Who Owns Guns In Congress

Posted in politics on February 16th, 2013 by sysadmin

Who Owns Guns In Congress

By Paul Singer and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY,

Republicans in Congress are much better armed than their Democratic counterparts — a fact that helps explain the deep partisan divide as Congress gears up for its first major votes on gun control in a decade.

One hundred nineteen Republicans and 46 Democrats declared themselves as gun owners in a USA TODAY survey of lawmakers.

There is no uniform public record of gun ownership by members of Congress, and it is not part of the information lawmakers are required to reveal in their annual financial disclosure forms. So USA TODAY and the Gannett Washington Bureau contacted every congressional office to ask: Does the lawmaker own a gun?

The results show a partisan — and regional — divide. Only 10% of Republicans who responded said they do not own a gun, while 66% of Democrats said they are not gun owners.

Michael Hammond, legislative counsel of Gun Owners of America, said he’s not surprised. In Republican districts, a gun “is a campaign accoutrement,” he said.

Plotted on a map, the survey results speak to the cultural chasm between those districts where guns are a talisman of individualism and those where guns are viewed more as a criminal tool. Only 12 lawmakers from the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, said they own firearms, while 77 Southerners said they do.

Congress’ gun gap suggests that cultural factors are at least as important as the influence of the gun lobby in determining where members stand on President Obama’s package of gun control proposals.


Some members were more than willing to give an inventory of their gun lockers. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., owns three shotguns, three rifles and two pistols, press secretary Sara Lasure said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, owns a dozen, but her favorite is a 20-gauge Ruger, communications director Matthew Felling said.

Others — overwhelmingly Southern Republicans — declined to answer, even suggesting it was “irresponsible” for reporters to ask the question.

Again there is a partisan split: 36 Republicans in the House refused to say whether they own guns; 11 Democrats refused to say. Across both the House and Senate, an additional 161 lawmakers did not return repeated phone calls, e-mails and requests for comment — 97 of those were Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he owns guns, though he wouldn’t say what kind. His Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, declined to say whether he does. In the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she does not own a gun, and Speaker John Boehner’s office did not respond to multiple requests.

The White House has released photos of President Obama shooting skeet but asked by reporters Monday whether Obama owns a gun, spokesman Jay Carney said “not that I am aware of.”

Obama is pushing Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, expand background checks for gun purchases and adopt other measures aimed at curbing gun violence. Any new gun legislation in Congress would have to pass through the Judiciary Committee in each chamber. Eight of 23 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee confirmed they are gun owners, but only one of the panel’s 17 Democrats admitted having a gun — Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

On the Senate committee — which is drafting gun legislation — Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island were the only two Democrats who said they own firearms, while six of the eight Republicans on the committee said they do.

Gun ownership is clearly correlated with members’ political positions. Over the past two years, the National Rifle Association’s political action committee gave 10 times more contributions to House members who own guns than to those who don’t, according to an analysis of campaign finance reports filed last week. And members who owned guns were eight times more likely to get an “A” rating from the NRA than those who did not.


For some members, their gun ownership is a point of pride. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., provided a list of weapons he owns, and his spokeswoman followed up a few days later to note the congressman had also just bought “a third-generation Glock G27″ handgun.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who famously used a rifle to shoot a copy of an environmental bill in a 2010 campaign ad, seemed surprised by the question about his gun ownership, pointing out that he is from West Virginia. “Why would anybody not own a gun?” he asked.

At least a dozen members spoke of heirloom weapons, inherited from fathers, grandfathers and mothers, that are as much a part of the family as their name.

Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., in a television ad, proudly brandishes the Smith & Wesson his grandfather used to stop a lynching — but his office did not return phone calls to confirm his gun ownership. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., keeps a pistol and two rifles as mementos of his late father.

Asked about his gun ownership, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, tells of his great-grandfather, a Swiss immigrant who, at age 80, “went out into a duck blind on a frozen lake and he never came back.

“And they went out to find him at the end of the day, and he had died of a heart attack in the duck blind with his gun over his lap and with a smile on his face, which is part of the Portman family lore because he loved to hunt,” Portman said. “I have that gun. And my kids have shot that gun, so it’s a tradition in our family.”

Portman said he’s mostly concerned about the views of his constituents on gun rights — but said he couldn’t deny that his own experience influences his votes.

For others, the question itself was an intrusion.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said, “Given the security concerns for members of Congress and their families after the shooting of (former Arizona congresswoman) Gabrielle Giffords, it is irresponsible for members of the media to publish how members and their families protect themselves in public and at home.”

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., through spokeswoman Sarah Wolf, provided a more succinct response: “None of your damn business.”

Some lawmakers declined to respond to the survey even though they have already made public statements declaring themselves to be gun owners. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., would not respond to the survey, but his website says, “I am a gun owner and avid hunter, and have consistently fought to protect the right to keep and bear arms.”

Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican who appears to be the only licensed gun dealer in the House, also declined to respond. Graves holds an active license for the Rockin H Gun Shop, which apparently has been in his family for some time, though there is no longer a shop affiliated with the name.

Hammond, the gun owner’s group lobbyist, said he was surprised by the number of lawmakers who declined to talk about their guns. It suggests “they feel that gun ownership is more sensitive than some of the other things they have to reveal,” he said.

Members are allowed a few secrets. Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer, who previously served as chief of the Capitol Police, said lawmakers are “permitted to have guns in their offices” and would not have to tell anybody they had a gun.

“We discourage them,” he said. “I personally don’t know of any member who is packing,” he said.

In the public hallways of the Capitol, a lawmaker can carry a weapon only if it is “unloaded and securely wrapped,” Gainer said.

Outside the Capitol, members are governed by the gun laws of their states. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., “travels with firearms while on official business in (his) district,” press secretary Doug Coutts said.


The responses suggest that gun ownership among lawmakers is on par with gun ownership nationwide.

In a December 2012 USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 43% of respondents said they have a gun at home. In USA TODAY’s lawmakers survey, 43% who responded said they owned guns.

Hammond argued that gun ownership does not determine a lawmakers’ vote on gun control. More likely, he said, the culture of the district they represent shapes their view of gun control and their decision to own a gun.

“Lots of Democrats live in urban areas like Chicago and New York where guns are all but banned,” said Hammond, whose Gun Owners of America bills itself as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”

Those lawmakers “don’t have a lot of constituents who place a high value on the Second Amendment,” and also “don’t have the personal experiences with guns that would lead them to see them as anything other than a dangerous nasty object,” Hammond said.

Some gun owners in Congress support gun control. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from a Minnesota district where four people were killed in a sign-shop shooting last fall, said, “I am a gun owner, and I believe in common-sense gun safety rules. Sensible gun violence prevention will help our communities to avoid devastating tragedies. We must work together to prevent gun violence.”

But gun-control advocates say the USA TODAY survey shows how difficult it is for Republicans to endorse gun measures or to even publicly declare that they don’t own guns. “This has become a political totem — a badge of honor for many politicians,” said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Gun ownership and the Second Amendment have become “a symbol of a political identity: a rugged individualist who is willing to lay down the law when the government oversteps its bounds,” with an emphasis on small government and personal freedom, Everitt said.

For Republicans in conservative, rural districts, he said, “the reality of whether they own a gun may be butting up against the image they want to project.”





Members of Congress who say they own a gun

(c) Copyright 2013 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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Christians and the Lions

Posted in Democrats, God, Government, Historical Important Documents, Politics, Republican, Speech, Spiritual on December 14th, 2012 by sysadmin

The current climate against religious speech needs to change.

The “less than religious left” (including politicians that say the are religious so  that they are socially acceptable into advantageous circles of power, the politicians that want to say their Catholic so they can appear for the next photo-op and any other politicians that don’t want to live by the rules of their religious order they entered into by agreeing to the doctrine of that church).

After all, being a member of a church or religion is a contract between you and the God of that church saying you agree with that religious order and their teachings. Period. There are no exceptions for “choice”. religion isn’t something like a political party where you try to change it from the inside once you’ve arrived. The rules are in some sort of manuscript.

Christians NEED to tell the court system that the things Christians say, Christians display and Christians do ARE political speech.

Christmas displays ARE political speech and as such do belong on government property.

Christmas Day is political honor just as much as Martin Luther King Day is.

Do you see a single Muslim saying they agree with only 98% of the Koran?

Do you see a single Muslim saying their God not be honored?

I’d be interested in your comments especially if your religious (notice I didn’t say Christian).

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I Just Had To Ask 1 More Time…

Posted in politics on December 16th, 2009 by sysadmin

In my mind, I was going through the Medical Crisis one more time. You know the one that you keep asking yourself why?

While your doing that and you are a black American could you please, please tell me why you stay with the Democrats? There is an old saying and it kinda goes like this: If you do something the same way 99 times… Why do we expect a different out come the 100th time?

Well, more Republicans voted for the civil rights act way back then…

Getting back to the joke… Black American’s, you’ve voted Democrat for 40 years. That’s 40 years! Are you any ahead of where you were 40 years ago? Now, I don’t like the Republicans either but, if I’ve done something 1 way for a long time and I didn’t get the result I wanted, I’d try something different! Anything!

Put your ear to the ground and what do you here? I hear people coming from Mexico… Your about to be overtaken in numbers when the census is taken… The Latino’s are about to be the biggest minority. NOT Back Americans. I would especially do something different now because your about to become meaningless.

Think about it and get back to me (CanonCameraGuy@RoadKillPhotos.com)

Merry Christmas!

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Stop Eating Out At Restaurants?

Posted in politics on February 17th, 2009 by sysadmin

I was listening to Rush. This guy calls in. He said he was watching Oprah who had Suze Orman on. They recommend to get through the supposed current crisis.

They recommended that everyone not go to restaurant once a month… I was curious

  • Did they recommend not using their car for a month?
  • Did they recommend not using the cell phones for a month?
  • Did they recommend not using electricity for a month?
  • etc.

Why restaurants?

I know! Its a family values thing. They don’t want family’s to all sit around a table, at the same time, eating the same food talking to each other.

Say what you want about politics… The way to get what you want politically is to split family’s, have them argue politics move out, etc. It worked for welfare!

I can tell you the exact time when we were at our best! It is when the Republicans voted segregation out. Everyone was equal…

I can tell you the exact time when we were at our worst! It is when the Democrats voted in welfare and required fathers to not live with families in order to get “Aid To Dependent Children”.

I believe that the way welfare implemented is the cause of where we are today with society’s ills. Such as; gangs, children without dads, moms that turn to drugs and prostitution. High dropout rates in high school, high crime (where blacks supposedly has a disproportionate rate of people in prisons. Where I need to say that “If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime! “. We could have a situation where Blacks do a disproportionate rate of crime. Its like shooting fish in a barrel.

And you do not have to eat the most expensive restaurant in the area. Use commonsense. Anyway, eating at a restaurant is not the same as going to Disneyland or going on a vacation or buying a new diamond ring/watch or a new car.

Eating at a restaurant can raise your self esteem of all those that go. The restaurant money stays in the community.

What do you think?

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1400 kids are killed in school

Posted in politics on October 24th, 2007 by sysadmin
  1. You won’t believe this because its from a blog website.
    (Do Believe It)
  2. Surely the blogger doesn’t mean MY child…
    (I Do Mean Your Child)
  3. MY Child is A great kid! MY Child Gets straight “A”s
  4. (Do you know what your child is doing in ALL their spare/Social Time?)
  5. MY Child drinks ONLY in MY presence
    (you tell yourself…)
  6. This article is sensationalism and only meant to sell more widgets
    (you tell yourself…)

Every year more and more of our children are killed in the places we think of as being safe. Our schools. Here is the website for the story
Click Here

Study: College drinking in 1,400 deaths

Drinking cited in 70,000 cases of sexual assault

College drinking in 1,400 deaths

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WASHINGTON (AP) — An estimated 1,400 college students are killed every year in alcohol-related accidents, according to a study released Tuesday — a study that researchers call the most comprehensive look ever at the consequences of student drinking.

The researchers say the figures show that college drinking needs to seen as a major health concern.

“Historically, I think there has been the view that whatever college students are doing, it’s not that serious a problem, it’s a rite of passage,” said Kenneth J. Sher, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The study by the federally supported Task Force on College Drinking estimated that drinking by college students contributes to 500,000 injuries and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape. Also, 400,000 students between 18 and 24 years old reported having had unprotected sex as a result of drinking.

Drinking cited in 70,000 cases of sexual assault The study does not say whether the problems are increasing or decreasing. A Harvard School of Public Health survey released last month reported that more students are abstaining from alcohol, but levels of binge drinking — having at least four or five drinks at a sitting — are the same as in the early 1990s.

The new report is one of 24 studies commissioned by the task force of college presidents, scientists and students convened by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The institute is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Most of the papers will be published in the forthcoming March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.

Researchers integrated various databases and survey results to reach their findings.

Fatalities: Cars, falls, drownings

Motor vehicle fatalities were the most common form of alcohol-related deaths. The statistics included college students killed in car accidents if the students had alcohol in their blood, even if the level was below the legal limit.

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This Rush Limbaugh Thing AND! #2

Posted in politics on October 3rd, 2007 by sysadmin

Let me start again about Rush and what he said on the radio. The Democrats ARE making a mountain out of a mole hill. They don’t want the light of politics on the 24/7 and the horrible mistakes their making with the Iraq War annd making it a political hot potato.

Just to catch your attention one more time… Here is an article that ran in the Wall Street Journal on August 19, 2006:

(Quote)Past Featured Article


Vietnam Lies
Democrats would do better to focus on the future.

Thursday, August 19, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

We wish this Presidential election had nothing at all to do with Vietnam. There were good people who served and good people who didn’t, good people who supported the war and good people who protested it. What happened really shouldn’t be an issue more than 30 years later unless you lie about it. So why do the Democrats keep bringing Vietnam up, and to their own detriment?

John Kerry, for starters, has made his four-month service in that country the centerpiece of his campaign. But just last week his staff was forced to admit the Senator had been inaccurate, to put it charitably, when he claimed on multiple occasions to have spent Christmas Eve of 1968 in Cambodia while (he also said) the U.S. government was lying about his presence there.

Now comes Tom Harkin. On Monday the Iowa Senator lashed out at Dick Cheney, claiming the Vice President had no right to criticize Mr. Kerry’s policies for the war on terror because Mr. Cheney had a deferment back then: “When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil.”

“Coward”? Such a comment would take chutzpah coming from anyone. But Senator Harkin is a proven fabricator when it comes to his own Vietnam-era record, as shown during his own failed 1992 Presidential bid. Consider this excerpt from a Wall Street Journal news story by James M. Perry from December 26, 1991:

“In 1979, Mr. Harkin, then a congressman, participated in a round-table discussion arranged by the Congressional Vietnam Veterans’ Caucus. ‘I spent five years as a Navy pilot, starting in November of 1962,’ Mr. Harkin said at that meeting, in words that were later quoted in a book, Changing of the Guard, by Washington Post political writer David Broder. ‘One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions. I did no bombing.’

“That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. . . . Mr. Harkin’s Navy record shows his only decoration is the National Defense Service Medal, awarded to everyone on active service during those years. He did not receive either the Vietnam Service medal or the Vietnam Campaign medal, the decorations given to everyone who served in the Southeast Asia theater.”

It turned out Mr. Harkin had not seen combat and was stationed in Japan. What’s more, Mr. Cheney isn’t the first Vice President to fall victim to Mr. Harkin’s acid tongue. In an editorial in 1988, we quoted “Senator Tom Harkin who served in Vietnam” (we thought at the time) saying of his Senate colleague Dan Quayle, who did not serve in Vietnam: “It’s so ironic; they get in Congress or the government and become big hawks. Don’t they have any shame at all?” Mr. Quayle, to refresh memories, spent late August of 1988 taking flak–as George W. Bush also since has–for having served in the National Guard, which was deemed by Harkin Democrats as somehow less courageous than either service in Vietnam or outright draft avoidance. One would think that the post-1991 Tom Harkin would know better by now than to assail anyone else’s Vietnam record. As for our media colleagues, is it too much to ask that they finally take notice of which party is responsible for keeping Vietnam front and center in our Presidential campaigns? (UnQuote)

The looney left throwing rocks when they live in glass houses AND doing all the things they scream the loudest about when brought up Such As: Being a patriot, such as not bringing up someone’s health issues. Right now, the looney left in the house and senate can’t passs any meaninful bills just the bills that are entitled the consciouses of the Senate/House.

Budget Bills haven’t been passed etc.

Lets see what happens tommorrow!

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This Rush Limbaugh Thing AND!

Posted in politics on October 3rd, 2007 by sysadmin

This thing with Rush Limbaugh… But, first let me clear my conscience re: Newt Gingrich….

For months now, Newt has been teasing us about his entering the Presidential Sweepstakes. Last weekend he bowed out basically stating that: the company he starting needs him more than the people of the United States. And because of the political laws that don’t allow him to do both etc… He decided to stay with the fledgling company called American Solutions because it needs him. HEY! NEWT! What about us po’ folk that can’t make a decision like that? We need you too! I and some other people were ready to volunteer in your behalf because we believe, we don’t get another chance for atleast 8 years if we lose this one!Newt said if he was called by a lot of people, that only a selfish person would turn down that much endorsement.

I don’t believe Newt quit because of what he wrote about. I believe there is another reason. No, I don’t know what that is… Here is his letter and you tell me if this is the man you know and love!

I think something else forced this decision… OR he is not the man I know him to be… Do you think George Washington or Thomas Hamilton would have done this? I think NOT!

Why I Decided Not to Run For President

Last Saturday, my family and I faced a big decision about how we can best serve America.

Before the opening of Solutions Day on Thursday, the success of Solutions Day and the American Solutions movement to create real change with real solutions was unknowable. But by Saturday morning, the verdict on the American people’s desire to actively participate in creating the next generation of solutions to the daunting challenges America faces was in.

American Solutions had resonated with and had captured the imagination of the American public, and it became clear Saturday that American Solutions would be an active and successful voice in the American dialogue going forward.

That left us with a choice on how best to serve: Move forward with assessing a Gingrich candidacy for President of the United States with its uncertain outcome; or remain the citizen leader of American Solutions for Winning the Future, which has now proven to be an organization that will play a major role in shaping the 2008 election debate and beyond by offering solutions and representing millions of Americans who want real change.

Some have asked why I couldn’t have explored the possibility of running and remained the Chairman of American Solutions. The fact is — because of the current, misguided and destructive campaign finance laws, as well as the willingness of some to make misguided allegations without knowing all the facts — if I had decided to explore being a candidate, it would have become necessary to sever my relationship with American Solutions to protect it from false allegations of being used as a devise to promote the feasibility of my candidacy, which is not permissible under the law. Moreover, under those same destructive campaign finance laws, I would have had to absolutely sever all ties with American Solutions to guard against allegations that I was “coordinating” with the group I had help found. This would have left American Solutions which is less than a year old, without a leader and, therefore, extremely vulnerable to failure.

As of Saturday, thousands of people from all across the nation came together to make Solutions Day the incredible success that it was. That would not have happened without the untold number of volunteer hours spent, the talent of the board, the millions of dollars donors invested and the incredible professionalism of the American Solutions staff led by Dave Ryan and Pat Saks.

I was not willing to sacrifice American Solutions and its future potential to change American for the better for what would have been an uncertain run to be President.

I have said all along that the agent of change was not the presidency but the more than 513,000 elected officials and millions of citizen activists. I still believe that change will not come from Washington but from the American people, and we proved it over the weekend. Let me just share with you what would have been sacrificed if I had abandoned leadership of the American Solutions movement.

The Choice and Making the Right Decision

On Saturday morning, as Callista and I were on our way to the University of West Georgia in Carrollton where I was speaking and where many of the workshops were preparing to get underway, we were confronted with a choice: I could continue to lead what I believe will be the most successful movement for change in a generation or I could abandon that effort to pursue the uncertain road of running for President.

As you know, an effort to assess a Gingrich candidacy was to have begun today, Monday, October 1, two days after the completion of Solutions Day. That assessment was to discern whether there was sufficient support for a candidacy. My decision not to seek the presidency preempted that effort. Because it never began, the outcome of such an assessment can never be fully known, but I was humbled by the messages of support and by the people who said they would be willing to make a pledge to raise resources had I elected to run.

We do know that we could have met Federal Election Commission requirements and that there would have been sufficient resources to start filing for primaries on October 15 (the Utah deadline, the earliest in the country).

We also knew from recent trips to the Republican Conference on Mackinac Island, Mich., and the conservative dinner for the Nevada Policy Research Institute that there was and is a hunger for new ideas and new energy in the race.

I had said publicly for months that I was committed to focusing on American Solutions and the success of Solutions Day and would not begin to assess a candidacy until after the completion of the workshops Saturday, September 29. And that is what I did. I did not and would not take a single step toward running before Saturday.

Late last week, I outlined a process by which an assessment headed by my friend and advisor Randy Evans could begin, but my directions were clear: No activity could take place before Monday, October 1.

Randy was prepared to take leave, if necessary, from his law firm to complete the assessment.

I had suspended my relationship as a contributor with Fox News until the results of the assessment were known.

As of yesterday, a website, NewtNow.org, was preparing to launch.

On Saturday morning, Callista and I fully expected to see Randy hold a press conference on Monday to announce the website and explain why we had established $30 million in pledges as the threshold for running.

I will tell you that like most middle-class Americans, I cannot afford to match someone like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s ability to write a $100 million personal check, which is permissible under the law to support his campaign. I reasoned, therefore, that if we could find enough pledges to mount a serious effort, I would consider a campaign focused on solutions, using new communications approaches in order to have a genuinely solutions-oriented dialogue with the American people.

The Most Open and Non-Partisan 527 to Date

The still-open question was whether we could do both. As American Solutions emerged on September 27 and 29, our legal advisers fully assessed the McCain-Feingold censorship law on the simultaneous activities of the newly conceived candidacy assessment and my desire to continue leading American Solutions and what implications, legal and otherwise, that would have on American Solutions were I to become a candidate.

American Solutions is technically organized as a 527. That means it can raise unlimited personal and corporate after tax dollars. However, it cannot engage in federal campaign activities. American Solutions had been designed as a unique non-partisan institution — the only 527 of its kind.

Every aspect of American Solutions and how it operates is well within the law — even though I disagree strongly with the law.

Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents were invited to present Solutions Day workshops.

Similarly, anyone could join in the program as a viewer by signing up without regard to party affiliation.

Over the next few weeks, American Solutions plans to release the results of six national polls and $250,000-plus worth of research to the candidates of both parties and will post it on the Internet for everyone to see and use.

I am proud to say that American Solutions for Winning the Future is the most open, transparent and non-partisan 527 in existence.

Under the McCain-Feingold Censorship Law, We Could Raise Money or Raise Ideas — Not Both.

I became all too familiar with political attempts to censure citizens when I taught a class called Renewing American Civilization at Kennesaw College in Georgia when I was Speaker of the House. Even though I had been a college teacher for eight years and had a Ph.D. in Modern European History, some did not like the fact that I was teaching a course on a college campus. A full-scale attack was launched on me and ethics charges in the House soon followed. Ultimately, the bipartisan ethics committee, a federal judge and the IRS reached the same conclusion that should have be obvious all along: There is nothing unethical or unlawful about a former college teacher with a Ph.D. teaching a non-partisan class to college students. That was more than a decade ago, and McCain-Feingold has only made it worse by what I can only describe as criminalizing citizenship participation in civic affairs and the right to free speech.

But the law is the law whether I agree with it or not. With the success of American Solutions and the recognition that it will be a viable enterprise going forward, it became clear Saturday that I could not under the McCain-Feingold censorship law, the current law governing campaign finance, participate in leading American Solutions while exploring a candidacy because quite simply, under McCain Feingold, it would have been illegal. Moreover, I would have put American Solutions at risk for politically motivated attacks and endless investigations not based upon facts but based upon the desired political outcomes of those who seek to protect the status quo from citizen activists who desire real change.

The whole purpose of a presidential race for me would be to bring new solutions and new ideas into the political arena.

But under McCain-Feingold, I had to choose between being creative and being a candidate. I could raise money or raise ideas, but not both.

I am not willing to subject the American Solutions team to wither under endless attacks and politically charged investigations with criminal penalties including jail time. Moreover, I am not willing to abandon our supporters, donors, volunteers and staff who have made American Solutions the success that it is.

For me, it was impossible to imagine walking into this extraordinarily successful gathering with its amazing number of workshops and remarkable nationwide participation (all 50 states) in its very first outing, only to announce we were going to shut it down.

We Need Three or Four Years to Develop a New Generation of Solutions

Once we fully understood the legal and other implications that running would have on American Solutions and what I expect it will become, Callista and I had to make a choice between these mutually exclusive opportunities. We immediately decided that our authentic path was to keep growing and developing American Solutions. The decision was immediate, unequivocal and without regret.

We need three or four years to build the American Solutions movement into the kind of broad non-partisan movement for real change that America so desperately needs.

We need three or four years to develop a new generation of solutions for the poorest Americans and the worst neighborhoods in our biggest cities.

We need time to flesh out and develop in-depth the Green Conservatism Terry Maple and I write about in Contract With the Earth, which will come out later this month.

We need time to expand on the work which the Center for Health Transformation has been doing to develop a science and technology based and entrepreneurially led 21st Century Intelligent Health System.

Our decision last Saturday not to run was not a step away from active citizenship.

It was a positive decision that, for now, our best efforts should be as solutions oriented and idea oriented citizen activists working with all Americans who want to develop real change for America. I am entirely optimistic about the future.

It was the right decision.

A Final Note on McCain-Feingold

You’ve heard me say it before: The McCain-Feingold censorship law should be repealed.

It has actually made politics more focused on money.

One presidential candidate told me Saturday that I was right about the focus on money and that he had done 68 fundraisers in the last month.

And the very idea of limiting free speech is not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American.

I have no problem with wealthy Americans spending millions of their own money if their middle-class opponents can raise the same size contributions from their supporters.

I object deeply, however, to a system that makes it almost impossible for middle-class candidates to raise money and that is rapidly moving us towards a plutocracy in which only the rich can compete for office.

This cycle’s presidential campaign is a year longer than it should be because of the terrible burdens on fund raising created by McCain-Feingold.

We need a simple system that says Americans can spend any amount of their after-tax income they want as long as campaigns reports each night every check that was deposited that day on the Internet so the country knows where the money is coming from.

That would be transparent, simple and fair.

It would shorten campaigns.

It would level the playing field between the rich and the middle class.

It would allow candidates to return to studying issues and thinking deeply about policies instead of exhausting themselves begging for money three or four times a day, seven days a week.

The simple act of repealing McCain-Feingold and replacing it with that straightforward, transparent system of reporting would make our politics healthier and more idea oriented in a matter of weeks.

In that world, it would be possible to both work with a solutions based organization seeking solutions and be a candidate for public office.

  Your friend,
  Newt Gingrich
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