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Bird-Dog the Candidates

**URGENT ACTION ALERT**

The highest office in America should not be for sale. Yet, the presidential candidates are collecting truck loads of cash from bundlers and big donors. The "Presidential Funding Act of 2007" would fix this by modernizing the presidential public funding system.

Take action!

Bird-dog (bûrd'-dôg), v. To follow, monitor and/or seek out a subject of interest, such as a public official, with persistent attention to get answers to questions or influence the subject. 

Now is the time to ask the candidates what they are going to do about the "For Sale" sign on the White House lawn.  We've been asking the candidates to tell us who their big bundlers are and how they will fix the presidential public financing system.  As you can see, some candidates have been more forthcoming than others.

bird-dog

The torrent of money in this presidential election cannot be ignored and the presidential candidates should not be able to side-step this critical issue.  They need to be asked at every campaign stop to disclose their fat cat bundlers and to tell us how they will change the pay-to-play system.

We can't be everywhere at once, but with your help we can make sure the candidates come clean about their campaign cash and their ideas for fixing the system.  Help us get some real answers by bird-dogging the candidates.

It's important - and it's also fun.

Let's hit the campaign trail and put public funding of elections on the map of every presidential candidate!

We Want Your Video!

We will post the best of the video clips we get of voters bird-dogging the presidential contenders on the problem of money in presidential politics on WhiteHouseForSale.org and on our Watchdog Blog.  Send us your video or a link to your posted video on YouTube or elsewhere online at action@citizen.org (please put "bird-dog" in the subject line).

Did you bird-dog, but didn't get a video?  We still want to hear about your Q&A with the candidates.  Please send us an e-mail or submit a comment to our post on the Watchdog Blog.

Ready to Bird-Dog?

Can't Bird-Dog?

If the candidates aren't coming to your town any time soon, you can still help.  E-mail the candidates and ask them to come completely clean about their campaign cash and their ideas for fixing the system.  Or, post your questions as a comment on the candidates' blogs.

Tips for Successful Bird-Dogging

  • Know where they stand.  Before you bird-dog, check "Who's Talking?" for the latest information about the candidates.  Have the candidates said how much money each bundler has raised or from whom? [Hint: none of the candidates have done either.] Which candidates are running with public funds?  Which candidates refuse to tell us how they'll fix the presidential public financing system?  The more you know about where the candidate stands the more specific your question can be.
  • Be assertive.  Candidates have very busy schedules and may only take a few questions from audiences during public appearances.  In order to be heard, be sure to get in line or raise your hand immediately when it's time for questions.  You also don't have to wait for public speeches or town hall events.  Try for a quick question during a meet-and-greet session or other public appearances.
  • Be polite. Most candidates will not take rude people or questions seriously.
  • Be direct.  Don't give a long explanation of your question.  While you will want to set up your question, the goal of bird-dogging is to force a candidate to respond to an important issue on the record.
  • End with a very specific question.  Politicians love avoiding difficult issues, so make sure to ask a clear and specific question to ensure that they address the issue you are interested in.  Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no answer.  If you feel like your question was not answered, politely ask it again.

Sample Questions

#1 Big-Money Bundler Questions

The Setup:

"I am very concerned about the role money plays in politics and the outrageous sums being raised and spent in this presidential election.  When individuals bundle campaign contributions for candidates, it undermines federal contribution limits and raises concerns among the public. Right now, it is easy for candidates to avoid telling voters who these influential fundraisers are, since the law does not require 'bundlers' to be specifically identified by the campaigns."

The Question:

"How will you make the way you disclose your bundled campaign contributions more transparent?  Also, if elected, how will you work to ensure that all candidates are required to disclose the amount of contributions that are bundled, by and from whom?"

#2 Fixing the Presidential Public Financing System Question

The Setup:

"The presidential public financing system helped to lessen the corrupting influence of money in our presidential elections for many years.  But more recently, the system has been unable to keep up with the rapidly increasing costs of running a campaign for president. Candidates are no longer using the system, and wealthy special interests and a handful of powerful bundlers once again have too much access and influence."

The Question:

"If elected, what will you do to modernize the presidential public financing system?"

#3 Fair Elections Question

The Setup:

"The cost of running for office is out of control and gives a few wealthy and powerful individuals with enormous influence over elected officials through their ability to bundle massive campaign contributions.  The problem is pervasive in all federal elections. Senators Durbin and Specter have introduced a bill that would rid congressional elections of the corrupting influence of money: the Fair Elections Now Act. The bill would create a voluntary system of public funding to put voters back at the center of elections."

The Question:

"If you support a system of voluntary public funding of all federal elections and the Fair Elections Now Act, what will you do to ensure it becomes law if you are elected President? Or, if you are not in favor of this common sense reform, what are your other solutions to the corrupting influence of money in politics and the out-of-control cost of running for office?"

If you'd like more information, please contact Angela Canterbury at action@citizen.org (please put "bird-dog" in the subject line).

Tell your friends: we need people everywhere to get out and bird-dog the candidates!

 

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