What is the No Corporate Money campaign all about?

The No Corporate Money campaign consists of two simple but powerful elements that work together. Candidates pledge to take no corporate money, and voters declare our intentions to vote for candidates who take no corporate money. The NCM mission is to elect people free of corporate influence into our government, using power we already have, with existing laws.

What inspired the idea?

Two very opposite movements inspired the organizers of the No Corporate Money campaign.

One was the Grover Norquist “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” that started in 1986. Candidates pledge to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. That campaign attracted a lot of regular folks, but the people it really empowered were the 1%.

On the 99% side is the pledge taken by Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates when they have run for city council seats in Richmond, California starting in 2002. Democrats, Greens and independents refused corporate contributions, and they began to win elections against the big money Democrats funded by Chevron and developers.

And another inspiration is the Occupy movement. Occupy was about empowering the 99% in all ways, through taking care of ourselves and each other, to stopping the oligarchy of the 1% from controlling our lives. People in power either smashed the Occupy encampments as in Oakland, California, or welcomed Occupy marchers as in nearby Richmond. Corporate campaign contributions are a key way to differentiate public officials who will be on our side, and those who will not.

How is the No Corporate Money campaign different from organizations like Move-to-Amend and others?

The No Corporate Money campaign works alongside organizations that are working to change the laws, such as Move to Amend, Clean Money, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Represent-US and many others. With the No Corporate Money campaign, we use power we have in our hands right now, with existing laws, to elect government officials who will be free to present the facts supporting the legislative changes, carry the legislation, push for passage, and enforce the laws, unencumbered by pressure to please corporate sponsors and lobbyists.

Polls prove people want election reforms. The irony is that we’ve been successful: laws have changed — for the worse! We need to replace people in office who are thwarting our efforts, with decision-makers who are on our side. Government officials who accept money from corporations and developers are inevitably beholden to their interests, not ours. We can change that miserable fact; a trend has begun in which candidates are taking No Corporate Money; and the trend is growing.

What makes you think elections change anything anyway?

If you want to know if your vote means anything, consider how hard the 0.1% works to get us NOT to vote, or to vote only for the candidates they fund and make famous. It’s ironic — they know better than we do how powerful our votes are. The Koch brothers announce they will contribute millions in elections knowing they can discourage people from voting at all.  As further discouragement, voting systems remain complicated and suspect.

Elections, combined with strong social movements and bottom-up cooperative organizing, have made powerful changes in the lives of people in places as close as Richmond, California, and as far away as countries in South America.

I’m in! How will I know who the No Corporate Money candidates are?

Candidates will often point it out themselves, so listen for it. This website will list No Corporate Money candidates when we find out about them. As the number of NCM candidates grows, this grassroots campaign will also grow in its ability to get out the word as widely as possible.

Slates and individuals who have run No Corporate Money campaigns is already growing. Here’s a partial list from over the years.

1992 — Green Party became ballot-qualified in CA; all candidates run no corporate money; hundreds of races have been won
2002 — Richmond Progressive Alliance began running Democrats, Greens and independents with no corporate money; first of many victories was Gayle McLaughlin, Green, for City Council
2012 — Norman Solomon, Democrat, ran for Congress and finished third in a field of 12
2013 — Kshama Sawant, Socialist, was elected to the Seattle City Council, no corporate money
2014 — Derek Cressman, Democrat, ran for California Secretary of State, no corporate money
2016 — Bernie Sanders, Social Democrat, is running for President, no corporate money

What exactly is the pledge?

The key is that the candidate accepts no corporate money and no developer money, which is especially prevalent in local elections. This includes corporate and developer PACs and lobbyists.

The question comes up about how to tell if a person is a fake No Corporate Money candidate. In general, corporate candidates and corporations (such as the huge media conglomerates) do not even want to say the phrase “no corporate money.” As the No Corporate Money movement grows, we can make use of the wonderful websites providing information about candidates’ donors, such as MapLight and  OpenSecrets.

What if someone signs the pledge but they are so rich they self-finance their campaign?

Ross Perot in 1992 and Donald Trump in 2016 are examples of self-financed super-rich candidates, and a voter needs to look at their values to decide. SmartVoter is provided by the the League of Women Voters as a way for candidates to say in their own words what they stand for, and for voters to easily discover who shares their values.