Contact: Devon Whitham; (562) 370-8411; devon@99Rise.org
Guido Girgenti; (646) 249-6500; guido@99Rise.org
Students Demand Full Disclosure of All Secret Political Spending in Run Up to Most Expensive Election In History
(New York, NY, October 24)—Alarmed by the billions of dollars of secret money flooding into the political system to influence voters this election cycle, three high school students sat in at JPMorgan Chase in lower Manhattan today, demanding full disclosure of the bank’s anonymous political expenditures. The students, who delivered a petition to the bank over three weeks ago articulating their demand, refused to leave the bank’s premises until the requested information was handed over to the public. The bank instead chose to shut down the entire 60 floor building and have them arrested.
“I’m risking arrest today because I’m fed up with the politics as usual,” said Emilie Hirsh, a high school senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. “The way we finance elections is broken. Both sides are dependent on the donations of corporations and the super-rich, and that means that their preferences take precedent over the needs of ordinary Americans like me, regardless of who ends up in office. I’m prepared to get arrested in hopes of inspiring other frustrated Americans to join me in pushing for change.”
Hirsh and the other students are members of 99Rise, a new anti-corruption movement to get Big Money out of American politics. 99Rise is a grassroots response to the deep dissatisfaction felt by citizens across the political spectrum towards the increasing corruption of American government. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, billionaire and corporate spending on election ads has jumped by 1,139%. With an estimated $9.8 billion set to be spent during this electoral cycle, the 2012 elections will be the most expensive in history. This spending is increasingly bankrolled by anonymous, unaccountable funders who, because of a loophole in the tax code, conceal their political spending by funneling it through so-called “social welfare” organizations that are not required to disclose their donors and that can spend unlimited amounts of money running political ads. Due to the disproportionate political influence of wealthy donors in elections, one in four Americans say they are less likely to vote, and 75% of Americans believe money buys results in Congress.
Today’s sit-in in New York will be followed by a sit-in in Los Angeles tomorrow, when another group of young people will deliver the same petition making the same demand of another Wall Street bank. The Los Angeles protesters will also refuse to leave until their demand is met and will also risk arrest. Eight protestors were arrested on September 28th at Bank of America in Los Angeles in 99Rise’s first petition delivery and sit-in. The movement’s ultimate objective is to win a constitutional amendment banning Big Money from American politics and landmark federal legislation reforming the nation’s campaign finance and lobbying laws.