New Hampshire House Bill 504 would make New Hampshire the 20th state to formally call on Congress to pass an amendment to limit the influence of big money in politics. Driven by citizen action, this bill has passed the New Hampshire House and now moves on to a vote in the Senate. We talked with Corinne Dodge, one of the citizen leaders working on this bill, on how the people of New Hampshire are taking political power into their own hands—and winning.
The influence of big money in politics is a national issue, but as citizens coalesce for a solution, the movement toward the 28th Amendment builds upon local and state victories. So far, 19 states have formally called on Congress to support the 28th Amendment. The people of New Hampshire are working to support a bill, HB 504, that would make their state the 20th to formally call for the amendment.
Corinne Dodge is a citizen volunteer who has advocated for the bill with American Promise and a coalition of other advocacy organizations. Corinne became politically active because she believes in a government that listens to its constituents—not just wealthy donors, corporations, unions or special interests. She hopes to help mobilize the 80% of Granite State voters who believe big money is a problem in their elections and in doing so create a workable model other states can follow.
It’s an urgent time for citizens to make their voices heard as HB 504, which has garnered cross-partisan support, nears a critical vote in the New Hampshire Senate. Read the Q&A with Corinne below to learn about her work for campaign finance reform and how you can help.
How did you get involved in the issue of money in politics?
I am 72 years old and first became involved in political activism right after the Newtown massacre of school children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’m a retired teacher and started working with the Moms Demand Action group at my Statehouse in New Hampshire. As I did so, it became clear to me that nothing important was going to happen legislatively in this country or in New Hampshire until citizens could find a way to get excessive and secret money out of our political election system.
Please briefly describe how HB 504 came about and how citizen involvement helped move it forward.
I joined a coalition of New Hampshire citizen activist groups about five years ago and became particularly involved with the NH Rebellion group originally founded by “Granny D” Haddock, and later with Open Democracy Action. I worked actively with those groups for the passage of SB 136 (a bill similar to the current HB 504) about four years ago. I was part of a group of 69 citizens who initiated town warrants and resolutions calling for our state government to initiate a constitutional amendment in Washington. I then organized a community constituent group to meet with our New Hampshire Senator. The New Hampshire Senate ultimately passed SB 136 unanimously. Before that same bill came up for a vote in the House, I spent two months calling and speaking with moderate Republican representatives and sending them info on the need for the amendment. Ultimately SB 136 passed both the House and Senate. However 20 minutes after it passed the House, the Speaker of the House was able to nefariously rescind the vote, which was devastating to those of us who had worked so hard for a year!
We in New Hampshire, however, are resilient and passionate about this issue. We know we need a constitutional amendment passed, and so we continue today to work on the passage of HB 504, which is similar to the original SB 136 of 2015. The main difference is that HB 504 includes the addition of nonpartisan redistricting.
What helped HB 504 pass in the New Hampshire House?
We have growing numbers of New Hampshire citizens who have continuously and passionately been working for years to get this legislation passed, and even more New Hampshire citizens who have become more actively aware and involved in this issue since the last presidential election. And we have people like myself who never expected or wanted to become involved in political activism but who can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our democracy be destroyed and our governance become corrupted and dysfunctional.
What is the most rewarding part of seeing this bill move forward?
Seeing this bill passed by the New Hampshire House gives me hope. However, we in New Hampshire know well that we must keep working until HB 504 has completely passed and been signed by our governor. And then we must continue to push the federal government to do its part until the 28th Amendment is ultimately passed and ratified.
What can citizens do to move the needle on the issue of money in politics in their states?
Don’t give up hope because of the dire situation in which we see our governance and our democracy today. Don’t listen to people who tell you that we as citizens are helpless against a political system that does the bidding of the powerful elite.
A constitutional amendment is a difficult, methodical and time-consuming process: a process our ancestors had to work through to pass constitutional amendments to allow women to vote and slavery to be abolished. We can and must do the same in order to protect the integrity of democracy for our children.
Educate yourself about the seriousness of the situation and how citizens can affect the legislative process in your state. There are many, many state and national grassroots groups working tirelessly for campaign finance reform. Find and join with other like-minded citizens and groups in your state to work with you. Support each other. Don’t quit. We ARE all in this together.
Old African proverb: If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go with others.
Note from American Promise: American Promise Associations across the nation bring together local citizens to take concrete, guided steps to win successes toward the victory of an amendment to get big money out of politics. Click here to learn more about APAs in your area.