Welcome to our Q4 Leadership Quarterly, an update for American Promise’s board, investors, advisors, and partners in the urgent work to secure constitutional democracy and freedom for all in America. We have had a big year, and have plans for much more ahead in 2023.
After you have a chance to review this Leadership Quarterly, please let me or Liz Harvey, our Development Director, know if you’d like to schedule some time to discuss our different avenues of giving and how you can help expand our high-impact programming. And please do continue the kind introductions of American Promise to your friends and networks.
Our country has hard challenges, and great opportunities, ahead. I am proud to be in this with you.
Strategic Updates from Executive Director Bill Cortese
American Promise has made great strides in advancing our For Our Freedom amendment across a number of states recently.
In Pennsylvania, we have resolutions in both the Senate and House calling on their federal delegation to address the problem of unlimited, unaccountable dark money spending in our elections. Along with endorsements and support from numerous chambers of commerce across the state, our bi-partisan resolutions are a big step forward and will represent the first Republican-led legislature to pass such legislation.
In Wisconsin, civic and business leaders in the Greater Green Bay Area are leading the way. Through the Green Bay Rotary Club, we have made big inroads in another key midwestern state that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars flow into its election just this year.
In the northeast, we continue to work hand in glove with the Protect Maine Elections campaign that turned in over 80,000 signatures to put a question on the ballot in 2023 that will prevent foreign entities from spending in Maine elections. This effort represents one of our most robust and effective grassroots efforts to date.
Heading into 2023 we see incredible opportunities in a number of states that saw hundreds of millions of dollars flood their airwaves for the last year. Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina are all purple states that have been on the frontlines of the spending wars between conservative and progressive dark money groups. Elections in Minnesota and Michigan’s state legislatures offer us further opportunity to grow our grassroots support in the Midwest.
In Wyoming, our very own Ken Chestek won his race for State Representative last week. Ken has been a tireless advocate for the For Our Freedom amendment and we could not be more pleased to have one of our very own in Cheyenne. This proves that even in a red state our message works.
Building on our past work and our efforts in NCLC, we expect to see significant progress in Congress in 2023. The tight margins provide us an opportunity to bring Republicans and Democrats together on an issue that unites Americans. Based on our conversations with current members and the makeup of the incoming Congress, we expect to have six Republican co-sponsors on our For Our Freedom amendment by the end of 2023.
The political uncertainty gives us an opportunity to offer a real solution to people across the country who know the effects that unlimited and unaccountable dark money has on our society. Our task is not easy, but with our dedicated staff and committed community of leaders, we know that together, we will win this essential effort.
National Citizen Leadership Conference and Lobby Day
“We’re up against this tyrant that is big money that is taking over our politics. You guys recognize that, and see that it is so important, that it is the fundamental crux of our issues right now.”
Pay-To-Play Politics & The Money Arms Race: A Recap
Our American Promise - Donor Spotlights
This quarter’s donor profile section looks a little different. As we approach the new year and reflect on all that you have made possible in 2022, we chose to talk to you about what inspires you to engage with our amendment, and with our work to end the crisis of corruption we face. Thank you for your foundational support, and for all the unique reasons that brought you to the American Promise family.
Ken Chestek University of Wyoming, Professor of Law
“To me, campaign finance reform is the "index issue" of our time. There are many problems we need to fix in our country, but we can't fix any of them until we rid the system of dark money and bought-and-paid-for politicians. I also love working on this issue because it is nonpartisan: this is an issue where Republicans and Democrats can work together to make a positive difference in getting our political system to work for the voters, not the special interests.
Sarah Lazarus Senior Vice President, Dukas Linden Public Relations
“A recent New York Times poll indicates that 70% of Americans think democracy is under threat - let that sink in - 70%. American Promise is the best way I can think of to get to the root of the issue in our political system - big money - on both sides of the aisle. I truly believe our nation is at a crucial inflection point and that political violence will only escalate until we can solve this existential problem. American Promise is an imperative investment in the future of our nation.”
John Conley Member and Director at LaunchPad Venture Group
What motivates me to support the work of American Promise is my belief that we’re in one of those critical points in United States history when structural reform is required to keep our republic living up to its values of democratic participation and equality under the law. The creep of corruption from vested interests buying undue influence over government policies is the never-ending challenge faced by all liberal democratic societies. We’re overdue for another political reform movement in the US, and each of our several past ones brought about a healthier and more sustainable systems.
Sterling Speirn Interim President & CEO, Maine Community Foundation
If we are to realize the great potential of all the innovative non-partisan structural reforms that are slowly, but steadily gaining more traction and attention among everyday citizens, we must address the outsized and distorting influence of big money in our political campaigns. Overturning Citizens United by amending the Constitution, is the key to unleashing the great benefits of open primaries, rank choice voting, and public control of drawing district boundaries. The For Our Freedom Amendment is the 3rd stage rocket fuel that can amplify the momentum of complementary reforms, and ultimately enable our shackled democracy to reach escape velocity from the destructive gravity of corrupt election spending.