Posted on July 12, 2021
How CREDO members helped Free Speech For People fight for our democracy and our elections
Free Speech For People is a national nonpartisan legal advocacy and public education organization at the forefront of the movement to reclaim our democracy for we, the people. We work to ensure all people have an equal voice and an equal vote in our democracy. We advance our mission by challenging big money in politics, fighting for free and fair elections, ending corporate abuse of power, and confronting corruption in government.
Thanks to the votes of CREDO members in December 2020, Free Speech For People was honored to receive a grant totaling $41,925. Your support helped us to achieve critical victories for voters, our elections, and our democracy.
Fighting Back Against the Influence of Foreign Corporate Money in Elections
Following the 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, multinational corporations with significant foreign investment became able to donate unlimited funds to wield influence in our elections and overwhelm the voices and votes of everyday people. To challenge these corporations seeking to overtake our democracy, Free Speech For People developed the first legislation in the country to end foreign-corporate spending in elections.
On June 3, 2021, the New York State Senate passed, with bipartisan support, our model bill, the New York Democracy Preservation Act. The legislation would bar corporations with partial foreign ownership from spending to influence the outcome of New York State elections. A companion bill, A7458, has been introduced in the State Assembly by Assembly member Latrice Walker of Brooklyn. We are also helping to advance similar legislation in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oregon.
Protecting the Right to Vote and Our Elections through Legal Action
Free Speech For People works to challenge voter suppression, the use of unreliable and insecure voting systems, and unequal voting conditions. This year we achieved a major victory for democracy with a case in Minnesota. In October 2020, we filed a federal lawsuit against a private mercenary contractor, Atlas Aegis, and its chairman for voter intimidation in Minnesota. The company planned to hire and deploy armed ex-soldiers to polling sites in the state for the November 2020 general election. In response to our complaint, we were granted a motion for a preliminary injunction prohibiting Atlas Aegis from moving forward with their illegal voter intimidation plans.
In February 2021, the court approved a consent decree and a landmark settlement, active through January 1, 2025, which directs that Atlas Aegis and its chairman are prohibited from engaging in voter intimidation activities, including attempts to threaten and coerce voters and election workers, in the state. We are using this case as a model to introduce and move forward legislation across the country to challenge voter intimidation efforts, which primarily target underrepresented communities.
Challenging Corruption at the Highest Levels of Government:
Free Speech For People co-founded the national movement calling for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, due to repeated and ongoing abuses of power, while in office. We continue to serve as a leading force in the effort to hold former President Donald Trump accountable to the law. We led in issuing, with a coalition of national organizations, a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to create an independent task force in the Department of Justice to investigate potential crimes committed by Trump and his associates.
In support of this effort, we launched the new coalition, Hold Trump Accountable, with national organizational partners. Over 200,000 people across the country have joined our call on the Department of Justice to establish this task force to investigate Trump and his associates and to ensure that they are held accountable for any and all violations of federal law.
Holding Social Media Giants Accountable
Since our founding in 2010, we have helped to lead the challenge against unchecked corporate power and the threat it poses to our democracy. Now, we are leading a bold new fight to challenge the dangerous impact of disinformation and the amplification of violence on social media platforms.
The insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 was preceded by the spread of false information and threats of violence online, including the oft-repeated lie, by former President Trump and others, that the election was stolen. This lie was subsequently amplified by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and 4chan. This has created a grave threat to our democracy and our people. In the face of this threat, our elected officials have failed to take any meaningful action.
Free Speech For People has introduced and is advancing the Digital Accountability Act, our model bill which would hold social media companies accountable for amplifying disinformation and violence via their online platforms.
Thank you to CREDO members for your support, which has made this work possible. To join the movement to reclaim our democracy, please visit our website, www.freespeechforpeople.org.