Congratulations Move to Amend!

Move to Amend Salt Lake City has collected 11,251 signatures for a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment. The amendment would clearly state that corporations are not people and money is not speech. The Salt Lake City canvassers needed to collect 9,000 signatures and they collected 2,251 more than they needed. This is the first citizen resolution to collect enough signatures to make it on the ballot in Salt Lake City. Congratulations to all involved!

If you haven’t listened to This American Life’s recent episode, “Take the Money and Run for Office”, you should. Every American would be well served to take an hour and listen to what our elected spend most of their time doing in Washington. This is why I’m not taking PAC money. This is why I want public financing of federal campaigns.

County Conventions Underway, Volunteers Needed, Upcoming Debate Video Streaming

County Conventions Underway

Millard, Juab, Kane, San Pete, Cache, Weber, Iron, Wasatch, Emery, Carbon, Summit and Utah county! I’ve been enjoying getting out and about Utah again to listen to Democrats all over the state. The energy and enthusiasm is inspiring. My apologies to Washington and Grand counties, which I had to miss due to the overlapping schedules. I look forward to seeing you all again at the state convention on the 21st.

Volunteers Needed

Get an Ashdown for Senate T-Shirt and help the campaign by volunteering for the Salt Lake county convention on the 14th and the state convention on the 21st. Three volunteers will be drawn at random to sit at my table with a guest at the Taylor & Mayne dinner on the 20th. Sign up to volunteer here, and be sure to check the “Events” box. We will contact you with more details.

Upcoming Debate Streaming Link

I hope to see as many of you in person at the upcoming Democratic Debate, tomorrow at Juan Diego High School in Draper. If you can’t make it, the event will be streamed live on the Internet. Go to this web page to view it.

This is a letter asking you for money.

This is a letter asking you for money. Although there are many things to be outraged about in our current political system, I am emailing you with the frank needs of a U.S. Senate campaign rather than manipulation of your emotions for financial gain.

The primary plank of my 2012 campaign is a constitutional amendment requiring public financing for federal campaigns. Passing a constitutional amendment is not possible through a U.S. Senate seat alone, however, it is essential to enable more diverse political candidates to viably run for office. This is the only way to return health to our government and allow it to serve its true purpose, representing the needs of all of our citizens. The influence of money in Washington has gone over the brink. Past efforts to limit, restrict and regulate campaign finances have only resulted in preserving incumbency. We need a constitutional amendment to repair our democracy and make government work again for the people.

Once publicly financed candidates are elected, their first concern would be governing to serve all Americans rather than just serving the wealthiest few. Many politicians start out with good, honest intentions, but the current system of campaign finance muddies the water by making elected officials indebted to wealthy donors and PACs. Right now, Senator Hatch has nearly eight million dollars, with only 1% of that figure raised by small dollar individual donors. I can run a winning race on much less, but since I have decided not to take PAC money or seek bundled corporate individual donations, I need 100% of my funds to come from individuals like you.

March 31st marks the last day of the first quarter of my campaign fund raising. My campaign’s viability will be judged by the number of donors showing support as well as by the amount raised. If everyone who reads this letter donates $100, I can cover my campaign staff budget. I understand that this economy has tightened belts everywhere, but if you support the ideals I am running on, I humbly ask you to financially support my campaign with as much as you are able to right now.

Please accept my sincere thanks for your past support as well as for what you are doing now. Together we can make a real difference.

County Conventions

All of the county Democratic conventions are on my calendar now. I am going to try and attend as many as possible. In spite of having a possible airplane ride to St. George, I think there is a distinct possibility that there isn’t enough time to do both Weber County and Washington County conventions, which start 30 minutes apart from each other. In this case, I am asking for any volunteers in Washington, Iron, and Grand counties to represent my campaign to their conventions. Please email my staff to let them know if you would be willing.

I could also use some driving help to get to some of these conventions. Also email staff if you are able. You only need a current license, I will provide the transportation and gas.

Please attend your county convention! I look forward to seeing you there!

To All Caucus Chairs and Attendees

I prepared this short video with the intention of having it played at caucus meetings throughout the state of Utah. Since I will be attending my precinct caucus meeting tonight at 7:00PM, I need to have others share information about my campaign for U.S. Senate at their caucus meetings. In this short video, I briefly outline the primary points of my campaign for U.S. Senate 2012. Please let me know if you can help me spread my message by showing this video at your caucus meeting or if you know of others who are able to.

You can either stream the video from Youtube, or download it in advance for a laptop, tablet, or smart phone. Please do the latter if you are unsure of Internet access at your caucus location. It is possible that older versions of Windows will not be able to playback this video. In this case, I recommend downloading VLC and using that for playback.

Also, if you are in Salt Lake City today, please drop by the campaign office at 780 E. South Temple between the hours of 2pm and 6pm and pick up some stickers, signs, and buttons to take to your meeting. Thank you for your participation in the democratic process.

If you do not know your caucus location for your precinct, you can find it via the state’s website here.

25,000+ Miles in 9 Minutes

During my 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, I rigged a small wireless camera to an embedded PC to take pictures out the window of my car and motorhome while travelling throughout Utah. Although the system didn’t always work, and sometimes the sun melted the glue on the velcro holding the camera to the dash, and sometimes it went out of focus, the result is an interesting stream of travel and stops throughout a statewide political race. You’ll catch glimpses of of the 25+ parades we did, beautiful scenery throughout the state, and a short breakdown outside Green River where I had to climb underneath and fix the motorhome.




Music is One Perfect Sunrise by Orbital.

New Website! Office Open!

Many thanks to Randall Neil who had the courage of conviction to tell me that my old website was dated and needed an overhaul. After some long and difficult work (and a blogging blackout for me), we have the new site up and rolling!

All of the past media (video, radio, press) has yet to be integrated in the new site, so you’ll be seeing some oldies but goodies over the coming months. Stay tuned (or at least follow)!

The campaign office at 780 East South Temple is now open from 2pm – 6pm, Monday – Friday. Come down and get your signs and stickers, but be sure to call ahead of your arrival – (801) 983-PETE (7383).

NDAA, SOPA, and Upcoming Volunteer Meeting

Most of the emails regarding policy I have received recently have been in relation to two bills that recently came before congress.

The first, the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) for 2012 is a budgetary appropriations act which has non-germane language in section 1021 regarding indefinite detention. Although the White House assures us that this section “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens”, I have to ask why is it being considered at all? Why do we let our guiding principals like habeas corpus, enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution only apply within our borders? Regardless of whether the language in section 1021 potentially applies to Americans, and I believe it does, I don’t think we should be suspending habeas corpus in cases of terrorism. Terrorism is not war, it is an international criminal act, and it should be prosecuted and treated by the standards of justice we hold true in the United States. In the case of enemy combatants, declaration and end of war needs to be rigorously defined by congress and prisoners of war should be detained with all concern towards their rights. The quagmire of Guantanamo represents an affront to American justice. Being detained for over a decade without rapid trial inevitably presents problems of human rights and return of the innocent. If we do not practice habeas corpus and rapid trial universally, it is only a matter of time before it is applied to all American citizens through concern of security and outright fear mongering.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) represents another case of congressional ignorance of technology. In spite of opposition from major technology companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter, congress continued to carry water for media companies demanding that they should have the ability to shut down any website without proper trial of criminality. Hearings were stacked with proponents in an attempt to squash opposition. To his credit, Utah’s 3rd Congressional District representative, Jason Chaffetz saw through these tactics and opposed the bill. Unfortunately, it has merely been “suspended” for further wrangling in 2012. SOPA was an attempt to limit the openness and freedom of the Internet and I heartily oppose it.

I will be holding a volunteer coordination meeting Saturday, January 14th, from 1pm – 3pm at 780 East South Temple in Salt Lake City. All are welcome to attend.

Public Financing, not PACs

One of the impressions a first time candidate is given is that PAC (Political Action Committee) financing is an essential part of their campaign. In 2006, after two trips to Washington, numerous letters to “Leadership PACs” and endless meetings, the grand total of PAC contributions made up less than 4% of the overall money raised. The first thing I decided after the campaign ended in 2006 was to not seek PAC money again.

One of the regrets I have in the last campaign is being suckered by other elected Democrats into their email-address-sucking contests where supporters of each candidate were encouraged to “vote” for their favorite candidate. These contests never yielded any results for the campaign, and they only got the people who cared about my election stuck on mailing lists they didn’t ask to be subscribed to.

Yet the PAC system is what incumbents thrive on. The percentages reverse for people who are already elected, where PAC money is the dominant form of financing for those who carry the water. Which is why I’m done with it. Although I’m sure there are legitimate PACs pushing valid interests, I think the system as a whole is wrong. It continues to perpetuate our cash infested broken democracy.

I support public financing. I believe it will take a constitutional amendment to implement public financing on a federal level. Until that is done, the playing field between incumbent and challenger will always be in favor of the former, and money will continue to imbalance governmental interest away from the majority of Americans. Russell Simmons presented one such proposal recently. I find it ironic that he is doing it, while the author of the amendment remains anonymous, but I think the initial text is good. It is time we pushed this forward.

Of course, until that amendment is passed, challengers still face an enormous uphill battle. I can use your help in that fight.

Announcement Speech

At the end of my last campaign in 2006, I believed that in spite of my failure to win election, another victory was had. By making the operations of my campaign transparent, by demonstrating accountability by publishing the details of my days, and by including anyone who wished to help craft policy, I had demonstrated a new way of campaigning. A way to utilize advanced communications to enrich and enlighten the democratic process. Yet although these efforts were praised, to this day, I believe they have not been duplicated.

Other campaigns have utilized the Internet for organizing and fundraising, but I am disappointed to see the opportunity for opening campaign operations along with accountability and transparency being lost. Although strides and promises have been made by candidates running for office, who subsequently won office, the doors on our elected officials, the people who are working for us, inevitably swing shut against the public.

Behind those doors are where decisions about our country are made, and without a window into the process, you are shut out. The balance of influence is tilted, weighted, and pointed to those who have the cash to buy it. The remainder of us are left to email, phone, and petition in the hope that somehow our voice will be heard by those whose primary concern from the day they take office is their own reelection.

Since 2006, I have yearned for a candidate who could embrace and understand the potential of communication and the Internet. I have hoped for someone who sought to balance the influence of the people, all of the people, in Washington. I have wished for an individual who cared less about being relected and self preservation, than they did about moving our country forward. I do not believe everyone in Washington is self-serving and corrupt, but I have difficulty finding anyone deserving of my respect.

So it comes to this – If you are unable to respect the existing system, do you have the self respect to change the system? Running for office once is hard, I know that from experience. Today I am telling you that running for office again is even harder. I am fulfilled in my professional life. I do not need this campaign, nor do I lust for public office. Yet, life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and I still believe I can make a difference.

I must be honest though. If I thought I stood a chance of overhauling the tax code as a junior senator, I would tell you so, however, I have little to none. This campaign will confront many of the issues head-on, but primarily it is about influence. It is about what happens to someone after they win office. It is about your voice and whether it is heard. I do not pretend to channel the founding fathers, but when it comes the influence of money and government, I believe they would be ashamed. This government can not be changed by running campaigns in the same way. As in 2006, I intend to innovate rather than follow the recipe. I want to break the mold of campaign consultants and cash. I admittedly made mistakes in 2006, and I will not repeat them. I will not seek PAC funds, nor will I ever again. I will not setup a SuperPAC to funnel outrageous amounts of donor money into whatever I wish behind public inspection. I will not go begging to the those in Washington who continue to perpetrate this broken democracy.

This means of course one thing. I depend on you. I can only do this upon your shoulders. I need your help. If the people are to peacefully strike a blow to the powerful, then it needs to be done one step at a time and multiplied. With you, it is possible for this campaign to win. This is why I am proud to announce my candidacy for U.S. Senate, representing the great state of Utah.