITICS PREVAILS OVER CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

    Voters on the Losing Side of Political Gamesmanship

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. issued the following statement by national League President Elisabeth MacNamara on the obstructionism that prevented the Senate from beginning debate on the DISCLOSE Act today. The DISCLOSE Act aims to restore transparency to U.S. elections after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

    “Voters lost and special interests won today.  It is sad to see Senators cling to partisanship and obstructionism once again, instead of working together to find a middle ground on the DISCLOSE Act. This is a failure for which voters will have to pay this November and in elections to come.  We were particularly disappointed that Senators Brown, Snowe and Collins, each of whom understands the importance of reform and of fair elections, chose not to stand up for their beliefs. 

    “In the wake of Citizens United, the DISCLOSE Act is essential. It requires CEOs to stand by their ads, and exposes special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments from pumping secret money into our elections.

    “How can individual voters compete with organizations that not only have vested interests in Washington, but millions of dollars to make sure those interests are protected?

    “The bottom line is that voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy.

    “We would like to know what these opponents have to fear from disclosure of election advertising. Furthermore, what is to prevent them from falling victim to the deceitful advertising which they are refusing to bring into the sunlight?

     “The League will continue to fight for enhanced disclosure.  Our democracy belongs to the voters -- not special interests.”

     

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 22, 2010
    www.lwv.org      

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    202-263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org

    TRANSPARENCY, DISCLOSURE VITAL FOR ELECTORAL PROCESS
    League Urges Senate to Support DISCLOSE Act

    Washington, DC –  The League of Women Voters today urged the U.S. Senate to support action on the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring disclosure of corporate and union spending in candidate elections. 

    “It is critically important for the DISCLOSE legislation to be passed this year,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.  MacNamara sent a letter on behalf of the League to Senators urging their support this week.

    “Voters deserve to know the sources of funding for election advertising and without this critical legislation, corporations, unions and other organizations can make secret, unlimited political expenditures for campaign ads,” said MacNamara. 

    “Secret money, whether foreign or domestic, has no place in America's democracy,” MacNamara said.  “Voters have a right to know -- whether it is a corporation, union, trade association, or non-profit advocacy group making unlimited political expenditures and influencing elections.  This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy,” stated MacNamara. 

    “In the wake of the Citizens United decision, the DISCLOSE Act is essential,” MacNamara said. “It requires CEOs to stand by their ads, and exposes special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments from pumping secret money into our elections,” added MacNamara.

    “Our democracy belongs to people -- not special interests,” concluded MacNamara.  “The League of Women Voters strongly urges Senators to support quick action to enact the DISCLOSE Act this year.”  

     

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact:
    Martha Patzer
    (202) 263-1332

    August 4, 2010

    League Celebrates 90th Anniversary Around the World

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. is co-hosting a series of events with valued partners around the world to celebrate its 90th Anniversary.

    For the first event, scheduled for August 9th and 10th in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the League has partnered with Fundación Directorio Legislativo to discuss the importance of strengthening the work of the women’s caucuses with elected women in Argentina.;

    Directorio Legislativo is a nonprofit organization that since 1999 has worked in generating, analyzing, and disseminating legislative information of public interest, promoting transparency and responsibility in Argentina.;

    The program includes presentations by former Argentine Senator, María Cristina Perceval; former senator from Colombia, Cecilia López Montaño, and former congresswoman from Perú, Ana Elena Townsend.

    Representing the League of Women Voters is Zaida Arguedas, Deputy Executive Director and Senior Director of Global Democracy Programs.;

    This event is a follow up to the successful conference Women in the Americas:; Paths to Political Power, held in 2007 and the 2008 publication: A Report Card on Women in Political Leadership.

    The next event will be held in Ganja, Azerbaijan, on August 24 and 25th with former LWVUS president Kay Maxwell and former national board member Xandra Kayden. ;

    Other events are planned to take place in Colombia, Brazil, and Kenya.; The series will conclude in April 2011.

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Martha Patzer
    July 27, 2010 202-263-1332


    OBSTRUCTIONIST POLITICS BLOCKS DISCLOSE ACT IN SENATE
    Close Fight Makes League Hopeful for Victory in the Fall

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. issued the following statement on the obstructionism that prevented the Senate from beginning debate on the DISCLOSE Act today. The DISCLOSE Act aims to restore transparency to U.S. elections after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

    “It is sad to see Senators cling to partisanship and obstructionism once again, instead of working together to find a middle ground on the DISCLOSE Act,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters. “This is a failure for which voters will have to pay this November when corporate and other special interests use secret money to influence our elections.

    “In the wake of Citizens United, the DISCLOSE Act is essential. It requires CEOs to stand by their ads, and exposes special interest groups behind last-minute attacks. It stops manipulation of elections by fly-by-night hit groups, and prevents U.S. corporations controlled by foreign – or even hostile – governments from pumping secret money into our elections.

    “How can individual voters compete with organizations that not only have vested interests in Washington, but millions of dollars to make sure those interests are protected?

    “Opponents of the DISCLOSE Act have put forth various criticisms—some true and others based on misinterpretations—justifying their obstruction. But the bottom line is that voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. This is not only common sense – it is crucial if voters are to remain the cornerstone of our democracy.

    “We would like to know what these opponents have to fear from disclosure of election advertising. Furthermore, what is to prevent them from falling victim to the deceitful advertising which they are refusing to regulate?

    “We urge Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine, and Senator Brown of Massachusetts, to work out their differences with Senate leadership, and create a bill they can support. This is the right thing to do, and in line with the independent thinking these Senators have displayed in the past on other Senate bills.

    “The DISCLOSE Act is fair and equitable legislation that does not favor unions or either political party. The League will continue to fight for enhanced disclosure—and we look forward to the Senate doing the right thing when they return from recess in September.”

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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