Press Release

The Democracy Initiative Welcomes NAACP Interim President & CEO Derrick Johnson to the Board of Directors

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

September 20, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic coalition of 60 diverse issue organizations, welcomes NAACP Interim President Derrick Johnson to the board of directors. Johnson was selected to lead the historic civil rights organization in July while the board searches for a new president. As a longtime member of the NAACP, President Johnson’s strategic leadership will help foster continued mobilization of millions of members across the country for democracy.

The Democracy Initiative launched in 2013 – by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), NAACP, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club – to mobilize members to demand a democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. Since its first convening, endorsing groups have represented a diverse range of progressive issues, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice. All partners hold a firm belief that success in any of these areas depends on civil engagement and participation in democracy.

“Derrick Johnson understands how to engage, move, and mobilize citizens to engage in civic life and have their voices heard at all levels of government,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause president. “These are skills the Democracy Initiative is in the process of teaching, implementing, and moving to scale as voters remind politicians that they serve in the public interest, not wealthy special interests. We welcome Derrick’s leadership, his experience, and his vision as we build a democracy that works for all Americans.”

“The Democracy Initiative creates a collaborative space for a diverse set social justice organizations to take collective action and advance just causes by creating a more inclusive democracy,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP interim president and CEO. “I am pleased to join the DI board of directors. We are all stronger when we work together to make sure our government delivers on the promise of a democracy for all."

The Democracy Initiative launched its most ambitious program, Democracy 365, to focus the energy of the millions of grassroots members within in the coalition to win large scale reforms at the state and local level. The program will officially start later this fall; however, the DI is already seeing the impact of this new effort. The DI mobilized members around 5 coordinated state actions across the U.S. on the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to push back on their attempts to shrink our voting power. These actions featured members of the diverse coalition speaking boldly on the need for a proactive vision for democracy that ensures all eligible voters can fully participate. The NAACP was involved in many of these actions, mobilizing members and providing local leadership as speakers.

“NAACP is a founding member of the Democracy Initiative and their presence is invaluable to the coalition, said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “Already, President Johnson has added his voice to our Democracy365 program and I’m excited to partner with him and the incredible members of the NAACP to advance democracy reforms so we can hold leaders accountable on issues like criminal justice reform, policy brutality, economic development, and climate justice.”

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 60 organizations representing 30 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.07.17 - Special: Pence-Kobach Mobilization

Thursday, September 7, 2017

“As a child of immigrants, I am appalled that this administration is turning their backs on young people. POTUS has fueled hate and animosity towards immigrants despite their many contributions to our economy – often in low-wage jobs.  DACA recipients are part of America – they are consumers, students, service men and women, teachers, nurses, and many of the hardworking people that go unrecognized on a daily basis. Ending DACA is yet another example of the continued assault on everyday people seeking to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.”  

-Wendy Fields, Executive Director.

Read the full press release here. Stay up to date here on ways to engage members and support the organizations and DI partners including, CASA and UnidosUS, working to #DefendDACA and build a grassroots democracy movement to win, and make leadership changes.

Join the action on SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 for democracy

Mobilize Members Nationally and in the States to Send a Strong Message to the Sham Commission

Today, millions of eligible voters are denied the right to vote or blocked from fully participating in democracy. Across the country, everyday people are coming together to stand up for a democracy that works for all people, not just wealthy special interests. We are calling for a democracy where all eligible voters are registered, all voters can cast a ballot, and all votes are counted. The president’s sham election integrity commission is filled with bad actors who have made a career of blocking everyday people from participating in voting. Over 50 groups and hundreds of people across the country are pushing back on attempts to shrink the voting power of everyday citizens, and calling for adopting pro-democracy reforms to increase participation at all levels.


 


1) Join the Day of Action on September 12, 2017: Demand a Democracy that Works for All

The Democracy Initiative, in collaboration with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights as well as many state and national organizations are planning multiple grassroots actions and online mobilizations to lift up the stories of the millions of Americans whose basic right to participate in democracy is in jeopardy. Please access the Democracy Initiative’s Pence-Kobach Mobilization Packet to support the mobilizations in the states.

Mobilize your members to attend an action in these states: details here!

* New Hampshire (Manchester), Tuesday, September 12, 8am EST, at the St. Anslem College (RSVP)
* Georgia (Atlanta), Tuesday, September 12, 12pm EST, at the Georgia State Capitol (RSVP)
* Missouri (St. Louis), Tuesday, September 12, 11am CST at the St. Louis History Museum
* Missouri/Kansas (Kansas City), Tuesday, September 12, 12pm CST, at Ilus Davis Park
* Arizona (Phoenix), Tuesday, September 12, 9am MST, at the Arizona State Capitol

2) Sign the Pledge: Join with Thousands in Solidarity for a Democracy for All!

We the People have the power improve and protect the lives of working class families, our communities, our environment, and our nation 365 days a year.

We stand together to for a democracy where:

· All eligible voters can register to vote,
· Every vote is cast and counted securely, and
· All communities have the freedom to participate equally in the democratic process.

Share the pledge with your members to show the solidarity of our movement. Email David (dsanchez@democracyinitiative.org) for a personalized link to the pledge so you can track your members who take action.

3) Light Up Social Media: Show The Commission What Democracy Looks Like!

 

No matter who you are, we all should be able to participate in our democracy. When we come together and vote, we can make sure we have safe schools, clean water, and an economy that works for everyone.  Share the Thunderclap telling the commission that our democracy is about participation not purges!  Share sample facebook posts and tweets with your members here. #DontMessWithOurVote

4) Tell A Personal Narrative: Our Votes are Under Attack

When we stand together, we can hold our leaders accountable. It is time to make sure we preserve the protections for our health, our neighbors, and the environment. Mobilize your members to share a short quote on why voting matters to them and connecting the dots to core issues such as the environment, criminal justice, and healthcare. Email Michelle Whittaker, mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org.


Tuesday, September 12 at 8pm ET: Tune in for the Facebook Live Town Hall

Kris Kobach and other commissioners want to use the flawed Interstate Crosscheck, which could purge millions of eligible voters, targets minorities based on insufficient data, and is threat to our democracy. Learn how our partner’s members are at risk of being purged and how you can plug into actions through social media and in person the morning of the Commission.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

Bi-Monthly Mobilizing Meeting

NEXT MEETING:

September 20th at 3pm EST / 12pm PST

RSVP to gkassa@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org.

Our bi-monthly meetings focus on field strategy with groups working both at the national and state level so we can collaborate and move democracy reforms effectively. All DI Members are welcome.


Protect Our Communities #DefendDACA

August 15th marked the 5th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Over the past 5 years, 800,000 young people have been protected through the program. The Trump Administration ordered an end to DACA and the protections it provides to these 800,000 young people. This lack of compassion is in stark contrast to the core values of a nation built by immigrants and native people. Stand in solidarity with DI Partner, CASA to #DefendDACA.

Mobilize your members to #DefendDACA and stay updated on actions here:

  • Urge your Senators to do everything in their power to protect DACA and defend immigrant youth. Senators and Representatives through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
  • Sign this petition advocating for DACA to be kept in place.


Stay Connected with DI Partners

We're using a new online tool, Mobilize, to engage with our partners. You may have received an email in your inbox. You don't need to sign-up to get updates on activities. If you're not part of the hub, fill out this form to join.


Want to share a victory or call to action in the fight for democracy? Email us for a chance to spread the word for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter(@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Democracy Initiative: Ending DACA is an Assault on American Values

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Democracy Initiative: Ending DACA is an Assault on American Values

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

September 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - The Democracy Initiative (DI) calls the president’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program heartless and expresses deep concern for the lives of young people who have contributed to our economy and our country. The lack of compassion is in stark contrast to the core values of a nation built by immigrants and native people. Republicans and Democrats have supported DACA and recognizes the value its recipients bring to all of America. This is not the shining vision of democracy that unites Americans. The DI affirms the need for everyday people to come together to build a grassroots democracy movement to win, and make leadership changes.

“As a child of immigrants, I am appalled that this administration is turning their backs on young people,” said Wendy Fields executive director of the Democracy Initiative. “POTUS has fueled hate and animosity towards immigrants despite their many contributions to our economy – often in low-wage jobs. DACA recipients are part of America – they are consumers, students, service men and women, teachers, nurses, and many of the hardworking people that go unrecognized on a daily basis. Ending DACA is yet another example of the continued assault on everyday people seeking to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Since the program began, nearly 1 million young people have been granted temporary relief from deportation. DACA recipients have been able to move out of the shadows to work openly, go to school, pay taxes, and contribute to the country they call home. Ending DACA tears young people away from their families and communities, and hurts our economy.

The Democracy Initiative notes that from the start of his campaign, the president has demonized immigrants in this country. Similar to his inability to denounce hate and discrimination, this action shows that the administration is bending to the will of monied interests, hate and bigotry instead of embracing American principles of freedom and respect.

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 60 organizations representing 30 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

PRESS RELEASE: POTUS & Elected Leaders Priorities Are Not Focused on Everyday People

Monday, August 28, 2017

Statement on the 54th Anniversary of March on Washington

POTUS & Elected Leaders Priorities Are Not Focused on Everyday People

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

As today marks the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Democracy Initiative (DI) expresses our deep disappointment with the current Administration's continued support and advancement of hate, discrimination, enrichment of corporations and large campaign donors at a time when “kitchen table” policies are in need of being addressed for millions of hardworking families. Once again the Trump Administration has shown it's true colors by pardoning disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio, lifting the ban on militarized police gear, putting the life and safety of millions of young immigrants at risk, and pursuing a discriminatory military ban on transgendered personnel – all in the face of yet another natural disaster at a time when the administration rolls back climate protections. 

These actions are clear steps to make good on his campaign commitment to “Make America Great Again,” which erodes any progress towards an inclusive, economically equitable American democracy that works for everyone. The Democracy Initiative opposes any and all attempts to shrink the power, rights, and voices of everyday people and this Administration’s continued defense of the indefensible.

“Let's be clear, these actions are not about bringing this country together,” said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “POTUS illustrates that his priorities are not focused on the kitchen table issues that matter to everyone but rather on the corporate and political interests of a few.” Fields noted that the DI, a coalition of 60 organizations representing 30 million members nationwide, has been at the forefront of advancing pro-democracy reforms, with 10 reform victories in 2016 alone. “We still have a lot of work to do and we must double our efforts to build a powerful, sustainable grassroots movement that holds all elected representatives accountable.”

Leaders of DI partner organizations also expressed their deep concern and outrage over recent actions:

On Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

“President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is a clear and dangerous abuse of power, worthy of censure by Congress. The sheriff took an oath to enforce the law.  He and the president are now united in their contempt for the law and their disregard for their sworn obligations.”
Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause President & Co-Chair of the Democracy Initiative

“Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he stands with the racists who break the law rather than the brave Americans who seek to protect our country. No matter your race, creed, or gender identity, every person deserves equal protection under the law and equal rights. The president should serve as a moral compass for our country, but Donald Trump has proven to be nothing more than a magnet for hate and intolerance.”
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

“After President Trump’s sickeningly inadequate response to the events in Charlottesville, his decision to pardon a man who racially profiled Latinos is deplorable. Not only is Trump supporting an individual who aggressively and unconstitutionally targeted immigrant communities, he is encouraging bigotry and hate among the most extreme members of his base. Trump is also flagrantly abusing his pardon power to help a political ally, making it clear that he is much more concerned with protecting his allies than the communities of color they hurt. Yet again, Trump has proven he is willing to condone racism with this intentional message to extremists that they have a supporter in the White House”
Lizet Ocampo, People For the American Way Political Director

“Providing a presidential pardon should be reserved, solely for individuals who have shown remorse for their crimes.  Joe Arpaio has neither exhibited remorse nor repentance for the cruel treatment and racial profiling of Latinos. When connected with President Trump’s refusal to condemn neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, while embracing policies that remove civil rights protections against police brutality; pardoning Arpaio would unfortunately send a familiar yet dangerous message to communities of color.”
Derrick Johnson, NAACP interim President and CEO

"There is no valid reason for this pardon. Sheriff Arpaio supported Trump's campaign, and the President clearly agrees with Arpaio's racist ideology. Using the pardon power to reward convicted criminals based on their political support is a corrupt abuse of power."
Rocio Sáenz, SEIU International Executive Vice President

“It is hard to imagine anyone less worthy of a pardon or of mercy of any kind than Joe Arpaio. He repeatedly flouted the law by engaging in the highly publicized and self-serving harassment and abuse of millions of his constituents at the expense of actual law enforcement and public safety. He thumbed his nose at the Department of Justice, the court system and every other legal attempt to get him to cease and desist his unconstitutional racial profiling of citizens and noncitizens alike. He has yet to serve a day in jail or pay any other legal price for his crimes. And he has demonstrated not one ounce of remorse or repentance, or made any amends to the people he terrorized for more than a decade.”
Janet Murguía, UnidosUS President and CEO

On Transgender Military Ban

“The US military represents one of the few ways for low income and disenfranchised people, including trans people and people of color, to gain career skills and financial security both now and in the future. No one should be forced to choose between who they are and being able to keep their career.”
Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, LGBTQ Task Force, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director

“Defending our nation’s freedoms on the front lines is one of the highest callings imaginable. The mere idea that President Trump will seek to deny any American the ability to fulfill that calling – simply because of their gender identity – is not only despicable, but also a deeply ironic violation of those very freedoms our military seeks to protect.”
Derrick Johnson, NAACP Interim President & CEO

On Militarized Equipment for Police Departments

“It is both exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible for the Administration to lift the ban on the transfer of certain surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement organizations. Just a few summers ago, our nation watched as Ferguson raised the specter of increased police militarization. The law enforcement response there and in too many places across the country demonstrated how perilous, especially for Black and Brown communities, a militarized police force can be. The President’s decision to make this change in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and against a backdrop of frayed relations between police and communities of color further reflects this administration’s now open effort to escalate racial tensions in our country. This action puts more fire power in the hands of police departments that remain largely untrained on matters of racial bias and endangers the public. Inviting the use of military weaponry against our domestic population is nothing short of recasting the public as an enemy.”
Janai Nelson, NAACP Legal Defense Fund Associate Director-Counsel

 

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

 

Hate Has No Place in Our Democracy

A Statement on Charlottesville from the Board of Directors for the Democracy Initiative
Monday, August 14, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

August 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democracy Initiative condemns the bigotry and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and we mourn the tragic loss of Heather Heyer’s life standing up to racism. Our coalition of 60 groups --representing 30 million members nationwide -- is united in holding all elected leaders accountable for their role in fueling hate. Hate has no place in our democracy.

Charlottesville is symbolic of the rise of hate too frequent in the history of the United States. The Trump Administration has done little to confront right wing violence and bigotry. It is time for the Department of Justice to aggressively investigate and combat the increasing number of white nationalist groups that are committing hate crimes across the country.

“The failure of this administration to name white supremacists for who they are -- domestic terrorists and un-American -- is glaring,” said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “It begs the question: Mr. President, what do you have to lose by not speaking out? For everyday Americans, this Administration's tepid response is deadly, not just in Charlottesville but in the countless acts of hate across the country.”

The rise of white supremacy and violence against religious and racial minorities did not begin in 2017. Domestic terrorism has been (and continues to be) the lived experience of millions of people in America. We’ve seen African Americans killed inside of churches. We’ve seen Muslims killed on their way home from their mosque. We’ve seen synagogues desecrated and burned to the ground. And we hear white nationalists shout “go home” and “take back our country” while ignoring America’s history of stolen land and genocide.

We can no longer be silent about the impact of systemic racism on our democracy. When elected leaders pass racially-motivated laws to shrink the power of the electorate, it is a form of state-sponsored discrimination. When Attorney General Sessions limits the ability of the Civil Rights Division to stop clear violations of the Voting Rights Act, we no longer have a government that is fighting for everyday people. And when President Trump (as a candidate and in the White House) uses coded language and divisive rhetoric designed to appeal to racist nationalists, he is fueling hate groups.

While the speech of white supremacists may be protected by the First Amendment, their values and actions stand in stark contrast to a nation of immigrants, refugees, native people, religious minorities, and people who fought for their freedom from slavery. We can no longer ignore the voices of millions of people who have been simply fighting for the right to exist and the ability to participate freely in our democracy. We urge the Department of Justice to take swift action to address right wing extremism throughout the United States.

The Democracy Initiative remains committed to building a vibrant democracy and mobilizing millions of members across the country to hold leaders accountable at every level.

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

Statement on 100th Anniversary of Silent Protest Parade

Friday, July 28, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

July 28, 2017

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Silent Protest Parade in New York City led by the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights groups.  In 1917, nearly ten thousand men, women, and children marched silently down 5th Avenue to the muffled sounds of drums to highlight the violent discrimination against African Americans happening across the United States.

The following is a statement on the anniversary by Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of 59 partner groups representing 30 million members nationwide:

One hundred years ago today, brothers and sisters in the fight for racial equality and justice spoke truth through their silence. When armed white mobs terrorized African American neighborhoods – in some cases reducing them to ashes – these brave men, women, and children showed the hypocrisy of people who promote democracy with one hand while shutting out participation by racial minorities with the other.

This day is a reminder that the fight for full participation in the United States is not over. As POTUS uses the voter commission to shrink the power of the American people by attempting to purge millions of eligible voters, we stand united to advance a vision of democracy where all eligible voters are registered and all votes are counted.

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

A Statement on the Appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Statement on the Appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Democracy Initiative (DI), a coalition of 58 organizations representing 30 million members nationwide, is encouraged by the appointment of a special counsel but stresses the need for an independent commission to fully investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. The coalition’s co-chairs, Karen Hobert Flynn and Annie Leonard, issued the following statement:

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel is a crucial first step toward uncovering the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The American people have voiced their growing and continued concern with Russian hacking and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Our collective voices show the strength of a democracy that is of, by, and for the people and reinforces the need for continued vigilance in creating a reflective and responsive government.

While the appointment of a special counsel is a necessary first step on the path to justice, Mr. Mueller’s mission primarily focuses on criminal wrongdoing in relation to the 2016 election. In addition, the special counsel may not have full independence, as Mr. Mueller will report to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and could be fired under the president’s direction. We need to establish an independent commission to investigate this case thoroughly without fear of disruption or intimidation. An independent commission will complement Mr. Mueller’s work and thoroughly uncover how we can better protect our election system and democracy as a whole from future interference.

The integrity of our election system is directly connected to our ability to advance reforms that protect our environment, ensure our civil liberties, and expand opportunities for all workers. Americans have a right to know the full extent of Russia’s interference in our election, which can only be reached with an independent commission.

 

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 58 partner organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

David Sanchez Joins the Democracy Initiative in Key Outreach Role

Coalition Expands Staff and Mobilization Effort
Friday, May 12, 2017

David Sanchez Joins the Democracy Initiative in Key Outreach Role

Coalition Expands Staff and Mobilization Efforts

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

May 12, 2017

The Democracy Initiative (DI) is pleased to welcome David Sanchez as the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator. The DI is a coalition of 58 partner organizations working to build a truly multiracial, intersectional democracy movement. David will focus on growing our grassroots base through collaborations with partner groups to engage and mobilize their members in reform campaigns. Mr. Sanchez will also facilitate new opportunities for underrepresented communities to engage on reform and expand the coalition’s reach and impact.

David brings over seven years of campaign experience to the DI. Most recently he worked as the DMV Coordinator for the People's Climate Movement (PCM), where he helped organize and bring more than 200,000 people to the streets of Washington, DC. Prior to his work with PCM, David worked across several southwestern states in a senior leadership capacity for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. In addition to his work experience, David earned his Masters in Public Administration from DePaul University, where he researched Latino voting trends in the southwest side of Chicago.  

"I am excited to join the Democracy Initiative to help preserve voting rights and fight big money in politics,” said David. “I want to ensure that people come before profit, and make sure our elected officials are held accountable to the people they represent."

The addition of Mr. Sanchez is part of a newly refined strategy for the Democracy Initiative to effectively mobilize and train members within partner organizations to lead the democracy movement. Earlier this month the Board of Directors announced changes in leadership roles and restructured the Coordinating Committee to become the Mobilizing Committee.

Sanchez will work very closely with the Mobilizing Committee and build relationships with new allies and partners.

“I’m excited to have David on our team,” said Wendy Fields, Executive Director for the Democracy Initiative. “He is among the young cadre of leaders that are the future of the democracy movement. David will allow us to effectively coordinate both financial resources and consistent engagement to build our grassroots power and capacity building in the field.”

David started on Monday, May 8.

The Democracy Initiative also hired Elana Orbuch as the Program Assistant and Office Manager. Elana has been serving as an interim administrative staff person and organized our member groups around the People’s Climate March. Elana brings a wealth of campaign experience after being a Field Organizer on the Hillary Clinton campaign in Western Ohio. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and International Studies. Elana joins the staff full-time and will provide technical support for coalition field meetings and social media, as well as administrative support.

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

 

President's Election Commission is Inadequate to Address 2016 Election Threats

The Commission is "Not a Good Use of Time" Without a Focus on Russian Interference, Voter Suppression
Thursday, May 11, 2017

President's Election Commission is Inadequate to Address 2016 Election Threats

The Commission is "Not a Good Use of Time" Without a Focus on Russian Interference, Voter Suppression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

May 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Democracy Initiative (DI), a coalition of 58 organizations representing 30 million members nationwide, finds the focus and leadership of the President’s “Election Integrity Commission” wholly inadequate in the face of real, credible foreign interference in our 2016 election. The coalition’s executive director, Wendy Fields, issued the following statement:

“The Election Integrity Commission is not a good use of time and resources if it does not focus on the true threats to our democracy. As the Brennan Center for Justice (a DI partner organization) notes, study after study has shown that large-scale voter fraud is nonexistent. Without any evidence POTUS has claimed that 3 million people voted illegally in 2016 in an attempt to divert attention from the real and present threat of Russian interference in our election.

What is clear is a pattern of voter suppression under the false claim of voter fraud. The preoccupation with voter fraud has been a convenient excuse for some legislators to introduce and/or pass harmful voter ID and reduced voting options to suppress the vote. Many of the potential members of the commission, including Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have contributed to voter suppression. Indiana's Secretary of State has purged nearly 500,000 people from the voter rolls -- some just for not participating in recent elections. In 2014, Kansas new registration rules championed by Kobach allowed the state to reject 20% of the applicants - a large portion being independents.

This administration’s unwillingness to properly investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election calls into question the real purpose of this commission. How can Americans trust that our elections will not be rigged in the future without an independent commission and special prosecutor to investigate how the Russians interfered and who was involved? We reject this commission's attempt to legitimize acts of voter suppression in the name of election integrity.”

The following are statements from coalition partners on the commission:

The details revealed to date about the ‘election integrity’ commission and its members read like a blueprint for trying to justify voter suppression. It is insulting that the new commission is headed by two champions of voter suppression – Mike Pence and Kris Kobach. It is hard to believe that any “findings” of this commission headed by those individuals will do anything but condone and seek to justify voter suppression efforts.
Karen Hobert Flynn, President Common Cause and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative

We must see this commission for what it is: an attempt to lend credence and legitimacy to the repeatedly disproved lie that pervasive voter fraud exists in this country – a lie designed to intimidate and ultimately prevent African American and Latino voters from fully exercising their constitutional right to participate in our democracy. All Americans, regardless of ideology or political affiliation, should be deeply disturbed to see the White House lend its prestige and power to the undermining of our political process.
Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF)

Every credible study of voting practices confirm, time and again, that our system is sound. What is a problem is that opponents of voting rights are attacking our voting process. Instead of pushing for free, fair elections, they are deliberately attempting to make it harder to vote – especially for communities of color. These efforts harken back to some of the ugliest periods in our history, when people of color, especially Black people, had to fight our way to the ballot with our own bodies and our very lives. The real fraud is the attempt by opponents of voting rights – following this administration’s model – seeking to kill the right to vote.
Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project’s National Office

Donald Trump has lied about Mike Flynn. He’s lied about the crowds at his inauguration. He’s lied about wiretaps on Trump Tower. And now he’s continuing to push his lies about widespread voter fraud. [...] The Trump administration’s claims about voter fraud have exactly the same credibility as his other debunked conspiracy theories: none whatsoever. Everything about this new commission should be judged in that light.
Diallo Brooks, Director of Outreach and Public Engagement at People For the American Way

“No one should be confused by what this executive order is: an assault on the right to vote built on non-existent evidence. Donald Trump has no interest in protecting our democracy, he’s only interested in destroying it for his and his corporate polluting friends personal gain. Clearly not satisfied with firing the person overseeing the investigation into his connections with Russia, Trump is expanding his attack on democracy with this waste of taxpayer’s money. The fact is that millions of Americans are having their right to vote suppressed, and this executive order puts our country on a path to continue that frightening trend. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people -- not Donald Trump, which is exactly why we will continue to grow our movement to protect our democracy.” 

Mike Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club            

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

Statement on Senate Judiciary Vote to Confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org
202-567-6103

Democracy Coalition on Gorsuch: 
No Protections for Everyday Americans​

April 5, 2017

WASHINGTON—The Democracy Initiative, a 58-member coalition representing 30 million members nationwide, strongly calls for the Senate to reject Neil Gorsuch. The basic principles of American democracy are under attack. Putting Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court would be a threat to the safety, health, and voices of everyday Americans. The gravity of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court requires a nominee who would represent the people not corporate interests that pollute our planet, our politics, and our democracy.

Last month, over 120 groups raised serious concerns to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Judge Gorsuch's court opinions that have weakened protections for people in their workplace and communities. The party line vote to advance Gorsuch out of the Senate Judiciary Committee shows that he has not earned bipartisan support for his nomination. Gorsuch has failed to answer basic questions and his past rulings have attempted to rollback basic protections for workers, students, and women.

Below are statements from coalition partners regarding the nomination of Neil Gorsuch:

“Judge Gorsuch’s lower court decisions suggest he would undermine civil liberties, reduces worker’s rights, and roll back environmental protections.”  
Wendy Fields, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative

“There’s no place for a judge who consistently slams the courthouse doors shut on Americans and citizens groups while flinging them open for corporate polluters and who has a judicial history of ruling against workers’ rights, human rights, civil rights, and the right to clean air and water on the Supreme Court.” 
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

"The next Supreme Court justice will have a pivotal role in ensuring our Constitution protects the rights and voices of all Americans. Judge Gorsuch has the potential to be the deciding vote to destroy the few remaining safeguards against big money dominating our politics completely. Gorsuch’s record and his refusal to answer critical questions during his hearing require the Senate to reject his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.” 
Heather C. McGhee, President, Demos

“CWA members, like millions of working people, face health and safety threats on the job every day. Judge Gorsuch seems to object to the administrative role of government in ensuring safe workplaces or carrying out other critical responsibilities of government to defend ordinary Americans. Working people should not be subject to the broad assault on worker protections that Judge Gorsuch seems to advocate.” 
Chris Shelton, President, Communications Workers of America (CWA)

“Gorsuch’s alarming affection for voter suppression, unrestricted campaign spending, and nondisclosure suggest a vision of the United States where working people no longer have a say in their government.” 
Rachel Butler, U.S. Democracy Campaigner, Greenpeace

"The right to vote is too important and we must understand whether Judge Gorsuch is committed to interpreting and preserving what remains of the Voting Rights Act." 
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“Neil Gorsuch has a troubling record of siding with the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else. If he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch will give big donors more power in our elections and make it harder for everyday people to be heard. The Senate should oppose his confirmation and stand with the majority of Americans who believe the constitution protects all of us, not just those able to write big checks.”
David Donnelly, President and CEO, Every Voice

“Today’s news that Neil Gorsuch has failed to earn enough support to meet the 60-vote bar for Supreme Court justices represents an important rejection of the ideology and extremism that Gorsuch would bring to the bench. Unlike Merrick Garland, who was denied the courtesy of even a hearing last year, Judge Gorsuch has received the full and fair consideration of the Senate. He has been evaluated according to his own merits, and by those merits he has been found to be unacceptable.” 
Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way (PFAW)

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