Inspired by her commitment to action on the climate crisis, Texas citizen leader Ann Drumm is rallying her neighbors in north Texas and working with American Promise to make meaningful change around big money in politics in her home state.
The lack of action toward solutions for the world’s climate crisis is one of the most critical and frustrating ways the influence of big money stymies legislative action in our nation. Record numbers of Americans are alarmed about global warming, with more than seven out of 10 saying the issue is important to them, yet Americans’ urgent calls for action are met with paralysis in Washington.
Ann Drumm is among those Americans concerned about the climate crisis. She has applied her research and advocacy skills as a non-practicing lawyer to full-time environmental activism for the last 15 years. In addition to volunteering at Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonpartisan advocacy group, Ann is now organizing the first American Promise Association in Texas to pursue her goals through the lens of democracy reform.
“I’ve come to believe that addressing the problem of money in politics is necessary to achieve meaningful climate action, at least on the national level,” Ann says.
Finding a Focus
An avid reader, Ann has educated herself about the connection between big-money interests and climate inaction in Congress. The books Dark Money by Jane Mayer and Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig, an American Promise Advisory Council member, influenced her growing concern about the role of money in Congress’ refusal to act on climate. Ann has studied a variety of reform topics, including gerrymandering, campaign finance, and ranked-choice voting.
While building a deep understanding of the issue, Ann also started attending events to get involved. She credits the 2017 and 2018 Unrig Summits as essential for networking with volunteers and leaders in other organizations. Upon realizing that much of the national reform activity happens in other states via initiative and referendum processes, an option that her home state of Texas doesn’t have, she decided to figure out another strategy.
Making it Local
Ann is in the early stages of developing the North Texas APA from the ground up. The region encompasses approximately 7 million people living in Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton, McKinney and many smaller cities and towns. The national organization has been instrumental in preparing the APA for success across such a large area, she says.
To help raise awareness and engagement, American Promise President Jeff Clements and Counsel Johannes Epke visited Dallas for a “Writing the 28th Amendment” Town Hall. A week later, the APA launch party welcomed Citizen Empowerment Coordinator Kimberly Clinch and State Manager Azor Cole. American Promise staff members have helped build interest and provide comprehensive chapter launch plans and training materials, putting the North Texas APA on course for success.
While Ann is building the foundation for the North Texas APA, she’s also building the action plan to achieve the group’s goals. She hopes to coordinate efforts across this large region by creating teams in at least a dozen cities and tasking each with working toward passing city council resolutions. More than 800 of these local resolutions have been passed nationwide, calling on Congress to support the 28th Amendment to get big money out of politics, and they are the building blocks for larger state resolutions. So far Austin is the only city in Texas to have passed a resolution. Ann expects this strategy will add another dozen Texas communities to that list by the end of 2020.
Ann’s other aspirations for the North Texas APA include meeting with members of Congress, attending Lobby Days in Washington (our National Citizen Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., October 19-21 caps off with a national lobbying day of action) and launching a candidate pledge campaign later this year. But she’s taking the process step-by-step, starting with the basics.
“Right now, we’re focused on forming teams, training volunteers, and getting a plan in place for each team,” Ann says.