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Support the MAR-A-LAGO Act, Which Would Require Trump to Disclose the Visitor Logs of the White House and Mar-A-Lago

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Call your members of Congress to express support for the Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act, aka the MAR-A-LAGO Act, which would require Trump to release the names in the visitor logs of the White House and Mar-a-Lago after 90 to 120 days.

It is making its way through both sides of Congress now, as H.R. 1711 in the House of Representatives and as S. 721 in the Senate.

President Obama adopted a policy of releasing the names of most of the people who visited the White House within 90 to 120 days. The only exceptions Obama made were for people deemed “politically sensitive.” This was not a formal rule from Congress; Obama’s administration came up with it and chose to abide by it.

The Trump administration has yet to pass the 90-day mark as we draft this blog post. But he and his minions have shown a proclivity for secrecy and concealment. Trump has also done a fair amount of presidential work at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he charges new members $200,000 to join–a price that doubled since he took office.

The MAR-A-LAGO Act would promote transparency by requiring Trump to release visitor logs for the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and any other place where he might conduct presidential business, such as Trump Tower and his network of hotels and golf courses.

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am calling to ask House Rep/Senator (Lastname) to support H.R. 1711/ S. 721, the MAR-A-LAGO act. The MAR-A-LAGO act would promote transparency by requiring Trump to routinely release visitor logs for the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and other venues where he conducts presidential business. Given the Trump administration’s penchant for secrecy, a law like this one would be a good idea. Thank you.”

 

Read a GovTrack Insider article about the MAR-A-LAGO Act:

https://govtrackinsider.com/mar-a-lago-act-would-mandate-trump-release-visitor-logs-from-his-white-house-and-florida-club-3731b9a00966

 

See GovTrack’s page on the senate version of the bill, S. 721:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s721

 

See GovTrack’s page on the house version of the bill, H.R. 1711:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1711/details

 

 

 

 

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Call Your MoCs and Support S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act

This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.

 

Support S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, which would do just that–close a loophole that unwittingly encourages the use of tax dollars to fund sports stadium construction.

 

An article on GovTrack Insider alerted us to this and oh yes, we were all over it. The bill was introduced on June 12. It has a house counterpart in the form of H.R. 811, the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act.

 

We’re going to quote the ‘Context’ section of the story because it’s a case study in unintended consequences:

 

“It all stems from a provision in a 1986 tax reform bill, which accidentally created a loophole which allowed tax avoidance for many bonds used to finance sports stadiums.

 

The provision stated that such bonds could be tax-exempt if they were used for more than 90 percent of a stadium’s construction, under the logic that this would almost never happen. After all, most sports teams were owned by billionaires or multi-millionaires who would help front much of the costs.

 

However, the opposite happened, as taxpayers started paying for way more of stadium costs than they had before. In the 21st century, that taxpayer money has included $431 million towards Yankee Stadium, $205 million for the Chicago Bears, $185 million for the New York Mets, and $164 million for the Cincinnati Bengals.”

 

Talk about perverse incentives, right? Though passing this bill might feel like closing the barn door after team after team of horses have escaped, and GovTrack admits the odds are long even though the bill should get serious public support, it’s worth the fight.

 

A note before giving the sample script: First off, if New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker is your senator, and if Oklahoma Republican Steve Russell is your House rep, call and thank them for sponsoring these bills.

 

Now, the sample script: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname, of town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to support (S. 1342/ H.R. 811), which would close a loophole that perversely encourages using tax dollars to fund sports stadium construction. Sports team owners are wealthy–some are billionaires. They can, and should, pay to build or improve their own stadiums. The law, as currently written, encourages team owners to chase precious tax dollars that should go to municipal and state needs instead of wants. The bills moving through Congress now will take away that perverse incentive.”

 

 

Read the GovTrack story on the bills that close the stadium funding loophole:

https://govtrackinsider.com/eliminating-taxpayer-subsidies-for-stadiums-act-would-end-taxpayer-tax-support-for-sports-stadiums-94a7ec189c8c

 

 

Read a Brookings Institution story on why the government should stop funding sports stadiums:

https://www.brookings.edu/research/why-the-federal-government-should-stop-spending-billions-on-private-sports-stadiums/#federal-subsidy

 

 

See the GovTrack page on S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadium Act of 2017:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s1342

 

 

See the GovTrack page on H.R. 811, the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr811

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Like GovTrack on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/govtrack

 

 

Follow GovTrack on Twitter:

@govtrack

 

 

Donate to GovTrack:

https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?c=350193

 

 

 

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Save This Tool for Keeping Tabs on Bills That Concern You: GovTrack

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Bookmark Govtrack.us, a nifty tool for learning about and tracking bills that concern you.

 

Govtrack debuted in 2004 as a hobby project and blossomed into what you see today. It helps you find federal legislation on issues that you care about, and lets you track them as they work their way through Congress.

 

It can also show you the bills most tracked by the site’s users, trending bills, and other useful information, such as the total amount of legislation passed by Congress in the current session. And it offers good longer reads in the form of GovTrackInsider, which offers detailed examinations of hot bills and contested issues.

 

 

Start using GovTrack:

https://www.govtrack.us

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Like its Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/govtrack/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@govtrack

 

 

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Never Stop Demanding That Congress Investigate Trump’s Ties to Russia and His Violations of the Constitution

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Trump and his minions have done, or tried to do, any number of horrible things. Most of them demanded an immediate answer. Others demanded ongoing attention.

 

Several people are speaking up to say the daily shenanigans are distracting us from focusing on the two issues that have the power to force Trump from office: His financial conflicts of interest, and the Russian hacking scandal, which should shed light on Trump’s curious connections to Putin.

 

To be fair, these issues have not been forgotten, just overshadowed. A team of lawyers from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing Trump over his violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause. Jerry Nadler, a house rep from New York who sits on the house judiciary committee, recently filed a resolution of inquiry into Trump, an early step on the road to impeachment. Members of Congress are pursuing bipartisan investigations into the Russian hacking scandal, despite Republican attempts to keep such queries under its party’s control (which would let them soft-pedal the findings).

 

But the blogger behind The Liberal Yell rightly points out that it’s on us, the citizens, to keep pressing Congress to stay on the two issues that could end Trump’s presidency, and we should support their efforts to do so.

 

See the blog below.

 

http://theliberalyell.com/focus-people-there-are-only-two-things-to-demand-of-congress-in-regards-to-trump/

 

To summarize: TLY asks us to stay firmly on these two issues, regardless of what other evils Trump looses. No matter what happens, do not lose sight of the need to look into Trump’s Emoluments clause violations and the importance of getting to the bottom of the Russian hacking.

 

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post for a great tool–a custom postcard demanding investigations into both issues, which you can download and print and mail and hand out to others.

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read about bipartisan efforts to investigate the Russian hacking scandal, and Republican resistance to it:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/02/senate-panel-investigate-russian-election-interference/97411482/

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/10/14220484/house-dems-bipartisan-probe-russian-hacking

http://www.snopes.com/mitch-mcconnell-blocked-investigating-russian-hacks/

 

 

Learn about New York House Representative Jerry Nadler’s filing of a resolution of inquiry into Trump, and its implications:

https://www.countable.us/articles/237-preliminary-impeachment-inquiry-filed-president-trump

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Save This Tool for Tracking MoC Appearances Near You

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

You know how important it is to attend Town Hall meetings, public forums, and other events where your members of Congress appear in person to speak with their constituents and take questions.

Some clever, determined, energetic people have created the Town Hall Project 2018. It evolved from a spreadsheet of all the events scheduled by MoCs, be they Town Hall meetings, district office hours, ticketed events, or conference call-Town Halls. Now all you have to do is plug in your zip code and voila! It’ll show you all the relevant events happening within 75 miles.

Save this tool for tracking events where your members of Congress will take your questions and meet with you:

https://townhallproject.com

 

Like the Town Hall Project 2018 Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TownHallProject/?hc_ref=SEARCH

 

Follow the Town Hall Project 2018 on Twitter at the handle below and the #TownHallProject2018 hashtag:

@townhallproject

 

 

Call Your House Rep · Elections

Ask Your House Rep to Support Mike Quigley’s Amendment to Fund the Election Assistance Commission

Ask your House Rep to get behind Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley’s amendment to the appropriations bill that would restore funds to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

 

The Republicans have tried to kill the EAC for several years now, but finally succeeded in February, voting to zero out its funding by the end of 2018–even as it was becoming increasingly clear that Russia meddled with the 2016 presidential election. The EAC is an independent body that serves state and local election officials and sets security standards for voting machines.

 

Yes, you read that right. The House, specifically the House Administration Committee, voted 6-3 to kill the EAC. (You get one guess about how many Republicans and Democrats the committee has.)

 

Quigley’s amendment would allocate $9.2 million to the commission.

 

Is your House Rep Mike Quigley? Then call and thank him and tell him you’ve got his back in 2018.

 

Otherwise try this sample script: “Dear House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zip code), and I am asking you to back the amendment that your colleague, Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley, added to the appropriations bill on June 29 that would restore funding to the Election Assistance Commission. The EAC is the only independent body of its kind, providing help to state and local election officials and setting security standards for voting machines. We need the EAC now more than ever, given what we now know about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Please support Quigley’s effort to allocate $9.2 million for the EAC.

 

 

Read about Quigley’s amendment here:

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/340143-house-dem-seeks-to-restore-funding-to-the-election-assistance-commission

 

 

Read about the House vote to kill the EAC:

https://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/house-committee-votes-terminate-agency-protects-voting-machines-hacking

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/election-assistance-commission-republicans-congress/516462/

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read about why we need the EAC:

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/why-we-need-the-election-assistance-commission/

 

 

Visit the EAC’s website:

https://www.eac.gov

 

 

Follow the EAC on Twitter:

@EACgov

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell Your MoCs to Make Trump Keep Watch on Homegrown White Terrorists

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

Call your members of Congress and ask them to make sure the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program keeps monitoring and prosecuting homegrown white terrorists.

 

Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to narrow the focus of a government anti-terrorism program run by the Department of Homeland Security.

 

The CVE covers homegrown terrorist threats as well as those hatched abroad. Trump and his minions floated the notion of changing the program’s name to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” and focusing it on Muslim terrorists–seemingly redirecting the program from stopping Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. White racist groups exist, and they and their members have been plotting and committing terrorist acts. The most infamous recent atrocity on American soil was Dylann Roof’s murder of nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

 

Limiting the CVE to Islamic terrorists is a bad idea. Wittingly or not, Trump’s racist statements and his failure to quickly and strenuously condemn incidents such as the Quebec mosque shooting in January, where a young white man killed six, have emboldened  racists. Signaling that the federal government no longer sees attacking non-whites and non-Christians as terrorism will only encourage the sicker individuals among them to lash out.

 

Important note: Does your House rep sit on the House Homeland Security Committee? Do you have a senator on the Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs? Then it’s that much more important for you to call about this issue. Check the committee rosters before calling:

 

 

House Homeland Security Committee:

https://homeland.house.gov/full_committee/

 

 

Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/about

 

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am calling to ask (House Rep/Senator Lastname) to push back against the Trump administration’s plan to narrow the focus of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program. Trump evidently wants to change it to focus exclusively on what he calls “radical Islamic extremism.” Doing so would send a signal to the would-be Dylann Roofs of the world that they can attack non-white, non-Christian people and the federal government will look the other way. We need to focus on stopping and prosecuting terrorists regardless of what motivates them. Attacks by white racists can do as much damage, or more, as attacks by Muslims.”

 

 

Read an Independent article on the planned changes to the CVE:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-cut-white-supremacism-countering-violent-extremism-programme-neo-nazi-counter-extremism-a7558796.html

 

 

Read the Department of Homeland Security’s main landing page for the CVE program, while it still reflects its broader focus:

https://www.dhs.gov/countering-violent-extremism

 

 

Read about the suspect in the Quebec mosque shooting:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-mosque-attack-alexandre-bissonnette-1.3958559

 

 

Read about Dylann Roof’s attack on the Charleston church and his subsequent death penalty sentence:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/18/for-charlestons-emanuel-a-m-e-church-one-of-the-oldest-in-america-shooting-is-another-painful-chapter-in-long-history/?utm_term=.7c53fb65a5ab

 

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