June 15th Meeting Follow-up and Notes

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Hello Everyone!

Thank you to all who could attend WVCCE’s last meeting! We had great focus and came up with some excellent goals for the coming year. The notes from our meeting are below.

We will be scheduling another meeting for September.

Julie and Natalie want to express our deepest sympathies for those of you who have been affected by the horrible floods and/or have friends and family that are impacted. #WVSTRONG

WV Citizens for Clean Elections Coalition Meeting

  • Attendees:
    • Natalie Thompson, OVEC/WVCCE
    • Logan Bush, WVCCE
    • Julie Archer, WV CAG/WVCCE
    • Carin Schiewe, Wellstone Action
    • Chris Kimes, WVHKF/OCOF
    • Kathy Stoltz, League of Women Voters
    • Gary Zuckett, WV CAG
    • Matt Massie, WV CAG
    • Ciera Pennington, WV CAG
    • Cindy Ellis, WVHC
    • Steve White, ACT
    • Angie Rosser, WV Rivers Coalition
    • Jeff Allen, WV Council of Churches
    • Carol Warren
    • Margaret Chapman Pomponio, WV FREE
    • Alex Gallo, WV FREE
    • Conni Gratop Lewis, WVEC
    • Sam Hickman, NASW-WV
    • Adriana Barboza, Wellstone Action


Key Questions:

  • When you think about the May 10th election and the way elections are going in general in this cycle, what stands out for you?
    • Julie – stands out is the $ in the recent Supreme Court election, was getting appeals for women from a shell organization run by Blankenship cronies
    • Chris – Supreme Court race = one of the most partisan, non-partisan races
    • Steve – looking and documenting the $ spent in the Supreme Court race, would it be helpful?
    • Jeff – The new non-partisan system creates a structural problem for races, 1-2 Republicans vs. 10 Democrats. This is a strategy to make sure Conservative Justices win because of so many votes split.
    • MCP – Gubernatorial race = Justice won simply because he is rich
    • Conni – huge number of very young people voting, many for the first time; need for runoff elections when no one gets a majority
    • Sam – Beth Walker sued public financing candidates, resulting in condemnation of public financing.
    • Kathy – Worries about public sentiment around public financing, also upset no runoff elections
    • Chris – Narrative of Trump being an “outsider” is helping Justice in the Gubernatorial race.
    • Natalie – Need to put message on first grade level, how do you compete if you can’t/don’t do the same?
    • Carol – specialized skill to simplify message
    • Adriana Barboza – Higher level language = “insider” language + could be indigestible and alienating to some


Impacts:  How does this impact the issues(s) you’re working on?

  • Julie – works on oil & gas issues, see how the recent hits and decline of coal affects upcoming election
  • Logan – There will continue to be more money coming from third party groups = not much to do about that
  • Chris – Poised at different position b/c deliberately very non-partisan; potentially could be encouraging for activists who push someone out they don’t like, but also could seem like OCOF organized to do that
  • Jeff – affects all of our policies, b/c everything that comes out of the election comes from a particular narrative from a few people (wealthy people should have wealth, poor people drag on economy, don’t need regulations, etc.); every time that narrative is shared, it makes it harder to change the narrative
  • Carol – thinks constituents who are most harmed are ones buying into it, finds it unbelievable
  • Alex – women should have say over body, male narrative dominates even in female candidates; when you are one of the only women, you lead in fear
  • Chris – lack of diversity is a shame
  • Natalie – influences of $ is too powerful
  • Logan – paralyzes government—electeds are afraid to go up against the money to stand for the constituents.
  • Conni – environmental issues = quality of life and that isn’t the most important to people who are struggling to even survive. People most impacted are “buying” the conservative/corporate narrative.  Environmental issues are perceived of as luxuries compared to other issues like jobs, health.  Need to get the message out there that we shouldn’t have to choose between them.
  • Kathy – hard to counteract messages and often false information put out there without $
  • Ciera – $ in elections creates apathy for not voting/being involved in politics, which then perpetuates the problem
  • Angie – last session a lot of issues were dealt with with no one asking for those “issues” to be addressed. The legislative session was not reflective of what constituents need/want.
  • Gary – environmental groups have made more progress through supreme court in the last 10 years than any other way; supreme court election really has an impact on that. With the influx of money and impact on the courts, there’s no buffer zone to protect the environment.


Challenges:  Given what we’re seeing, what are the major challenges and opportunities we have to set-up for advancing disclosure and other democratic reforms now through the November elections?


  • Julie – Communicating with the public: Whatever the outcome of the election there is going to be negative rhetoric. What is our vehicle for getting the message out in a clear, concise, compelling way to the right audience?
  • Cindy – Continuing to engage young folks who supported Bernie
  • Alex – how to keep momentum and morale up regardless of how election goes
  • Angie – who do we tell our constituents to vote for at gubernatorial level when no candidates are for our issues? It’s a choice between bad and worse.
  • Natalie – need people to vote
  • Steve – need to communicate better
  • Chris – marketing!
  • Kathy – Hard to persuade people their vote matters and that gov’t does good things; hard to lay blame where it is needed when the election is perceived of as non-partisan
  • Carol – “cutting through the crap” not “dumbing it down”




  • Logan – State Budget scenario provides opportunity to change the narrative: problem, solution, action
  • Julie – highlighting misplaced priorities
  • Jeff – opportunity to highlight $ in campaign contributions versus the average income
  • Alex – opportunity to change the narrative
  • Chris – how do we prep our messaging without getting in the weeds
  • Jeff – opportunity for popular education–have to take the time to go and listen to people, neither party has been listening to people, this is why we have Bernie and Trump; we need to create popular education model, offer different narrative as to why things are the way they are
  • Adriana Barboza – Take Action Minnesota did 10 year plan that started with first 3 years of listening to people in rural communities and created legislative agenda from it, has won some big campaigns
  • Chris – Opportunity to engage new voters–voter participation rate was high in primary
  • Alex – creating pipeline for new candidates
  • Jeff—Opportunity to focus on the Senate/legislative races
  • Kathy –Disclosure is needed: honed in the need for public $/get money out of politics
  • Chris – with disclosure, we’d know who was getting what money where, which could give us an idea of why they take a position that they do


Vision of Success/Goals


  • Gary – Out of state money outspent in-state money in past election = could make the case for robust disclosure bill; need $ for public financing campaign. Recent judicial election showed that there’s a need to amend the judicial election laws, ask for runoff elections.


  • Goals
    • Pass strong disclosure legislation in 2017—primary focus
      • Logan – disclosure is most important, bedrock of all of it
      • Chris – it’ll be in the bill to raise caps, probably
      • Julie – disclosure has been a defensive measure against attempts to raise the cap; disclosure bill didn’t succeed when it was last introduced
      • Logan – Shell corporations contribute to the problem of circumventing disclosure laws
      • Public financing funding at this point should not be a goal – not urgent, any way we try they’ll spin it as not having the $ because of the budget crisis
    • Explore other pro-active reforms:
      • Run-off elections for judicial races
      • Supreme Court elections – would be happy to see back to partisan, unsure how people would feel about runoffs; have to see how conversation goes


  • Defend against measures to discredit and/or kill public financing and open up rules for people/corps to donate to campaigns. (Gary)


  • Build capacity for a campaign to secure funds for public financing for the next judicial election in 2020. **This, however, is a longer term goal especially in the current budget deficit scenario.


  • Build the base of support/coalition


  • Fairness WV
  • Past candidates
  • Trial lawyers
  • Other labor?
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Inspire WV
  • Mountaineers for Progress
  • Student groups?
  • Tuesday Morning Group


*Create different tiers of involvement to help bring people in who may not have this as their main concern* Add Wooton to our list of potential allies. See Power map for more additions. (Our Children, Our Future; ACLU; American Friends Service Committee; Dem. Party leader/ Dem. Women; WV FREE; Other environmental groups (WVEC member groups)


Possible Strategies

  • Explore how to use a campaign for enforcement of disclosure as a vehicle to shift the narrative/ re-define the problem/solution and engage allies, activists & voters. Work with Natalie Tennant as an ally.
    • Steve – WV has decent disclosure rules but they go unenforced
    • Julie – worth looking into filing suit with the Secretary of State to improve enforcement; you don’t need the legislature in that case
    • Angie – enforcement of campaign finance disclosure; great time for the conversation in an election year; will set the stage for legislation
    • Steve – best part for this group would be to expose problems publicly to help ourselves.
    • Adriana Barboza – elevating disclosure with candidates, public, media will place us with more power when we want to pass things or fight things in the next legislative session Secondary targets for Natalie Tennant
    • Julie & Conni – Secondary targets re: Tennant–Democratic party leaders, particularly women, WV FREE



  • Challenges/Opportunities : Using enforcement to elevate the conversation on disclosure
    • Challenges
      • People are too busy working on partisan campaigns to participate. We might be sidelined/marginalized because we’re non-partisan.
      • We need to make sure we stay within C3 parameters
    • Opportunities
      • Election season, people will be more likely to care/pay attention
      • Opportunity to engage new activists/allies depending on tactics
      • Opportunity to strengthen relationship with Tennant
      • Could also benefit Tennant’s credibility and strengthen her commitment to advancing our issues


Possible Tactics

  • Natalie–See handout on key words/phrases
    • Collect post cards from groups with these messages on them
      • Create messages for the organizations connecting their issue with disclosure
      • Be delivered to legislators
      • Impact on legislators depends on who delivers and when they deliverwhat is the handle/ask to legislators?
      • This is a good vehicle to educate members about the connection between our issues and disclosure/democracy
    • Create internal education materials—e.g. newsletter articles
      • Gary – candidate forums, bring up disclosure
      • Steve – “ding a bell” every time we see problems with disclosure in upcoming election. Create a citizen led task force to help monitor reporting online.
      • Adriana Barboza – Iowa bird-dogging, dressed up as chickens to ask questions, “too chicken to stand up for what they believe in”
      • Gary – Release report on disclosure
      • Adriana Barboza – do workshops, hold press conference
      • Adriana Barboza – get allies to be champions to avoid them being outed as not doing their job (i.e. with Natalie Tennant)


Action Steps

  • Confirm language on post cards
  • Small delegation to speak with Natalie Tennant
    • Research enforcement gaps beforehand
    • Have an “ask” and an offer of help
    • Team: Gary, Steve, Kathy, Natalie, Julie
  • Release Logan’s report
    • Develop education materials from it
      • 1 pager
      • Newsletter articles
      • Memes for social media
    • Candidate pledge
    • Online petition
    • Reach out to the list of other groups to invite into the coalition
    • Voter engagement opportunities to discuss voting AND disclosure
    • Explore bird dogging
Updated: August 3, 2016 — 2:29 pm

The Author

Julie Archer

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