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.

Balance the Budget

The New York Times has a nifty web calculator for experimenting with proposed tactics for reducing the federal budget deficit. Although simplistic, it is an interesting exercise that counters the idea that the budget deficit can’t be fixed without privatizing social security or eliminating the Department of Energy and/or Education. I’d like to see a larger interactive budget calculator that allows you to tweak all aspects of federal taxation and expenses. It might reveal some interesting results. Here is what I came up with.

Representative Wimmer Speaks Out on Open Primaries

Representative Carl Wimmer courageously speaks out on why Democrats need an open primary.

OK, Time for opperation chaos Utah style. Utah Democrats have an open primary election, so EVERY Republican in the Utah 2nd Congressional District needs to go and vote for Claudia Wright against Matheson. She is very liberal, and would give Morgan Philpot an almost certain victory in that district.

Mike Lee Campaign Apology

The Mike Lee campaign called me this afternoon to apologize for asking me to shut off my video recording. Apparently they have been visited more than once by someone with a video camera who is there only to disrupt the campaign, and both the staffer and the campaign communications director had no idea that this individual was not me, so they assumed the worst. The campaign promised to give me some time, on camera, with Mr. Lee if I come to a future event.

I appreciate their apology and I will try to take up their offer at another time.

I went to a Mike Lee “Meet & Greet”

Seeing Mike Lee was going to do a “Meet & Greet” in Salt Lake City today, I went to see for myself what this Republican candidate for U.S. Senate was all about. I asked him several questions and got answers that I agreed and disagreed with. I would tell you more about our discussion of his endorsers, the 4th & 14th amendments, his desire for term limits but his repeated votes for Hatch and Bennett, and why our government is a “tyranny” in spite of the supremacy clause of the Constitution, but unfortunately his campaign wouldn’t allow me to record anything.

It’s the 21st century boys. Get used to being on camera. Trying to block people from recording what your candidate says doesn’t bode well for being transparent and accountable in Washington.

“It’s Just A Name”

Publius, Junius, American Farmer, Common Sense, Silence Dogood, Caesar, Senex, Phocion, Historicus, The Sons of Liberty

If these names had been connected to individuals, the American Revolution may have never happened. If these names had not written letters, handbills, columns and essays under pseudonyms, the public may not have come together against the tyranny of the British crown.

John Adams estimated that his cousin Samuel Adams used between 50 and 100 pseudonyms from the beginning of the American Revolution to its end. Samuel Adams himself said there were too many to count. If the pen is mightier than the sword, anonymity is its shield. Transparency is the key to accountability in government and law-enforcement. If that accountability can only come through the anonymity of a whistle-blowing citizen, then so be it. How many dissidents in Iran wish to have their names connected to their Twitter accounts right now? There is no difference between an anonymous blogger and someone handing out paper 245 years ago. The Fourth Amendment was written for this reason.

If I was a gun maker in revolutionary America, a list of my customers would be valuable information for the British. Would that list be included in my “papers and effects”? What makes the same information recorded by computer on a hard drive any different? The founding fathers demanded warrants be issued with very specific instructions because they had been subjected to the tyranny of inspections and seizures without cause or notice. New technologies do not require the reduction of old protections.

The Attorney General’s office has been twisting arms on the senate floor in a full court press to get HB150 through. The way this bill has been rammed through the House and committee meetings is evidence in itself that something is askew. Representatives of the AG’s office have not only discounted that I am the only Internet Service Provider protesting this bill, they have insinuated that I knowingly harbor child pornographers.

The last line of defense from the AG is that HB150 is actually good for Internet Service Providers. That ISPs can easily refuse an administrative subpoena and fight it in court. I’m not sure how going to court to defend my customers’ Fourth Amendment rights is actually easier than law-enforcement following the letter of the Constitution. I can tell you the latter costs me a lot less time and money.

Enlarging law-enforcement powers by writing a bill with “child predators” at the top is an easy task. What legislator in their right mind is going to stand against that? They aren’t going to be praised for upholding our constitutionally protected liberties, they’re going to be eviscerated for being soft on the lowest form of criminal. This is how these administrative subpoenas snuck out of government as an internal tool between departments and into our daily lives as a bypass of U.S. and Utah Constitutions. The justification is made that this type of information request has been upheld in the courts as constitutional. The Fourth Amendment is a single sentence made up of 54 words. In spite of these judicial opinions, I read warrantless requests for any amount of information as otherwise. With the constant cry that activist judges are shredding our constitution, it is up to our legislature to affirm our rights. They have repeatedly done so on the 2nd and 10th Amendments this session. They cannot turn around and punch a hole right through the 4th just because the Attorney General claims it’s easy.

Thank you to The Eagle Forum, The Sutherland Institute, The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board and The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for publicly opposing this bill.

If you do one thing today, call or write the Utah Senate.

HB150 to the Senate EDUCATION Committee

What I don’t know about the sausage-making on capitol hill could fill a book, but if you were to ask me where a bill regarding law enforcement powers would be heard in the Utah Senate, it would be a Judicial Committee, just like when it was first heard in the Utah House. However, this bill is instead headed for the Senate Education committee. I’m sure there is a perfectly understandable reason as to why this might be. Maybe the Judicial Committee has more believers in Fourth Amendment protections than the Education Committee.

In any case, it will be heard tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM in 415 State Capitol.

Call and write the committee members now.

Senator Curtis S. Bramble Cell: (801) 361-5802
Senator Margaret Dayton Home: (801) 221-0623
Senator Brent Goodfellow Cell: (801) 556-4871
Senator Lyle Hillyard Office: (435) 752-2610
Senator Scott Jenkins Office: (801) 621-5412
Senator Howard Stephenson Office: (801) 972-8814

HB150 Passes House

Today the bill that extended warrantless demands for customer information from Internet Service Providers, HB150, was brought back as a substitute bill. It narrowed its scope to two crimes, child kidnapping and cyberstalking and threw some dogfood to ISPs who are afraid they might actually be held responsible for their actions.

It still remained a violation of Fourth Amendment rights, discriminatory against small ISPs, and filled with potential for abuse. All you need to be investigated for is cyberstalking before you are exposed on the Internet in Utah. Whistle blower? Political dissident? Afraid of discrimination? Pray your enemies don’t claim you are a cyberstalker in Utah, for the bill passed out of the House today, 48 – 20.

A representative who voted for the bill stated, “Crimes against kids that are happening through the Internet are not easy to combat because we can’t find who has these Web sites.” “All we’re asking for is the information so we can find out who we’re investigating — then we can pursue warrants.” Where does getting a warrant fail in getting information about ownership of websites? I can tell you one way, when it isn’t in the United States, otherwise a warrant works just fine. How about a minor’s identity on the Internet? Should that be open to any law-enforcement agent who can fill out a form? Is law-enforcement prescient about who is and who is not a minor on the Internet? Is that otherwise not worth protecting? Is it entirely possible that “information” about website ownership could harm a law-abiding citizen? This information is worth protecting, and it is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

This bill now goes to the senate. It will come before the Judiciary Committee, but I do not know when. I will post that here when I know. It also wouldn’t hurt to give your senator a heads-up on this bill and how you feel about it.

I extend my thanks to the courageous representatives who resisted the attorney general’s fear mongering and remembered that getting a warrant for information from anyone is an essential protection of our U.S. Constitution. You should thank them too: Trisha Beck, Laura Black, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Stephen Clark, Tim Cosgrove, Susan Duckworth, James Dunnigan, Neil Hansen, Wayne Harper, Lynn Hemingway, Brian King, Todd Kiser, John Mathis, Marie Poulson, Stephen Sandstrom, Jay Seegmiller, Mark Wheatley, Larry Wiley, and Carl Wimmer.

As for the rest, mail them a copy of this and keep them in your memory around election time.

ISP Immunity for Violating Your Privacy!

HB150 is back on the floor in the form of a substitute. As far as I can see, the primary difference aside from including the modifications and amendments is this text:

113        (7) There is no cause of action against any provider or wire or electronic
114 communication service, or its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons, for
115 providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of the
116 administrative subpoena issued under this section or statutory authorization.

Which essentially means they won’t hold the ISP liable for violating your privacy without a warrant. How sweet of them. However, this was not in any of my original concerns. It remains unconstitutional and should not be passed.