Citizen Leader Spotlight: Ishwari Sollohub
Ishwari Sollohub (right) with Deb Haaland (left) candidate for New Mexico’s first congressional district. Haaland signed the 28th amendment pledge.
Ishwari Sollohub is a member of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (MOP), a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to removing the often-corrupting influence of money in politics. MOP was recently instrumental in getting the Fix It America Constitutional Amendment passed in the New Mexico congress—a big step in the work to end Big Money in politics. MOP became affiliated with American Promise (AP) in early 2017, when AP Director of Political Strategy Ben Gubits delivered a presentation in Santa Fe.
When it comes to getting big money out of politics, Santa Fe is on a promising trajectory. The city recently elected a new mayor who, thanks to citizen leaders, has signed the American Promise pledge.
Fix It America
“We were excited when we recently had an opportunity to meet with John Pudner of Take Back Our Republic, which is a relatively conservative organization,” Ishwari says.
Take Back Our Republic was founded on the assertion that “individual participation in the American political system is the best way to preserve and strengthen our liberty.” Through research and activism, the organization works toward a future in which people, not corporations, drive politics. Pudner is the group’s executive director, and he’s also on the AP advisory board.
“We enjoyed meeting him and, in addition to beginning to form a relationship, we learned a bit about lobbying from a conservative perspective,” says Ishwari.
Within days of their meeting, Pudner had found a sponsor for his legislation, and House Joint Memorial 10 (HJM 10), aimed at passing the Fix It America Constitutional Amendment, was introduced in the New Mexico House. Fix It America comprises two parts: one requires Congress to regulate the role of money in elections, and the second makes gerrymandering illegal. “We were super excited that New Mexico was one of several states where the Fix It America Amendment was being introduced, and we started organizing right away,” says Ishwari.
Several MOP volunteers were able to attend and speak at the first committee hearing, where Fix It America passed with bipartisan support. After that, MOP volunteers sent emails and made phone calls to legislators and committee chairs, asking for the memorial to be scheduled at each juncture, and then asking legislators to pass it.
Although the memorial was weakened by several amendments as it wound its way through the system, says Ishwari, in the end, it did pass—with bipartisan support—and is now on record in the State of New Mexico.
“These resolutions and memorials are not one-time deals,” says Ishwari. “They serve to keep these issues front and center, so that when the U.S. Congress actually does pass a 28th Amendment, New Mexico will be ready and willing to ratify.”
Now that the legislative session is over, MOP plans to use data from Fix It America as they approach legislators to sign the AP candidate pledge. “Knowing how they voted on that memorial will be a good opener as we start conversations about signing the pledge and develop relationships with legislators throughout the state,” Ishwari says.
“We hope to take advantage of the momentum that Fix It America has created,” she says. “We see it as a great opportunity to integrate the different ways that getting money out of politics is manifesting in our state: the grassroots activity of the AP pledge, actual state legislation, and collaboration between various organizations.”
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