I join the overwhelming majority of Americans to demand an amendment to the United States Constitution to end the domination of big money in politics and give voice to all Americans.
 
I will stand with all Americans, without regard to party or other differences, and urge all candidates and elected officials to do the same, in order to pass and ratify such a constitutional amendment as soon as possible.

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March 21, 2024

Leadership Quarterly

Leadership Quarterly

March 21, 2024
Published By American Promise
“The Tipping Point is getting closer. Because you believe in America and the American Promise strategy, and invested your funds, hearts, and minds, we are ready.”

Opening Letter

Dear friends: 

The Tipping Point is getting closer. Because you believe in America and the American Promise strategy, and invested your funds, hearts, and minds, we are ready. 

You are among our Leadership Community of investors, board members, Advisory Council, volunteer leaders, and key partners because you know that America needs big, constitutional solutions and a movement of civic renewal. Almost every American urgently wants the systemic corruption of money in our elections to end. And huge cross-partisan majorities support the only way it will end: passage and ratification of the constitutional amendment to move power closer to the people, and enable regulation of election spending. 

We’re ready because you made possible the $20M capital raise to fuel the growth we need to win. Now, we’re past $15M, which we’re deploying to double our staff, expand our state teams, open our Congress office, build better communications and outreach, and mobilize Americans to win. 

You’ll see the results of these investments throughout this quarterly update. You’ll see even bigger results coming soon. If you haven’t yet made your commitment, please be in touch to let us know how we can help you make the impact you want. We plan to close the $20M raise later this year. 

To all of you, deepest thanks from all of us at American Promise. 

Best wishes, 

Jeff Clements
CEO

Save The Date - NCLC and Leadership Dinner

Please join us in the Washington, DC area from Monday, June 10 through Wednesday, June 12 for our annual National Citizen Leadership Conference. The conference will feature inspiring mainstage speakers and educational breakout sessions at the Hotel AKA in Alexandria, VA on Tuesday, followed by a Citizen Lobby Day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. We encourage you to register here

On the eve of the conference, Monday June 10, we invite you and other key leaders to attend an evening of dinner and conversation at the Majestic Restaurant in Alexandria. We will be joined by members of the American Promise Board and National Advisory Council, as well as funding partners and reform allies. We hope you will be able to join the conversation as we kick off a great convening of thought leaders engaged in this historic mission.

6:00PM
The Majestic
911 King Street
Alexandria, VA 

Please RSVP lizh@americanpromise.net 

Progress in the States

Every successful constitutional amendment campaign runs through the States, and so does ours. American Promise is on track to win the ⅔ vote we need in Congress and ratification in the states because we leverage our State wins and “ready-to-ratify” model of sustained support. Thanks to you, in 2024 we’re building on 22 state wins. Brian Boyle, our Chief Program Officer and General Counsel,  and Kaitlin LaCasse, our Senior Director of Programs and Campaigns have brought on experienced pros, Jason Arredondo and Julia Brown, to direct multiple state “ready to ratify” campaigns across the country. With our state teams on the ground, expanded communications program, and – most importantly- the massive support of Americans across the spectrum, we’re seeing good results. 

Overwhelming Cross-Partisan Support in Wyoming 

Wyoming has called itself the Equality State ever since it led the way to the 19th Amendment and the right to vote for women. Now Wyoming is rallying behind  the For Our Freedom Amendment. In February, a majority of the Wyoming House voted for a state resolution calling  Congress to pass the constitutional amendment to enable Congress and the states to regulate election spending and to ensure transparency. 

The strong backing of well over half of Wyoming’s state representatives follows from the overwhelming, cross-partisan support. Wyoming’s conservative voters, like all Americans, have been deeply impacted by dark money and outside influence in their elections. 

Our Wyoming team included a top notch government affairs team in Cheyenne, as well as key coalition partners, respected spokespeople (including former Senator Alan Simpson, a beloved member of this Leadership Community!) and coordinated earned media coverage. Also, hats off to longtime American Promise volunteer, Representative Ken Chestek for his continued leadership in Wyoming!

The measure required a 2/3 vote to prevail, and approval in the Senate, which we’re building out to achieve in the next session.  We’re reasonably confident, and look forward to adding Wyoming to our list of 22 states “Ready to Ratify!”

American Promise Wyoming Volunteers Rep. Ken Chestek and Rod Morrison

Wisconsin Sees Gains 

We deployed our Wisconsin State Manager Alan LaPolice, digital and volunteer resources, business leaders, civic partnerships, and savvy cross-partisan messaging and engagement to make big gains in Wisconsin this quarter. Results: More than a dozen legislators from both political parties have sponsored a joint resolution to back the For Our Freedom Amendment. on to enable effective anti-corruption limits on election spending.  State legislators are following the lead of more than 170 Wisconsin communities that have enacted resolutions calling for the constitutional amendment.

The Wisconsin progress accelerated thanks to the leadership of our volunteer team, including American Promise board member Alex Renard who leveraged his personal and business relationships to help broaden support among Republican legislators. Several other members of the state volunteer team responded promptly in drafting pieces for local media. And longtime American Promise volunteers Judy Nagel, Gail Garrity-Reed, Lee Rasch and Alex Renard led citizen lobbying efforts of voters across the state, including some who worked the floors in Madison, some who worked the phones and 700 who sent emails to state legislators asking for support. Legislators in the state commented it seemed that American Promise was approaching them from everywhere – the below map demonstrates the incredible reach of these citizen efforts.

Map of volunteer action in Wisconsin, including signing petitions for resolutions, contacting legislators, and signing our citizen pledge.

This effort drove the For Our Freedom resolution to within two votes before the legislative session ended. We’ll be back for the win. 

In the meantime, the American Promise ready-to-ratify model doesn’t stop. With American Promise veteran Alan LaPolice leading volunteers and staff on the ground for upcoming “Freedom is Brewing” events, including the massive Summerfest! and ongoing engagement.

American Promise staff and volunteers table at the Brown County Fair to build support for the For Our Freedom Amendment in Wisconsin

A Win in Pennsylvania

With a groundswell of support and the leadership of new American Promise Pennsylvania State Manager Matt Powell we just secured a big win with the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee passing a resolution urging support for a constitutional amendment to allow states to regulate campaign financing. With a resounding 22-3 victory, the committee is backing up what most voters in Pennsylvania want. As the resolution now moves to the House for a floor vote, Pennsylvanians are one step closer to their voices being heard, and their power being restored. 

This strong majority showing in a divided state shows the cross partisan desire for our constitutional solutions. We expect this resolution to pass and anticipate adding Pennsylvania to the 22 states already calling for the For Our Freedom Amendment.


American Promise staff and volunteers ahead of meeting with legislators in Pennsylvania.

Our volunteer leaders have been at the forefront of our progress in Pennsylvania, from meeting with officials to engaging their own networks and communities, including Rotary Clubs and local Chambers of Commerce. We’ll bolster this strong volunteer base through tabling at fairs this summer.

American Promise Pennsylvania State Manager, Matt Powell, and volunteer John Stroup, meet with Pennsylvania Senator Scott E. Hutchinson as resolutions move through both chambers.

Resolution in Minnesota Advances

American Promise volunteers and supporters joined allies and publicly testified in support of a resolution that calls on congress to set limits on unlimited campaign spending by differentiating between natural persons and artificial entities. The Minnesota House Elections, Finance, and Policy Committee voted to send this bill to the floor of the House. Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, meeting with legislators on both sides of the aisle, we are hopeful about Minnesota joining the 22 states calling for the For Our Freedom Amendment.

American Promise volunteers with Minnesota Rep. Athena Hollins after publicly testifying in support of a resolution.

Building Support in Arizona

We launched our Arizona work in late 2023, and it is picking up speed. American Promise State Manager Tim Castro is expanding engagement with local leaders, including Chincano’s Por La Cause, the largest Latino service social agency in the southwest, and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. We’re gaining political support with several local candidates signing our Candidate Pledge, as Tim meets with Arizonans running for office across the political spectrum. With the Spring “fairs and festivals” season, we’ll be out there to spread the work and develop a strong volunteer base in the state.


American Promise Arizona State Manager Tim Castro with Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs

Maine Win, Litigation Underlines Urgency of Constitutional Amendment

Last November, American Promise and the Protect Maine Elections campaign won in Maine, with 86% of Mainers approving a law to stop foreign government spending in state elections. It was the largest margin of victory of any statewide referendum in Maine’s history. Now several global corporations- owned or controlled by foreign governments– that spent $100M in Maine elections in recent years, and a media consortium that wants to keep the money flowing, filed a federal lawsuit to block the law, citing Citizens United

We were ready: The Maine Attorney General is defending the foreign money law, and American Promise and Protect Maine Elections are moving ahead with the part of the law that backs the For Our Freedom Amendment. Maine not only is one of the 22 States backing our amendment, but has added pressure under the new law, which requires the State Ethics Commission to report on progress– or obstacles- to how Maine’s cross-partisan Congressional delegation is helping to get the amendment out of Congress with a win. Our State Manager Chris Cayer and team on the ground–  who led 600 volunteers in the ballot campaign – continue to lead the ongoing Ready-to-Ratify campaign in the state.

Support Grows in Texas

American Promise staff and volunteers are busy in Texas meeting with a variety of Republican organizations and securing congressional candidate pledges. As we continue to strengthen and expand our volunteer base in Texas, we are happy to welcome Matt Howerton to the team. Matt has extensive experience working in Republican political campaigns, including in digital, communications, and consulting. Led by Matt and longtime American Promise volunteer, Ann Drumm, we are working to gain support among voters and candidates for the For Our Freedom Amendment in Texas.

American Promise Chief Programs Officer and General Counsel Brian Boyle, Political Manager Matt Howerton, and volunteer Ann Drumm meet with political organizations in Texas to garner support for the For Our Freedom Amendment.

Moving Congress

To win, we need 290 votes in the House. We have 200. We need 67 in the Senate. We have 50. Our campaigns focus on States where the rest of the votes in Congress are going to come from. 

There’s a myth about the “impossibility” of a ⅔ vote in Congress. Last week, the grave concern about foreign government control of powerful social media platforms like TikTok drove  339 yes votes in the House, well over ⅔. That follows dozens of similar lopsided ⅔ votes on budget, NATO, defense, labor, CHIPs Act and more. 

We have a significant opportunity to get this done in Congress now. Thanks to your investment, we’ve built out our Washington D.C. team, headed up by Jim Dornan, our Director of Congressional Affairs. Jim’s a pro, with previous service with Republican Members of Congress as Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, and Legislative Director. Jim and Chief Programs Officer and General Counsel Brian Boyle have met with Members and staff in both parties, and connecting the growing support among Republican lawmakers in the states and massive voter support to the opportunity for a ⅔ win in Congress. 

And we appreciate the support of Leadership Community member and former American Promise Executive Director, Bill Cortese, who is on the House floor every day, as a key staff member with Republican leadership now.


American Promise Director of Congressional Affairs Jim Dornan and Chief Programs Officer and General Counsel Brian Boyle ahead of meeting with Congressional leadership in Washington, DC.

Young Americans Network

We grow and have impact fast because we staff and support networked advocacy and support, whether business, political, civic, faith, veterans, health care and social workers or our fantastic Young Americans Network! Grace Hall, our Young Americans Network Coordinator, connects student organizations and young activists, and builds events and college visits for education and engagement. We have recently visited with organizations and classes at Marquette University, Temple University, and the University of the District of Columbia and are currently planning many more across the country while also building a leadership council to ensure the voices of young Americans are part of the movement forward. 

American Promise Chief Program Officer Brian Boyle meets with students at the University of the District of Columbia to discuss the For Our Freedom Amendment and how they can get involved.

Expanded Communications and Research

Your investments are building our communications resources as we increase our national footprint and reach key audiences across the country. Recently, we launched a new website, launched a public affairs program with a national firm, and hired Celia Hardy as our social media manager. Celia brings experience in marketing and social media engagement at the National School Climate Center at Ramapo NYC, and digital communications with the cross-partisan organization Show Me Integrity in Missouri. 

We are also bolstering our research team in order to track the effects of money in politics across the country to drive our high-impact state and national reporting, including American Promise Research Associate Connor Flotten’s popular monthly Campaign Finance Round Up of real life stories of dark money influencing elections at the local, state, and national level. With the recent addition of Research Assistant Owen Elton, we look forward to diving even deeper into this important research. Sign up for our newsletter or keep an eye on our website for future reports. 

Our Growth Continues

We are currently hiring for additional positions. Please share the listings with your networks if you know anyone who may be interested in joining this important fight.

Investor Profile - Terence Meehan and Montie Mills Meehan

Terence Meehan and Montie Mills Meehan learned about American Promise in 2023, and we are grateful for their investment and support. As with so many of our investor “Ambassadors,” they have hosted donor events, made introductions, and engaged their networks to build support for the For Our Freedom Amendment. 

What is your occupation? 

Montie: I’ve been a clinical psychologist for over 30 years now, at a variety of levels—hospital, clinics, schools, etc, but I’ve been in private practice for the last 20 years with a focus on adults and couples therapy. 

Terry: Third generation, family-owned business.  I grew the business and then sold it.  I currently manage money.  I spend most of my time on philanthropy and I am passionate about food security and nutrition in early childhood. I am also a trained architect. I’ve done some building with bricks and sticks, but I’ve done more building for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Your preoccupation? 

Montie: Mine is very clear, it’s our grandchild who is 18 months old, and her name is Millie. I’m absolutely obsessed and preoccupied with her in the very best way.  I count my lucky stars everyday that she lives close by and we can see her often.  

Terry: My preoccupation is managing money, building family relationships, and working to help those who have less. 

What is your current state of mind?

Terry: Nervous, to put it mildly. I’m nervous about the upcoming presidential election and what it means. 

Montie: I work hard to not feel overwhelmed, and to not give in to learned helplessness, and instead to stay positive and proactive.  American Promise is in my mind one great antidote to a world packed with problems – it’s all about finding a pragmatic and impactful solution to the well defined problem of large donors being the dominant voices in American politics.  It tackles that  problem which then can help to solve many other problems.  There’s just a lot of tension in the world, and reactivity has ballooned polarization, poor communication and uncivil discourse. Those are really big problems. 

What are you reading/listening to right now?

Terry: I’m reading a book on the Sierras, and I’m also reading a book on Lincoln. So one is environmental and one is on politics. 

Montie: I’m reading and focusing on the Middle East. I just reread The Chosen, and I’m reading Apeirogon by Colum McCann, and it’s a very tough read. It’s based on a true story of an Israeli and a Palestinian man who both lost their nine and ten-year-old daughters in conflict, and they’re going around and talking to people around it. And he just gets so much detail. An Irish writer writing about that close-up look at a seemingly intractable conflict. I’m just trying to learn more about the role of religion in conflict. 

Which living person do you most admire?

Terry: I would say Pope Francis. He believes in mercy, which I think is a message of Christ. It’s about how we treat each other. And I really think he’s pushing it as far as he can, and getting some push back, but I give him credit for pushing. I give him credit for what he’s been able to do. 

Which historical figure do you most admire?

Montie: Fred Rogers. I really admire him because he focused on children and communities and kindness and civility.  Also he saw how big and potentially dangerous television might be so instead of avoiding it, he leaned into it and served up the positive. I wish there were more people like that right now. 

Terry: I would pick Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Abraham Lincoln. Moynihan, I really liked, because he bridged divides and got a lot of things done. An Irish Democrat working in a Republican president’s administration. I respect that, because he really got things done. Lyndon B. Johnson, because I like that he got an amendment passed. I would say the same for Lincoln. Which is one of the reasons I’m attracted to American Promise, because it’s about an amendment. 

What drew you to American Promise? 

Montie: It’s a deeper-level, systemic solution to a problem that is accurately described as  cross-partisan. Both parties do want this fundraising monkey off of their back, and to not be dominated by it. So American Promise is going underneath the noise to the root problem, and I think that is the only real way to change things. And I’m very encouraged by the historical analysis, that we are likely in an amendment age. That really cheers you up and takes the edge off of the learned helplessness, the feeling that there’s nothing I can do, this is too entrenched, we’re all too small.  No, there’s a lot that can be done, and has been done in the past, and we really may be at that critical mass to do it again. I think that’s very appealing.  And as Terry says, how can you walk away from such a promising moment in time without trying to be additive.

Recent and Upcoming Convenings

American Promise has always invested in connecting with all Americans, and bringing Americans together for the practice of self-government and republican democracy. It’s key to winning, but it’s also key to making democratic practice real. 

We recently participated in an event hosted by the New England Legal Foundation as part of their Economic Liberty Series on “Money, Politics, and the U.S. Constitution.” This event bolstered our Legal Network, as well as our business network, particularly among conservatives and moderates. 

On the other end of the spectrum, as part of the January anniversary of the misguided Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, we participated in a national call with Sen. Bernie Sanders to discuss the influence of big money in politics and how it prevents progress on key issues facing our country.

Back on the right, an American Promise team attended CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in Washington, DC, finding an overwhelmingly positive response, dozens of new volunteers, and a Nevada Senate candidate who signed our Candidate Pledge to support the For Our Freedom Amendment.


American Promise Chief Program Officer Brian Boyle meets with students at the University of the District of Columbia to discuss the For Our Freedom Amendment and how they can get involved.

Did you catch this year’s first Leadership Series conversation with American Promise CEO Jeff Clements and renowned historian, bestselling author, and Pulitzer Prize Finalist journalist, Colin Woodard? We covered the origins of American polarization, the dangerous divisions, and the necessity and opportunity to unite Americans to build a new American story of freedom, equality, and government of the people. You can catch up on a recording here

Keep an eye on our events page on the American Promise website to know how you can join future discussions like these. 

Time for a Constitutional Solution

This January, on the anniversary of two infamous and misguided Supreme Court decisions—Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. FEC—Americans proved they are fed up with corruption and ready for a solution. In multiple states, volunteers and elected officials wrote op-eds and letters to the editor in support of the For Our Freedom Amendment. Additionally, we had nearly 1,000 citizens sending messages to their elected officials calling for the amendment. 

The For Our Freedom Amendment is building momentum and support as Americans all over the country are taking action to push for an urgent solution to unchecked money in politics. A new poll from Pew Research Center showed that “reducing the influence of money in politics” is seen as the 3rd most important priority for Americans this year. This result is cross-partisan, as 65% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans rate this as a top priority. We are a tipping point, and the time is now for a solution that most Americans agree on. 

What We’re Reading - Key Articles

American Promise and the For Our Freedom Amendment have been all over the news in outlets across the country. Here are some great op-eds: 

  • Mitchell Hescox: To keep money from dominating our politics, change the Constitution (Pittsburgh Post Gazette
  • Opinion: It’s time to fix Washington (Portland Press Herald)
  • 14 years after Citizens United, Arizona leads the way, but our democracy demands more (Arizona Capitol Times)
  • American Promise CEO Jeff Clements had a letter published in the Financial Times, highlighting the need for a constitutional solution to money in politics. 

Also check out these articles, highlighting the issue of unchecked money in our 2024 elections, and media coverage of recent work being done towards the solution: 

  • Outside spending on 2024 elections tops $318 million (OpenSecrets)
  • Lawmakers file resolution bill that addresses ‘dark money’ in political campaigns (Wyoming Tribune Eagle)

Be sure to take a look at our March installment of the Campaign Finance Roundup, our series focusing on stories of dark money influencing recent elections. 

Want to get you or someone you know more involved in the important work of American Promise?

1) I want to help in advocacy work

Volunteer opportunities include everything from talking with neighbors and colleagues to writing letters to the editor and gathering pledges from elected officials. 

2) I want to invest in the solution

3) I want to be an American Promise Ambassador 

Join our campaign leadership as we build a network of champions volunteering to support American Promise and engage a broader community of philanthropists in our efforts to pass the For Our Freedom Amendment.

American Promise welcomes the assistance of business and community leaders in markets across the United States to serve as Ambassadors and help attract the funding necessary to capitalize the $20M campaign to pass the For Our Freedom Amendment.

Email lizh@americanpromise.net for more information on how you can get your networks involved in American Promise. 

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