American Promise groups and citizen supporters across Ohio made a major splash by working together to ask their House Congressional Representatives to join the cross-partisan effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to get money out of elections and governance.
By Ellen Greene Bush
For about a year, the American Promise group in Port Clinton—of which I am a member—was the only one in Ohio. We saw it as part of our mission to work along with our national leadership to encourage the growth of other state groups. And now we have a Central Ohio American Promise group working along with us with energy and enthusiasm. And three other groups in Ohio are launching in 2019.
While organizing between the Port Clinton and Central Ohio groups, we recognized that with the 116th Congress came a new opportunity. With a change of House leadership and membership, we decided to focus our message on our U.S. Representatives. Ted Knapke, of Columbus, put it this way: "There is a need for reform at all levels—local, state and national—regarding campaign finance reform. The majority of voters nationwide, regardless of political affiliation, want change. So we thought this was the time to take action at the federal level."
With that in mind, we asked constituents in all 16 Ohio Congressional Districts to contact their representatives throughout January by postcard, email, phone call or office visit. We asked them to write letters to the editor. Our message: Pledge to get unlimited and hidden money out of elections and governance by joining the cross-partisan effort in Congress for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We want our representatives to know that we recognize the need for cross-partisan work on this issue, and we want Congress to make passing a 28th Amendment first and foremost on their agenda.
Central Ohio constituents sent messages to the three House Representatives in their area. Wendy Flores had a letter to the editor published in the Columbus Dispatch. We had help from Daisie Reish who is launching an American Promise group in Elyria-Lorain-Oberlin. Stacy Adams of Fremont led the effort in her district with messages to Representative Jim Jordan and a meeting with his area coordinator. We sent requests via social media and contact with family and friends. It seems like everyone knew someone in another district who got involved.
Just as these messages were coming into Congressional offices, HJR 2, the Democracy for All Amendment, was introduced into the House with cross-partisan sponsorship. It was a perfect time to amplify our message by asking for support for this 28th Amendment resolution.
Were our efforts successful? We think so. Anecdotally, when Nancy Gurney and Carol Martin met with Representative Marcy Kaptur's staff person last week, she wondered if we were the ones behind all the postcards. Ms. Kaptur took a pile of them to read on her flight back to D.C. She heard our message.
Let's persist in Ohio—and across the nation—so our dominant Republican Congressional contingent gets the message, too. We want them as co-sponsors and supporters. Jan Nishimura, of Grove City, said it well, “Please! Restore our campaign finance system to something Americans can be proud of, rather than appalled by. We don’t want billions of dollars spent on elections and influence any longer."