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Money Is The Problem

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” That quote has deeply resonated with me since I was very young. My own life experience showed me how greed can wreck lives and corrupt everything that it touches. Not even democracy is safe from the influence of this plague.

In 2011, challenging the influence of money in politics became the center focus of my political activism in the wake of the Citizens United ruling in 2010 and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. With the help of fellow local activists in our local chapter of “Occupy” (which we called “The 99% of Newark and East Central Ohio”), we managed to get an initiative on the ballot in Newark (becoming one of the first two initiative drives which successfully submitted a petition for the ballot in Newark’s history in 2016). That initiative would have declared that our community supported an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of clarifying that “money isn’t speech” and that “corporations aren’t people”.

In launching each of my own campaigns for office in the years since our organization was founded I have proudly limited campaign contributions to my campaign to no more than $250 per person, including myself. I initially barred any contributions which didn’t come from an individual, because I fully believe that we must break away from our over-reliance on the involvement of political action committees. Yet, a few years ago, I was convinced to at least let Union PACs donate to my campaign, as a friend noted that all money from such PACs are from members of the working class.

Still, the $250 limit remained from my first campaign up until this year, when my fellow Occupy activist, Sally Gartner (the most hardworking of all of us from the founding of our little group of activists through to our 2016 ballot initiative) volunteered her services as my campaign manager and asked me wholeheartedly to reconsider my contribution limits. I relented after she pointed out how expensive this write-in campaign was going to be, especially as I considered her incredible dedication to the cause and the fact that she underscored numerous supporters who wanted to donate significantly to this campaign. This is why I raised it to $1,000 a few weeks ago.

Now, unfortunately, this campaign is at a crossroads. We are making great progress with getting the word out so far, but we likely need to spend far more than I initially hoped in order to make a serious effort at winning. Out of deep respect for all of my supporters and the fact that you have entrusted in this campaign the best use of your hard-earned money, I need to make a decision which will conflict with what I have always wanted to avoid doing: raising the contribution limit.

I partially blame my aversion to asking for help on my early life experience of struggling to survive as the child of a single mother of four. My mother was a hard worker, but we had many hard times, and that consisted of many moments where she had to ask for help from others. People often shamed my mother for needing help, and that impression stuck with me. No one in need should ever feel shame for needing help, but that’s how far too many people treated my family in our times of desperation.

Yet, if I am to be of any use to the countless downtrodden people in Ohio and beyond who need a voice speaking on their behalf against the cacophony of selfishness, I need to confront my fears of asking for help, bury my pride, and challenge my bias against money. We have to win these battles, because so much is riding on the fights ahead. That is what’s resting on my soul as I have considered one last increase to the contribution limit. Having reached my decision, I have concluded that the limit will now be $3,000.

I don’t take these decisions lightly, but I want to show that I am serious about listening to everyone’s input; even when it forces me to confront the things I believe at my core.

Thank you for reading. Onward.


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