We went to Washington, D.C. Oct. 19-21 as representatives of American Promise-West Metro to attend the National Citizens Leadership Conference and to meet with our senators and representatives, asking for their support to getting big money out of politics.
After two days of meetings and training, we joined with 200 people from around the U.S. to meet with our respective senators and representatives. Our Minnesota group visited staff of senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar in the morning. After lunch we headed for meetings with staff members for representatives Angie Craig, Tom Emmer and Collin Peterson. Our highlight was to meet with our Rep. Dean Phillips and his legislative counsel Damon Effingham.
We arrived early at Rep. Phillips' office. As we waited in the congressman’s office lobby, he walked in the door. “Am I late for a meeting?” he quipped. I told him we were early.
We started our meeting by thanking the congressman for his across-the-aisle work on government reform and for holding town halls throughout his district.
Jay told him the story about when the Chanhassen City Council proposed an ordinance to move tobacco behind the counter to reduce teenage smoking. How lawyers representing tobacco, distributors and convenience stores descended on Chanhassen, telling us this ordinance would end the world and threatened expensive litigation. The ordinance did not pass, but other cities took up the cause and soon the cities outnumbered the lawyers. City after city passed ordinances and then states passed laws.
American Promise is working city by city and state by state until Congress passes a Constitutional Amendment.
The few minutes of the congressman’s time his scheduler had promised turned into a half hour, as he asked questions and we responded. It was a refreshing back and forth conversation, as opposed to the other meetings with staffers who took notes and said they would pass our concerns to bosses. Our main “ask” to Congressman Phillips was that he continue to work across the aisle and gave him a list of Republican representatives that have indicated to other American Promise teams an interest in giving the power back to the voters and away from big money.
We concluded by thanking Congressman Phillips for his headlining at “Drawing Back the Curtain on Campaign Finance: How You Can Regain Control” at Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m.
Sally and Jay Johnson