California Coalition Launches Groundbreaking New Campaign To Evaluate Legislators; Hold Them Accountable For Not RepresentIng Their Districts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2016

CONTACT:  Brett Abrams | 516-841-1105 | brett@unbendablemedia.com

*** Press Call/Webinar Tuesday ***

California Coalition Launches Groundbreaking New Campaign To Evaluate Legislators; Hold Them Accountable For Not RepresentIng Their Districts

Campaign To Demand Legislators Represent Constituents, Not Corporate Benefactors

Hall of Shame Calls Out CA Legislators Who Are Most Out of Step With Their Constituents Priorities

CALIFORNIA -- Today, Courage Campaign, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, Progressive Kick, Presente.org and ColorOfChange launched a new campaign with a groundbreaking new tool that will allow Californians to evaluate how well their legislators represent the beliefs and values that voters in their district hold. The new website, CourageScore.org, will allow all Californians to see their state representatives’ “Courage Score” on a scale of 0-100, along with a corresponding letter grade. The Courage Score is a rating of each legislator’s willingness to stand up for their constituents against corporate benefactors and special interest groups that dominate California politics.

VIEW THE WEBSITE HERE: www.CourageScore.org

Up to this point, no progressive organization has tracked and rated legislators across a broad range of issue areas: from economic opportunity, to healthcare, to the environment, to racial justice, to gun violence, and more.  

The coalition will host a webinar press conference on Tuesday, April 5th, to announce the new website, and highlight the various tools available to local constituents and review various California legislators’ “Courage Scores.”

PRESS CALL / WEBINAR INFORMATION:

  • WHEN: 11:00AM PST.  April 5th, 2016
  • CALL-IN NUMBER/CODE: (701) 801-1220, Meeting ID 139-894-219
  • WEBINAR LINK: https://join.startmeeting.com/139894219
  • Press is welcome to call in without joining the webinar.
  • SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Eddie Kurtz and Emma Crossen, Courage Campaign; Vivian Richardson and Jefferson McGee, ACCE Action; Joshua Grossman, Progressive Kick; Matt Nelson, Presente.org

In addition to featuring Courage Scores for all 120 state legislators, the website features an Assembly “Hall of Shame” which includes those Assemblymembers who are most out of step with their constituents, and most closely aligned with corporate and special interests that exploit Californians. To make this list, a legislator needed to have a Courage Score of 59 or lower -- resulting in a grade of “F” -- and represent a district which clearly supports more progressive policies than the legislator. Each Hall of Shame profile features the member’s top corporate contributors, as well as a narrative describing how the representative failed his or her constituents. The Hall of Shame includes:

Tom Daly (D-Anaheim)
Jim Frazier (D-Oakley)
Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove)
Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino)
Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach)
Luis Alejo (D-Salinas)
Mike Gipson (D-Carson)
Bill Dodd (D-Napa)
Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg)
Matthew Dababneh (D-Encino)
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles)
Catherine Baker (R-San Ramon)

On April 7th, the coalition will hold a press conference in Los Angeles featuring speakers from the districts represented by members of the Hall of Shame, explaining their great disappointment with their elected representatives in Sacramento especially in the Assembly. The speakers will detail specific votes in which the legislators chose to support the interests of their corporate benefactors over their constituents, particularly constituents that are poor, people of color, or disadvantaged. In addition, the speakers will offer evidence that the majority of voters in the legislator’s district support more progressive policies than the legislators themselves.  

LOS ANGELES EVENT DETAILS:

WHEN: 12pm PST, Thursday, April 7, 2016
WHERE: Southern California Gas Co. Executive Offices 555 West Fifth St. Los Angeles, CA 90013-1011

The coalition will also hold press conferences in other locations across the state. Information on those events will be available later this week.

“Sacramento’s ongoing failure to adequately address the needs of Californians is a statewide emergency. A key reason for this failure is the growing influence of corporate power on a significant portion of our Democratic legislators, many representing the deepest blue districts in the state. They have failed to represent both the interests of their constituents and the values of the Democratic party,” explained Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign.  “We have launched this unprecedented campaign to expose them and encourage them to reconnect with the needs of their communities. By standing in the way of clean air for our children to breathe, by blocking reforms to address the institutional racism that plagues our justice system, and by refusing to fight for the most vulnerable among us, they shame themselves.”

“Last year our low to moderate income members from across the state traveled to Sacramento to meet with their legislators and urge them to address the growing economic and racial inequity being driven by low wages; higher costs for quality education because of inadequate investment; and the growing affordable housing crisis,” stated ACCE Action Board Chair Vivian Richardson “but while we moved important legislation through the Senate, we were dismayed to find our Democratic Assembly members speaking the same language as the Corporate Lobbyists who had just visited them.”

“These members of the state legislature profiled in the Hall of Shame need to stop selling out the public interest for 30 pieces of silver from the sleazy polluters who are funding their campaigns,” stated Joshua Grossman, President of Progressive Kick.

“Californians have a right to livable wages, fresh air, clean water, good jobs, and uncontaminated government. Sadly, some corporate-serving, self-serving politicians have leveraged their positions of power to block progress and disregard their constituents in order to appease their corporate paymasters,”said Matt Nelson, Managing Director of Presente.org. “It’s an all too familiar political story of our elected officials — politicians who take the side of corrupt mega-industries after taking their money. We expect courage, not cowardice from our elected leaders, and this project provides an opportunity for the public to expose corporate influence and hold corrupt and corruptible politicians accountable,” concluded Nelson.

"ColorOfChange is excited to join this powerful coalition in the fight for integrity and transparency in the California Legislature. Just as our members have held political leaders across the spectrum for representing corporate interests over the interests of Black Americans, we look forward to doing the same in Sacramento," stated Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.

A full list of the bills used to calculate the Courage Score can be found here:
http://couragescore.org/legislative-votes-determined-courage-score/

For more information, or to speak with a member of the coalition, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@unbendablemedia.com.

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