Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).

 

Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S365/Senate/Bill/Text

 

Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Mass–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA

 

Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:

https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/12/15/this-massachusetts-bill-could-block-donald-trump-from-the-ballot-in-2020

http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/senator-mike-barret-d-lexington-wants-presidential-candidates-tax-returns-to-run-for-office-in-massachusetts

 

This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/state-legislators-trump-trolling-234919

 

Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

Call Your House Rep · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your Senators · Community Activism · Ethics · Marches and Protests · Postcard Campaigns · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

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.

 

 

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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

Call Your State Legislators · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality

Urge Your State Legislators to Protect Your Privacy on the Internet

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

 

Call and email your state legislators and ask them to create laws that will protect your privacy on the Internet.

 

Earlier, we urged you to call your house reps and ask them to vote against H.R. Res 86, which, if passed, would gut consumer privacy protections online. (We’re sure you won’t be surprised to know the bill was entirely sponsored by Republicans.) Well, it passed, and Trump signed it.

 

Now we must turn to our state legislators to protect us from those who would harvest our data and sell it.

 

Some state legislatures are already on the case. Illinois is working on a European-style “right to know” law that would tell customers what information search engines and social media platforms are gathering on them, and who they’re selling it to. Minnesota is mulling a law that would stop Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from selling consumer information without written permission. Massachusetts state senators just introduced a bill similar to Minnesota’s.

 

The first step in asking your state legislators to pass laws protecting your online privacy is knowing who they are.

 

Find your state senator and house rep here, as well as your state attorney general:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org/

 

 

Then call or email them and ask them to pass laws that protect consumer privacy online, assuming they aren’t already doing that. If they are, tell them that you support their efforts, and ask what you can do to help make them law.

 

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am <Firstname Lastname from town, zip code>. I am contacting you to ask you to write, support, and pass laws that will protect <state name> consumers’ online privacy. As you know, Trump recently signed a law that allows Internet Service Providers to harvest information about their users’ online movements and sell it to third parties. I would like you and your colleagues to consider bills like those being discussed in Minnesota and Massachusetts, which would not let ISPs sell someone’s data without their written permission. Illinois is also considering a bill that would force search engines and social media platforms to tell consumers what data they’re gathering, and who they’re selling it to. Laws like these would do much to protect our privacy online. Thank you.”

 

 

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

 

 

Read about the states’ reaction to the passage of HR Res 86:

 

 

Read about the efforts in the Illinois and Minnesota state legislatures to protect their residents’ online privacy:

Now that the US federal government doesn’t care about internet privacy, states are stepping in

 

 

Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism

Urge Your State Legislators To Pass Laws That Stop Police Forces From Accepting Surplus Military Equipment

This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.

 

Contact your state legislators–your state senator and state house rep–and urge them to pass laws that prevent your state’s police departments from accepting surplus military combat gear that the federal government might offer to their forces. 

 

In August 2017, Trump issued an executive order that reversed a 2015 executive order of President Obama’s which had barred American police forces from accepting castoff military gear. Before Obama’s order, the police had access to some heavy-duty stuff: armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bayonets, and more.

 

Obama had issued his order partly in response to concerns about how the local police had handled protests in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer killed Michael Brown. In explaining why Trump was lifting the ban, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions stated, “Those restrictions went too far. We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.”

 

We can’t stop the feds from offering the military gear to state police departments. But we can ask state legislators to pass laws that stop police departments from accepting it.

 

Back in March 2015, Montana state legislator Nicholas Schwaderer, a Republican, wrote just such a bill. It passed with bipartisan support, and Montana’s governor, Democrat Steve Bullock, signed it into law.

 

First, find the contact information for your state representatives. If you don’t know who they are, plug your address into this search engine, and it’ll tell you:

http://www.whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

State representatives are far easier to reach directly than federal representatives, though some do have an intern or a staffer. State reps are also far less likely to be stratified in their views–conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans still exist on the state level.

 

Here is a suggested script for calling or writing your state reps:

“Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am (calling/emailing) to ask you to write a bill that would prevent state police departments from receiving castoff military gear, such as bayonets, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers. I believe that the state’s police departments should not have the opportunity to use equipment designed for warfare against the citizens they are supposed to protect and serve. Writing a bill that prevents the police from accepting military gear from the federal government will keep us all safer. Thank you.”

 

Read more about Trump’s executive order on castoff military gear:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41078158

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/28/546743742/trump-administration-lifts-limits-on-military-hardware-for-police

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/28/cops_can_already_get_military_gear_trump_s_new_policy_ensures_they_can_use.html

 

Read about the Montana bill and its success:

https://newrepublic.com/article/144600/trump-wants-re-militarize-police-montana-none-it

http://mtpr.org/post/bill-would-stop-montana-police-using-military-surplus

http://mtpr.org/post/montana-republican-praises-presidents-restrictions-military-surplus-police

 

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Call Your State Legislators · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · GOOD UPDATE! · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

GOOD UPDATE: Tell the New Hampshire Legislature to Boot a State Rep Who Founded the Woman-Hating Red Pill Forum on Reddit

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Update: Good news! On May 17, Robert Fisher resigned from the New Hampshire legislature. This was after some sideeye-worthy shens by the legislature itself (see the Time story below), but he is out of power and gone.

http://time.com/4782902/new-hampshire-robert-fisher-red-pill-reddit/

Original text follows.

Yes, you read the headline right. If you live in New Hampshire, call your state legislators and ask them to demand the resignation of state representative Robert Fisher, who has been revealed to be the founder of the misogynistic Red Pill forum on Reddit. If you live elsewhere, send postcards asking for Fisher’s resignation.

With any luck this post will be obsolete by the morning of April 28, but we’re writing it just in case.

On Tuesday, the Daily Beast web site revealed Fisher as the founder of Reddit’s infamous Red Pill forum, a cesspool of anti-feminism frequented by about 200,000 subscribers. According to the Daily Beast piece, Fisher launched the forum in October 2012 and has since stepped down as its lead moderator but still appears occasionally.

Fisher is also the New Hampshire state representative for Belknap County, District 9. (He’s a Republican, but he has run before, unsuccessfully, as a Democrat.) He was first elected in 2014 and won reelection last year.

The Red Pill forum paints men as the victims of feminism, and encourages thoughts and posts along those lines. If you want to get a clearer notion of how that can play out, and what Fisher has said about women and feminism, scroll down to click through to the Daily Beast piece. (Fisher has since claimed that several quotes in that article are taken out of context, or are otherwise untrue.)

Several New Hampshire legislators, including the current governor, have publicly urged Fisher to resign. (He has declined to do so.)

If you live in New Hampshire, please call your state legislators and ask them to urge Fisher to resign. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, plug your zip code into the web site below:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

It is extra-important to pursue this now because New Hampshire legislators are currently mulling whether and how to strengthen the state’s rape-shield laws.

Sample script: “Dear State (Representative/Senator Lastname,) I am (calling/emailing) to ask you to join your colleagues in urging state representative Robert Fisher, the Republican from Laconia, to resign. Earlier this week he was revealed as the founder of the Red Pill, a woman-hating forum on Reddit. Governor Chris Sununu has said his resignation “is certainly in order,” and Shawn Jasper, the New Hampshire house speaker, has said his resignation would be appropriate. Please join them in asking Fisher to depart his post.”

Sample script if your state rep is Robert Fisher: “Dear State Representative Fisher, I am disgusted by the fact that you founded the Red Pill forum on Reddit, and I am disgusted by your comments about women, feminism, and rape. Your words and actions prove you are unfit to serve as a state legislator. I urge you to resign and refrain from running for public office in any capacity ever again.”

Sample script for contacting New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper: “Dear House Speaker Jasper, thank you for saying that you wish that state representative Robert Fisher would resign in light of the news of his connections to the woman-hating Reddit forum, The Red Pill. Thank you also for adding later that his words and actions rise to the level of conduct unbecoming a legislator. I appreciate your having made this statement and I support it.”

 

If you live outside New Hampshire, you can email or mail postcards to Robert Fisher, asking him to resign (sure, be forceful, but be unfailingly polite!):

Robert Fisher
92 Bowman Street
Laconia, NH 03246-3678

robert.fisher@leg.state.nh.us

And again, if you live outside New Hampshire, you can email or send postcards to state house speaker Shawn Jasper, thanking him for calling on Fisher to resign but perhaps urging him to find a way to do more (he says that it’s up to Fisher’s constituents to fire him by voting him out in the next election; he says nothing about encouraging constituents to ask Fisher to resign. Again, it’s ok to be forceful when phrasing your postcards, but always be impeccably polite).

 

House Speaker Shawn Jasper

83 Old Derry Road
Hudson, NH 03051-3017

shawn.jasper@leg.state.nh.us

 

Read the Daily Beast piece about Fisher:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/25/the-republican-lawmaker-who-secretly-created-reddit-s-women-hating-red-pill

 

Read the Snopes piece on the stories about Fisher and the Red Pill Forum:

http://www.snopes.com/2017/04/25/legislator-reddit-redpill-forum/

 

Read a Time piece that quotes Fisher’s refusal to resign, in which he said, “I am not disappearing. I will continue to stand strong for men’s rights and the rights of all.”

http://time.com/4756308/robert-fisher-new-hampshire-mens-rights/

 

Read a piece from Slate that talks about Fisher, and about how New Hampshire’s unusually structured state legislature is something of a double-edged sword:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/04/27/how_did_robert_fischer_of_men_s_rights_reddit_the_red_pill_end_up_in_new.html

 

Read a local newspaper piece on Fisher and the revelations :

 

http://www.concordmonitor.com/rep-fisher-red-pill-reddit-thread-9491637

 

Read an NHPR web site story that explains why the state legislature has few options for removing Fisher:

http://nhpr.org/post/despite-uproar-over-lawmakers-comments-house-leaders-lack-leverage-oust-him#stream/0

 

Read a story from the web site of WMUR, a New Hampshire television station, in which the governor, the state Republican party chair, and the state house speaker all denounce Fisher and encourage him to resign, and Fisher declines to do so:

http://www.wmur.com/article/state-lawmaker-admits-saying-some-injudicious-things-about-women/9562347

Call Your Members of Congress · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Ask your MoCs to Do Right by the 2020 Census

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Ask your members of Congress to fully fund the 2020 Census and ensure that it has a competent, non-partisan director.

 

The resignation of John H. Thompson, the U.S. Census Director, was easy to miss. It happened the same day that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Thompson quit because he felt the 2020 census was being woefully underfunded. His final day on the job will be June 30.

 

The government uses the census to allocate resources in vital areas such as education, law enforcement, and housing. The census can also change how Congressional districts are drawn, with states gaining or losing house reps based on their populations.

 

A look at Trump’s campaign rhetoric, cabinet choices, and overall governing style shows his contempt for facts and for gathering accurate data, regardless of the aim. A look at the FY2018 budget shows that the only resources the Trump administration is keen about allocating are those bound for the military. And as for reshaping the Congressional district maps? That’s only of interest to Trump and friends if it means creating more Congressional Republicans, or eliminating Congressional Democrats, or both.

 

The 2020 census will guide policy and shape the Congressional map for the next 10 years. We have an obligation and a duty to ensure that it’s fully funded and that it’s guided by a good, upstanding director.

 

Please call your members of Congress and ask them to give the U.S. Census the funds that it’s asked for, and to choose a competent, nonpartisan director.

 

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I’m calling to ask (House Rep Lastname) to support full funding of the 2020 census and to back a competent, nonpartisan choice for its new director. The census is a huge project, and an important one. It gathers data that helps determine which Americans get which resources for a decade to come. It also has the power to reshape the Congressional map, creating and eliminating them as needed. Please do what is needed to ensure the success of the 2020 census, and please push back against any poor choices that the Trump administration might make.

 

 

Read about Thompson’s resignation, and the implications of that:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/departure-us-census-director-threatens-2020-count

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/11/527990617/u-s-census-bureau-director-john-thompson-abruptly-resigns

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/us-census-director-resigns-amid-turmoil-over-funding-of-2020-count/2017/05/09/8f8657c6-34ea-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.4d4bdec3465d

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/census-watchers-warn-of-crisis-if-funding-for-2020-count-is-not-increased/2017/04/17/e6cc170a-20d6-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html?utm_term=.b87ae3453624

 

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