Just How Much Does It Cost An Establishment Politically Wired Presidential Campaign To Rent A Community College Auditorium? The Unfiltered Lens Found Out ….
Yes, just The Community College Of Rhode Island managed to do what mere mortals spend a lifetime estimating .. The Cost Of Free Speech (See Earlier Story) … For a mere 1660$, CCRI gave its imprimatur to an establishment
Free Speech Censored During Hillary Clinton Rally At CCRI? Exclusive Audio: VIA The Unfiltered Lens-CCRI Newspaper
April 15, 2016
For Immediate Release:
The Unfiltered Lens, the Community College of Rhode Island's Student Run Newspaper is reporting:
Former president, Bill Clinton, addressed a crowd yesterday at CCRI on behalf of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Prior to the Clinton speech, RI governor, Gina Raimondo, an ardent Hillary supporter, told the crowd, "Are we all ready to elect Hillary as our next president? Some students standing very near Lens writers responded with a resounding, NO! They were quickly met with a HRC staffer telling them to keep quiet, no booing, or they'd have to leave.
This wasn't the only incident.
After the event concluded, several students came to The Lens' office, saying they were met by HRC staffers also while quietly holding a "Bernie" sign in the crowd.
One student, Dante Carrasco, told The Lens he was just holding the sign when a suited man approached and informed him, "Either the sign has to go, or you do".
Two other students, Paul Moore and Brian Bowes, came forward to The Lens saying they had made a hand-written "Bernie" sign, taped it on a wall, only to watch HRC suited staffers quickly walk over and take it down. However, on the opposite side of where these students had placed their meager sign, a massive banner read, Rhode Island= Clinton Country.
Apparently, certain speech is tolerated only when comporting to the correct candidate.
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PRESS RELEASE | 04/14/2016 Former Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Switzerland & Poland; Former Prime Ministers of Greece, Hungary & The Netherlands Join With Distinguished Scholars, Celebrities, Clergy, Business Leaders, Elected Officials, and Others in Calling for Alternatives to Prohibitionist Drug Control Policies
“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,”Letter Says
(New York, New York) – On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”
The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.
“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century,” the letter says, “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights. Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.
“Governments devoted disproportionate resources to repression at the expense of efforts to better the human condition. Tens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security. Problematic drug use and HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases spread rapidly as prohibitionist laws, agencies and attitudes impeded harm reduction and other effective health policies.
“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s.”
“The influence and diversity of the leaders who signed this letter is unprecedented,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which orchestrated the initiative in collaboration with dozens of allied organizations and individuals around the world. “Never before have so many respected voices joined together in calling for fundamental reform of drug control policies – in particular limiting ‘the role of criminalization and criminal justice… to the extent truly required to protect health and safety’.”
The UN Special Session, which will take place April 19-21, is the first of its kind since 1998, when the UN’s illusory but official slogan was “A drug-free world – we can do it!” The upcoming UNGASS was proposed in late 2012 by the Mexican government, with strong support from other Latin American governments. Last year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a strong call-to-action, urging governments “to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options.” Today’s public letter to him was prompted in part by the obstacles to such debate within the confines of the United Nations.
“This letter was drafted and all the signatures secured in just the past few weeks,” noted Nadelmann. “The signatories represent a tiny fraction of the distinguished leaders in politics and public policy, academia, law and law enforcement, health and medicine, culture and entertainment, business, and religion who would agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter.”
“We’ve come a long way since 1998,” said Nadelmann, “with a growing number of countries rejecting drug war rhetoric and policies. But the progress achieved to date pales beside the reforms still required.” As the letter says: “A new global response to drugs is needed, grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.”
NEWSWORTHY GROUPINGS OF SIGNATORIESBelow represent just a few of the distinguished individuals around the world who signed the public letter to Ban Ki-moon. For a complete list go to: http://www.drugpolicy.org/ungass2016
Former Presidents & Prime Ministers
Gordon Bajnai (Hungary)
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil)
Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland)
Vicente Fox (Mexico)
César Gaviria Trujillo (Colombia)
Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland)
Ricardo Lagos (Chile)
Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria)
George Papandreou (Greece)
Pedro Pires (Cape Verde)
Andries A. van Agt (Netherlands)
Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico)
U.S. Public OfficialsToney Anaya (Former Governor, New Mexico)
Cory Booker (U.S. Senator, New Jersey)
Howard Dean (Former Governor, Vermont)
David Dinkins (Former Mayor, New York City)
Gary Johnson (Former Governor, New Mexico)
Bob Kerrey (Former Governor and Senator, Nebraska)
Ed Markey (U.S. Senator, Massachusetts)
Jeff Merkley (U.S. Senator, Oregon)
Gavin Newsom (Lieutenant Governor, California)
Bill Richardson (Former Governor, New Mexico)
Bernie Sanders (U.S. Senator, Vermont)
Kurt Schmoke (Former Mayor, Baltimore)
Peter Shumlin (Governor, Vermont)
Elizabeth Warren (U.S. Senator, Massachusetts)
Current and Former Cabinet MinistersArni Pall Arnason (Former Minister of Social Affairs, Iceland)
Pedro Aspe (Former Minister of Finances, Mexico)
Norman Baker (Minister of State at the Home Office, U.K.)
Marek Balicki (Former Minister of Health, Poland)
Peter Baume (Former Minister for Health, Australia)
Neal Blewett (Former Minister for Health, Australia)
Michal Boni (Former Minister of Administration and Digitization, Poland)
Emma Bonino (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy)
Frank Carlucci (Former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Former Deputy Director of the CIA, U.S.)
Fernando Carrera (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala)
Nicholas Clegg (Former Deputy Prime Minister, U.K.)
Bernt Johan Collet (Former Minister of Defence, Denmark)
Hedy d’Ancona (Former Minister of Health, the Netherlands)
Bob Debus (Former Minister for Home Affairs, Australia)
Uffe Elbaek (Former Minister of Culture, Denmark, Denmark)
Baroness Lynne Featherstone (Minister of State at the Home, U.K.)
Diego Garcia-Sayan (Former Minister of Justice; Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peru)
Alejandra Gaviria (Minister of Health, Colombia)
Mark Golding (Former Minister of Justice, Jamaica)
Anthony Hylton (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jamaica)
Vasyl Knyazevytch (Former Minister of Health, Ukraine)
Bernard Koucher (Former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, France)
Sandro Kvitashvili (Minister of Health, Ukraine)
Norman Lamb (Former Health Minister, United Kingdom)
Cecilia M. Lopez (Former Minister of Agriculture, Colombia)
Maria Julia Munoz (Minister of Education and Culture, Uruguay)
Svatopluk Nemecek (Minister of Health, Czech Republic)
George Papandreou (Former Prime Minister, Greece)
Robert Reich (Former Secretary of Labor, U.S.)
Yesid Reyes (Minister of Justice, Colombia)
Miguel Samper (Former Deputy Minister of Justice, Colombia)
George Shultz (Former U.S. Secretary of State; Former US Secretary of Labor; Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, U.S.)
Thorvald Stoltenberg (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Former Minister of Defence, Norway)
Umberto Veronesi (Former Minister of Health, Italy)
Mary J. Blige
Billie Jean King
Business & Philanthropic Leaders
Paul Beirne (U.S.)
Chris Blackwell (Jamaica)
Richard Branson (U.K.)
Eli Broad (U.S.)
Susie Buell (U.S.)
Warren Buffett (U.S.)
Jannie Chan (Singapore)
Mark Cuban (U.S.)
Barry Diller (U.S.)
Christopher Forbes (U.S.)
Tom Freston (U.S.)
David Geffen (U.S.)
Ryan Holmes (Canada)
Mo Ibrahim (Sudan)
Alexander Rinnooy Kan (Netherlands)
Dustin Moskovitz (U.S.)
Zbigniew Niemczycki (Poland)
Salvador Paiz (Guatemala)
Antonio del Valle Perochena (Mexico)
Alex Ramirez (Mexico)
Stuart Resnick (U.S.)
Eugenio Clariond Reyes Retana (Mexico)
João Roberto Marinho (Brazil)
Ricardo Salinas (Mexico)
George Soros (U.S.)
Lord Rumi Verjee (U.K.)
J. Arturo Zapata (Mexico)
Law and JusticeLouise Arbour, Former Justice, Supreme Court of Canada; Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Canada)
Mark Bennett, US District Court Judge, Northern District of Iowa (U.S.)
Ernesto Pazmiño Granizo, Public Defender General (Ecuador)
Webb Hubbell, Former Associate Attorney General of the United States; Former Chief Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court; Former Mayor, Little Rock, Arkansas (U.S.)
Ketil Lund, Former Supreme Court Justice (Norway)
Lord Jonathan Marks, Barrister; Peer, House of Lords (UK)
Cruz Reynoso, Former Justice, California Supreme Court (U.S.)
Hal Sperling, Former Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales (Australia)
Jón Steinar, Gunnlaugsson, Former Supreme Court Judge (Iceland)
Robert Sweet, US Federal Judge, UD District Court, Southern District of NY (U.S.)
Patricia Wald, Former Chief Judge, US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; Former Judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (U.S.)
Vaughn Walker, Former District Judge, US District Court, Northern District of California (U.S.)
Raul Eugenio Zafaronni, Judge, Inter American Human Rights Court; Former member, Argentinean Supreme Court of Justice (Argentina)
Law EnforcementSette Câmara, Former Police Commissioner, Federal Police (Brazil)
Gustavo de Greiff, Former Attorney General (Colombia)
TJ Donovan, State's Attorney, Burlington, Vermont (U.S.)
Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, Illinois (U.S.)
Pete Holmes, City Attorney, Seattle (U.S.)
George Gascón, District Attorney, San Francisco (U.S.)
Jim Manfre, Sheriff, Flagler County, Florida (U.S.)
Mick Palmer, Former Commissioner Australian Federal Police (Australia)
Karl Racine, Attorney General, District of Columbia (U.S.)
Ellen Rosenblum, Attorney General, Oregon (U.S.)
Graham Seaby, Former Detective Superintendent, New Scotland Yard (U.K.)
David Soares, District Attorney, Albany, New York (U.S.)
Hubert Wimber, Police Chief, Muenster (Germany)
African American LeadersMichelle Alexander
Senator Cory Booker
Congressman John Conyers
Professor Angela Y. Davis
Professor Troy Duster
Professor Michael Eric Dyson
Congresswoman Donna Edwards
Congressman Keith Ellison
James E. Ferguson II
Professor Carl Hart
Congressman Alcee Hastings
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congressman Bobby Scott
U.S. Latino LeadersToney Anaya
Congressman Ruben Gallego
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham
Gerald Ortiz y Pino
Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez
Faith/Religious LeadersFather Xavier Albó
Reverend Dr. William Barber II
Reverend Janet Cooper-Nelson
Reverend Dr. Yvonne Delk
Reverend Martin Ignacio Diaz Velasquez
Reverend Dr. John C. Dorhauer
Reverend Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue
Reverend James A. Forbes
Reverend Wendell Griffin
Reverend Héctor Gutiérrez
Reverend Frederick Haynes III
Reverend Miguel A. Hernandez
Reverend M. William Howard
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Reverend Peter Morales
Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
Rabbi Jonah Pesner
Reverend Dr. Bernice Powell-Jackson
Reverend Barbara Ripple
Reverend Edwin Sanders
Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright
HealthChris Beyrer, President, International AIDS Society; Desmond Tutu Professor in Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore (U.S.)
Jo Ivey Boufford, President, New York Academy of Medicine (U.S.)
Pedro Cahn, Former President, International AIDS Society (Argentina)
Grant Colfax, M.D.; Former Director, White House Office of National AIDS Policy (U.S.)
Jeffrey S. Crowley, Program Director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative, O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University Law Centre; Former Director White House Office of National AIDS Policy (U.S.)
Eric P. Goosby, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on TB; Professor of Medicine; Director, Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy, Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco (U.S.)
Anand Grover, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (India)
Paul Hunt, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (U.K.)
Stephen Lewis, Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa (Canada)
Marina Mahathir, UN Person of the Year (2010) for Achievements in Gender, Women’s Empowerment, and HIV/AIDs; Human Rights Activist (Malaysia)
Julio Montaner, Director, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (Canada)
David Nutt, Director, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Imperial College London; Former Chair, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (U.K.)
Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Former Executive Director, UNAIDS; Discoverer of the Ebola virus (Belgium)
Steve Safyer, President and CEO, Montefiore Health System, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (U.S.)
David Vlahov, Dean & Professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing (U.S.)
Andrew Weil, Director, Center for Integrative Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona (U.S.)
Other LeadersLord Paddy Ashdown, Former leader, Liberal Democrats; Former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Former Member of Parliament (U.K.)
Robert Curl, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996; University Professor Emeritus, Rice University (U.S.)
Asma Jahangir, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions (Pakistan)
Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2010 (Peru)
Lou McGrath, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997; Founder, Mines Action Group (U.K.)
Manfred Nowak, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (Austria)
John Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986 (Canada)
Lionel Rosenblatt, President Emeritus, Refugees International (U.S.)
Javier Sicilia, Founder, Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico; Poet; Journalist (Mexico)
Vernon Smith, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002; Professor of Economics; Founder and President, International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (U.S.)
Shashi Tharoor, Former Under-Secretary General, United Nations; Member of Parliament (India)
Mabel van Oranje (The Netherlands)
Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Former Director-General of UNESCO; Chairman, Foundation for a Culture of Peace (Spain)
*Institutional affiliations and titles are included solely for identification purposes and should not be understood as indicating the respective organization’s agreement with the content of this letter.
ABOUT THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.
Contact:Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827
Rhode Island Ethics Enforcement: Still Puzzling Over 1990's Issues
In Honor Of The Battle To Legalize Cannabis, The Coalition Brings You Judge Jim Gray, Freedom Warrior
Watch, Listen, & Learn .... Outrage Porn Free, Civilly Disobedient Radio.
Grand Opening of the South County Campaign Office
April 12, 2016
CONTACT: Suzanne Enser, 802.417.7430 firstname.lastname@example.org
We are pleased to announce the opening of the Bernie 2016 Wakefield Field Office.
Since June 2015, our all volunteer group has worked to support Bernie Sander’s vision of equality for all. As we head toward Rhode Island Primary Day, we now have a fully functioning campaign office through which to canvass out of, phone bank and rally support. Please come on down and join us.
WHO: Evan LeBrun-RI Campaign Director, Joe Caiasso-RI/CT Political Director, Cara Bates-Bernie 2016 Regional Field Director
WHAT: Grand Opening Bernie 2016 Wakefield Field Office
Phonebank and Canvass to follow
WHEN: Wednesday April 13, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
WHERE: 271 Main Street, Wakefield, RI
South County Bernie Sanders is a Volunteer Group
WHAT: Port of Providence Community Forum
WHEN: Monday April 18th 2016, 5-7pm
WHERE: Juanita Sanchez Education Complex (JSEC)
182 Thurbers Ave, Providence, RI
WHO: The Environmental Justice League of RI (EJLRI) will host a free Port of Providence Community Forum featuring a facilitated discussion with neighborhood residents, elected officials, and government representatives. Keynote panelists include: Curt Spalding, Administrator for EPA New England, Region 1; Leah Bamberger, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Providence; Vladimir Ibarra, Deputy Director of Providence Emergency Management Agency; Barbara Morin, Principal Environmental Health Risk Assessment Toxicologist at the RI Department of Health.
WHY: EJSCREEN, a new mapping tool from the EPA, shows that neighborhoods next to the Port of Providence are at high risk from environmental hazards and potential disasters. Heavy truck traffic, dangerous chemical and fossil fuel storage facilities, and toxic pollution in the air, soil and water is impacting the health and well-being of the nearby communities of color. Sea level rise and hurricane storm surges are a disaster waiting to happen, next to RI’s largest hospital complex.
ABOUT: Residents, community stakeholders, policy makers, elected officials, and members of the media are invited to join in a discussion about environmental and health issues in the port-impacted neighborhoods of Washington Park and South Providence. Snacks, Spanish-English interpretation, and kids games provided.
Dania Flores-Heagney, Environmental Justice League. Dania@ejlri.org (401) 383-7441
Christina Ergas, Superfund Research Program. Christina_Ergas@Brown.edu (214) 632-4971
For Immediate Release April 5, 2016
Charles St. Martin
First workshop is Thursday, April 7
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced a series of public workshops for the reconstruction of the 6-10 interchange as part of a process to reimagine this important transportation infrastructure.
The Route 6-10 Interchange Project has road and bridge elements that have been in design for approximately 30 years. Within the project limits there are seven structurally deficient bridges that need to be addressed immediately. The project, which is of regional significance, consists of addressing structurally deficient bridges and reconfiguring the interchange to accommodate local and regional travel for commuters and businesses.
The Department is committed to meet an April 14 deadline for submission to the Federal Highway Administration's recently announced FASTLANE grant program. The program, announced on February 26, makes $800 million available for projects of national or regional significance. RIDOT is applying for a $150 million grant for this project.
"With less than two months from the time we heard about this new federal grant until the time our application is due, we have been working aggressively to successfully compete for these dollars," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said. "At the same time, we have been meeting with the public and local, state and federal officials on design options. We look forward to continuing the public outreach process and developing a design that takes into consideration the needs of all transportation users for the Route 6-10 project and others who are affected by the interchange."
Meeting locations and times are listed below:
Thursday, April 7, 2016: 6-7:30 p.m. at the Johnston Senior Center, 1291 Hartford Ave., Johnston, RI
Monday, April 11, 2016: 6-7:30 p.m. at the Community College of RI, 400 East Ave., Warwick, RI
Tuesday, April 12, 2016: 6:30-8 p.m. at the Webster Avenue School, 191 Webster Ave., Providence, RI
Wednesday, April 13, 2016: 6-7:30 p.m. at the Cranston Senior Center, 1070 Cranston St., Cranston, RI
RIDOT's approach is centered on community engagement, and considers the traffic levels, design constraints and public comment to create a new vision for the replacement of this interchange. During the course of seeking funding from the Rhode Island General Assembly to fix the structurally deficient bridges, RIDOT has heard from different stakeholders and has expanded the design proposal to include a transit feature and a boulevard concept that would add open space, pedestrian connections, and a bike path, linking two segments of the state's bike network together and reconnecting two neighborhoods.
With Rhode Island being the second most densely populated state in the country, and its transit utilization ranking well below the national average, the options will provide for the incorporation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) feature to increase transit choices locally in the corridor and for commuters heading into and out of Providence.
The RhodeWorks program that was enacted in February provides $400 million in funds as the local share for the 6-10 interchange. The administration, in cooperation with the House and Senate, has made a commitment to fix the interchange now and solve an urgent safety problem and rather than leave it for future generations to correct.
PLAINTIFFS IN ANTITRUST LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMA, ROMNEY, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES OPPOSE MOTIONS TO DISMISS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Hunter
April 1, 2016, Washington, DC -- Attorneys for presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party, 2012 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the Green Party and their respective vice-presidential candidates have filed a 55-page brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia opposing motions to dismiss their anti-trust lawsuit against the Commission of Presidential Debates (CPD), Gov. Mitt Romney, and President Obama.
Bruce Fein, attorney for the Plaintiffs, explained that campaigning for the presidency is a multi-billion dollar business whose objectives include not only winning but attracting sufficient votes to influence the national political agenda. He added: “Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the CPD, has touted presidential debates as ‘the Super Bowl of politics,’ whose advertising or brand value to Obama and Romney in 2012 approached $1 billion each.” Fein noted that independent experts have placed the value of free media earned by candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race to date at a staggering $2 billion.
Johnson and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that participation in presidential debates is an “essential facility in the multi-billion dollar business of campaigning for the presidency; that presidential debates cannot be duplicated because the defendants agreed in writing in a Memorandum of Understanding to boycott all debates of joint appearance events with rivals outside CPD’s sponsorship; that defendants acting in concert arbitrarily denied Johnson and Stein access to presidential debates by establishing a 15% polling criterion to cripple competition in the business of campaigning for the presidency; and, that presidential debates can be conducted to optimize voter education by abandoning the 15% criterion but requiring debate participants to have qualified on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning an Electoral College majority. Applying that standard historically would have resulted in presidential debates with four to seven candidates, including Johnson and Stein in 2012, and would have enriched voter education.
The United States Supreme Court has lectured: “Historically political figures outside the two major parties have been fertile sources of new ideas and new programs; many of their challenges to the status quo have in time made their way into the political mainstream. In short, the primary values protected by the First Amendment—‘a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’—are served when election campaigns are not monopolized by the existing political parties.”
Fein argued that Citizens United v. FEC “changed the business of campaigning for the presidency as profoundly as the internal combustion engine changed the business of transportation or the Internet changed the business of communications. The decision unleashed limitless corporate, union, and other funds into presidential campaigns that shattered all prior business models.”
Fein amplified based on antitrust precedents: “Freedom to campaign for the presidency, including participation in presidential debates, means freedom for all and not for some. Freedom to campaign for the presidency, including participation in presidential debates, is guaranteed by the Constitution, but freedom to combine to keep others from campaigning or participating is not. Freedom from government interference under the First Amendment does not sanction repression of that freedom by private interests.”
Fein further noted that “the CPD was born in original sin intending to limit presidential debates to the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties” by “hijacking their sponsorship from the League of Women Voters.”
The CPD, Gov. Romney and President Obama earlier this year filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit. In a filing this week, the plaintiffs responded to those motions and urged the Court to allow the case to proceed.
The plaintiffs’ complete filing in opposition to motions to dismiss can be viewed here:
Gov. Scott Signs After Unanimous Bipartisan Vote in Both Houses
Tallahassee, FL – Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed civil asset forfeiture reform bill SB 1044. The new law strengthens individual property rights and holds police departments to a higher standard of record keeping and accountability. Civil forfeiture is a legal process by which law enforcement can seize property and money from individuals merely suspected of criminal activity, even if they are never charged with a crime. The practice has fostered questionable incentives for law enforcement agencies to benefit financially from a process that infringes on civil liberties. SB 1044 was unanimously supported in both the House and Senate and lauded by civil liberties and law enforcement organizations. According to a new poll from Drug Policy Action, 84% of registered Florida voters believe that police should not be able to seize and permanently take away property from people who have not been convicted of a crime.
“As enforcers of the law, we have a duty to stand up against policies that are unjust and recognize when our voices can be a powerful force for positive change,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end civil forfeiture and the drug war. “Although there is more to be done, the Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Association of Police Chiefs deserve recognition for making steps towards more sensible policies.”
Also on the lengthy list of SB 1044 supporters are the Drug Policy Alliance, Florida American Civil Liberties Union, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Institute for Justice, and Americans for Tax Reform.
The bill changes Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act, which decides how and when law enforcement agencies are able to seize assets. SB 1044 requires that police make an arrest in order to seize property in most cases, increases the evidentiary standard of proof from “clear and convincing” to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” holds the agency accountable for damages on seized property, and outlines reporting requirements for agencies to track forfeitures. No such requirement existed previously. Currently, Florida law enforcement agencies seizing assets of more than $15,000 per year must donate 15% of those assets to predetermined programs. The new law increases the donation requirement to 25%.
In nearly every U.S. state, law enforcement can seize money and property from individuals without seeking or obtaining a criminal conviction. Civil forfeiture places the legal burden of proof on the property (in-rem) rather than the owner (in personam), meaning the property is being charged rather than the person who owns it. Another type of forfeiture called “criminal forfeiture” requires the officer to obtain a conviction and ultimately accuses the property owner of criminal activity rather than the property being seized. This practice is generally considered beneficial because it aligns with the constitutional right to due process. According to a 2015 report by the Institute for Justice, 87% of forfeitures in the U.S. between 1997 and 2013 were civil and only 13% involved criminal cases. The same report graded Florida’s previous civil forfeiture laws with a D+ for abysmal individual property rights and unethical incentive for law enforcement to profit from these interactions.
LEAP is committed to ending decades of unconstitutional civil forfeiture laws that have damaged the trust between communities and police, fostered a misuse of law enforcement power, and eroded civil liberties nationwide.