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December 14, 2006

Details of the anti-DownsizeDC bill

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .

We never know how much to tell you about the Congressional legislation we support or oppose. The details can be mind-numbing.

This especially concerned us about yesterday’s message. The claims we made sounded so alarmist, so wild — like some urban myth about albino alligators in the sewers. But . . .

What we told you is true. Nancy Pelosi really is promoting legislation that would limit small grassroots organizations like us, but leave big special interest lobbying firms exempt.

The bill is HR 4682. It’s called the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006.” It was co-written by the new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group called “Public Citizen” (founded by Ralph Nader). The bill is 80 pages long. You can look at it by going to and typing in the bill number.

This legislation will be reintroduced in the new Congress as Speaker Pelosi’s big ethics reform package. We’re still evaluating this complex bill. At first glance, it looks like it isn’t ALL bad, but the devil is in the details, and some of those details are VERY BAD, just as we told you yesterday.

For instance . . .

Section 204(b)(2) serves no other purpose than to regulate small grassroots organizations like us, while leaving the direct lobbying of big special interests exempt.

I’m tempted to print this entire section for you so you can see how mind-numbing it is, and how much time and expense we’ll have to expend complying with it. But I don’t want to numb your mind, and make you stop reading, so I’m just going to confine myself to one small paragraph to give you the flavor of it . . .

“(c) Separate Itemization of Paid Efforts to Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying- Section 5(b) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(b)) is amended–
(1) in paragraph (3), by–
(A) inserting after `total amount of all income’ the following: `(including a separate good faith estimate of the total amount relating specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying and, within that amount, a good faith estimate of the total amount specifically relating to paid advertising)’; and
(B) striking `and’ after the semicolon;”

It goes on like this. And on and on.

We work for you, so it’s your time and money that will be wasted by this kind of crap. And what will be accomplished? Will the corrupting influence of Downsize DC on Congress be thereby corrected? Or will the reforming influence of things like the “Read the Bills Act” be thereby blunted?

One of our advisors on this legislation summed it up for me on the phone the other day: This is aimed at small, annoying, non-profits. That’s us. We’re annoying to Congress. “Read the Bills” is annoying to Congress. Annoying Congress is our mission statment, and we’re not going to stop.

That’s right. This isn’t going to stop us. We will endure and prevail in spite of this. But it will make things harder, so it would be better to kill the bad provisions of this bill. Can we do that? Maybe. To begin with . . .

We’ve already been successful once in stopping an earlier version of this sort of thing. It was one of our victories in 2006. Secondly . . .

We’re not alone. Today we sent a letter to “Public Citizen” complaining about the bad provisions of this bill. This letter was co-signed by the following people and organizations . . .

Dick Dingman
Free Speech Coalition, Inc.

Jim Babka, Inc.

Kimberly Bellissimo
BMW Direct, Inc.

Shannon G. Benton
TREA Senior Citizens League

The Honorable Morton Blackwell
Conservative Leadership PAC

James Bopp, Jr.
James Madison Center for Free Speech

David N. Bossie
Citizens United

Michael Centanni
Freedom’s Defense Fund

Mark Chmura
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Larry Cirignano

Kay Daly
Coalition for a Fair Judiciary

Eugene Delgaudio
Public Advocate of the U.S., Inc.

Bill Donohue
The Catholic League

Bruce Eberle
Eberle Associates, Inc.

Mark Fitzgibbons
American Target Advertising, Inc.

William Greene

Colin A. Hanna
Let Freedom Ring, Inc.

Rick Hendrix
Clear Word Communications Group

Brenna Hill
Health Freedom Foundation
and American Association for Health Freedom

Don Irvine
Accuracy in Media

Dr. John J. Karch
Slovak League of America

David Keene
American Conservative Union

Thomas P. Kilgannon
Freedom Alliance

M.E. Lewis
Lewis & Company Marketing Communications, Inc.

James L. Martin
60 Plus Association

Rod D. Martin

Jeffrey Mazzella
The Center for Individual Freedom

Manuel Miranda
Third Branch Conference

Edward I. Nelson
U.S. Border Control

C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Jane Orient, M.D.
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
and American Health Legal Foundation

Ron Pearson
Council for America

Ben Piper

Larry Pratt
Gun Owners of America, Inc.

Maurine Proctor
Family Leader Network

Amy Ridenour
National Center for Public Policy Research

Terrence Scanlon
Capital Research Center

Thomas A. Schatz
Council for Citizens Against
Government Waste

Rev. Louis Sheldon
Traditional Values Coalition

Craig Shirley
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs

Ron Shuping
The Inspiration Networks

J. Michael Smith
Home School Legal Defense Association

Kenneth R. Timmerman
Foundation for Democracy in Iran

Richard A. Viguerie

Paul Weyrich
Free Congress Foundation

Donald E. Wildmon
American Family Association

Jason Wright
Institute for Liberty

Notice that the letter went to “Public Citizen” and not to Congress. Congress is not the only game in town. Congress has private partners, like “Public Citizen,” that are also vulnerable to pressure and persuasion.

The media is also a pressure point, esepcially the media in Ms. Pelosi’s district. We intend to take action where it would be most likely to get the Speaker’s attention, and make her nervous.

This is all part of a bigger strategic picture for Increasingly, we’re going to call on you to contact not just Congress, but also other organizations and the media. Increasinly, we’ll apply pressure on Congress from all directions, whether or not they take steps to regulate us!

They cannot stop us. But we will stop them. The day is coming when the pressure will be so great that they will have to bend to the public will. Congress will have to read the bills, write the laws, and deal with only one subject at a time. Remember . . .

We are taking plays from their playbook.

* We are changing the rules, because Congress has taught us that those who make the rules, rule.
* We are not taking no for an answer, but doing as Congress does, and coming back again and again, until the answer becomes yes.
* Like the government upsizers, if we cannot enter through the door, then we’ll climb in through the window.

We will succeed because we will never relent. We’ll just keep growing and applying more pressure until we force Congress to operate under new rules. What they want to do to us, we will do to them. This is our version of the Golden Rule!

You helped us take a major step forward yesterday. Six Downsizers started new monthly pledges worth $178, bringing our total above the $6,000 goal we set for this month.

This means we’ll start the crucial January month with $6,000 of the $14,000 we need already in hand. This is the path to making the future better and better by making our work easier and easier. This is the path to Operation Everywhere, and achieving universal pressure on Congress.

You can join this rising tide by making a monthly credit card pledge here. If you do so your name will be added to the roster for the coming “One Subject at a Time Act,” unless you prefer to remain anonymous.

We also raised just over $900 in one-time contributions in response to yesterday’s message, leaving the needed balance for December at about $7,000. December is always bad for us, but the better we do now the stronger we’ll be when work begins again in January. You can make a one-time donation here.

Finally, it costs us money to belong to coalitions like the one that sent the letter to “Public Citizen.” The Downsize DC Foundation owes $500 for dues in just such a coalition. If tax deductability is important to you then you could make a contribution to the Foundation to help pay these dues. You can do so here.

We know we’re being relentless with the year-end fundraising, but relentless is what we are. We hope you wouldn’t want it any other way, because that’s what it’s going to take.

Thank you for being a relentless DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
Downsize DC Foundation
&, Inc.

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