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I want my children to have a chance to enjoy their freedoms…right now I’m not convinced they will

My family’s roots in the Old Dominion go back to 1629 on my mother’s side and 1656 on my father’s; to say I have Virginia’s best interest at heart would be an understatement given the blood that runs through my veins.

Where we Virginians find ourselves in November 2019 is a nightmare. We must do everything in our power to wake up.

To begin with, I do not believe Virginians are guaranteed free, fair and secure elections in 2020 and beyond. There is no evidence that we are effectively combatting the problems facing our national and state elections and we must, absolutely must, win this fight. Our system of self-government only works if we the people choose our representatives. We cannot have foreign nations and other actors interfering in our elections. 

I want my children to have a chance to enjoy the freedom for which their ancestors crossed the Atlantic centuries ago, and right now I’m not convinced they will.

There are several election security bills before Congress right now that would help ensure that our elections are secure. Senators Kaine and Warner should support measures such as the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (SAFE Act), Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (DETER Act), Duty to Report Act, and the Honest Ads Act to ensure our elections are secure.

But that is not enough. We must also address the abuses of power and threats to our country that are coming from within our own government.

My career has allowed me the great honor to work in multiple offices in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.  If at any point during my career I had seen something unethical, which I never did, I would have surely stepped up and properly reported what I saw with the assurance that other patriotic civil servants working for our country would help right a wrong. 

But right now, the administration is publicly threatening retaliation against a civil servant who had the courage to speak up. When he/she was alerted to the improper conduct by the president urging a foreign government to help investigate a political rival, this whistleblower followed all the proper protocols and does not deserve to be threatened by our government for doing their job.

 

If we don’t protect this whistleblower are we are creating a precedent so that future Americans and Virginians, patriotic to the core, will not be allowed to speak up if they see something amiss? 

This stands against what our Commonwealth was founded upon and against how I want to raise my children.  My ancestors left Europe for a better future in Virginia where my family has been blessed to live ever since, and I do not take this blessing for granted.  We must protect our civil servants’ abilities to serve our country well by protecting the rights of those willing to speak up.  

When future generations of Virginians are reading their history books, or whatever mode they’ll be learning from in schools one day, we must ensure they understand the protection afforded to those who step up and do the right thing when they see something is wrong. 

From personal experience teaching English in German schools as a Fulbright scholar, I know the repercussions of generations down the line that suffer from the “what if” question about the actions of their ancestors.  Our grandchildren one day will learn about the events of 2019 and will look back to us and ask what we did to protect our country; to protect our freedom. We have the opportunity now to act in a way that ensures we can be proud of the legacy we leave, that is: we can and should ensure that speaking up is a right that is protected. 

It’s not too late to be able to proudly answer our grandchildren that we righted a wrong when we saw it.  We recognized the threat to our democracy and we stopped it. We understood the implications at risk and we acted upon them.  We owe it to future Virginians so that they don’t have to look back at our generation as a turning point and wonder “what if.”


Lynne Sade is a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Stand Up Republic.  She is a Virginia native with experience serving the U.S. government as a Fulbright grantee and civil servant. She lives in the Charlottesville area with her husband and two children.

Senate Republicans Refuse to Secure our Elections

This week, Senate Republicans blocked five measures that would have strengthened our electoral system and protected it from foreign interference. These bills are critically important to the betterment of our democracy and Senate Republicans refuse to even consider their merits. The American people deserve to understand these bills, why they are so significant, and the lack of reasoning behind the moves to block them from becoming law.


The Honest Ads Act: This bill would require online platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to publicly disclose who pays for political ads, similar to disclosures that are required on TV ads. This measure also ensures that these platforms are making all reasonable efforts to block foreign entities from buying political ads in America. The Kremlin’s main strategy to infiltrate our election in 2016 occurred on sites like Facebook and the result, as we have seen, was incredibly damaging. Foreign actors spreading disinformation online is a threat to our democracy and requiring greater transparency of online advertisements is a simple way to protect the American people from the influence of hostile foreign actors.


Election Security Act: This measure would give states $1 billion for election security efforts and require backup paper ballots. The argument against this bill was that the level of funding was excessive. But experts predict that far more funds are needed to make sure our system is secure. In a country where everyone should have the right to choose their representatives, what could be more fundamental than allocating funds to protect their right to vote? Others argued that there were no security issues in 2018, but that’s also not quite accurate. There may be no cases of votes being changed by hacking, there’s plenty of evidence that hackers are probing ways to control our democracy, and we have to stay ahead of them to stay secure. 


Duty to Report Act: This legislation would require campaign officials to report contacts with foreign nationals who are trying to make donations or coordinate with the campaign to the Federal Election Commission and FBI. In 2016, individuals acting on behalf of the Russian government successfully held meetings with the Trump campaign and President Trump has said publicly that he’s open to receiving foregn help in 2020. Without a legal requirement to report foreign influence operations, campaigns may be tempted to seek foreign help or turn a blind eye to attacks on our democracy. This bill would also help our intelligence agencies gather information on foreign government’s attempts to influence our elections.


SAFE Act: The Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, or SAFE Act, protects U.S. elections by improving election security and increasing financial support to modernize and secure voting systems. States will be eligible for grants to replace their current voting systems with new, modern voting systems, compatible with paper ballots and ranked-choice voting. The penetration of two Florida voting systems by Russian agents in 2016 underscores the fragility of our elections and the present danger to U.S. democracy. The U.S. must take steps to improve election security and protect our country from foreign interference. Foreign adversaries were successful in 2016 and our intelligence agencies have warned that we are at risk of future attacks.


SHIELD Act: Similar to the Duty to Report Act, this bill requires campaign to report any illicit offers of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission. It also requires campaigns to take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio. This bill would ensure the protection of our election hardware and infrastructure but also protects the American people from the types of pervasive disinformation campaigns that were so prevalent in 2016. 


Our elections are the hallmark of our democratic republic. They are the means by which we assert our rights to self-governance, and they are crucial to our continued liberty. These bills are by no means a silver bullet to secure our elections. But they are a strong foundation for credible, fair, and independent elections. It’s clear that the president isn’t interested in closing loopholes and vulnerabilities that he views as favorable to his re-election. But Congressional Republicans shouldn’t accept his deliberate weakening of our democratic institutions.


So if you have a moment, please click here to email your representatives in Congress to demand they take action to protect our elections and your right to vote.

Declare Your Support for the Impeachment Inquiry

Are you a Republican, conservative, or independent who supports the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry? The country needs to hear from you. For too long, the president and his enablers in Congress have painted this investigation into his wrong-doing as a partisan trick. But we know better. The president, often working through his personal political operative and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has abused his power to solicit the help of foreign governments for his re-election. What’s worse, we know he won’t stop unless he faces real consequences. 

But too many elected Republicans are scared to cross the president, and they won’t change their minds unless they know that we citizens demand it of them. That’s why we’ve put together a tool kit to declare your independence from partisanship and publicly announce your support for the impeachment inquiry. All you need to do is pick the sign or graphic that you best identify with, and share a picture of it on your social media accounts (be sure to use the hashtag #SupportTheInquiry). Or even better, take your sign to the streets whenever you join a public political demonstration, and share pictures of yourself proudly supporting the impeachment inquiry. If enough of us make these public declarations, we can shatter the wall of protection behind which the president is hiding his corruption. Will you help us take the movement nationwide?

#SupportTheInquiry

SIGNS (13″ x 19″):


TWITTER & FB GRAPHICS:


INSTAGRAM:

 

URGENT ACTION: Your voice is needed in West Jordan, Utah

An impeachment inquiry is a political remedy that should never be taken lightly. But given mounting evidence of presidential abuse of power and corruption, the House of Representatives has no choice but to proceed. Now, the president’s campaign is scrambling to cover it up and silence the voices who are standing up to the president.

The Trump campaign is pushing supporters to protest at Rep. Ben McAdams’ office in West Jordan on Wednesday 10/9/19 in an attempt to silence his support for the impeachment inquiry.
But Stand Up Republic believes that leaders should always be accountable, and finding the truth about issues raised by multiple whistleblowers is essential to protecting our democracy. 
That’s why we’re inviting all Stand Up Republic Utah members to join Salt Lake Indivisible and other concerned citizens for a peaceful counter-demonstration in support of the inquiry:

Wednesday, October 9th 2019 at 12:30 pm
9067 S. 1300 West
Suite #101
West Jordan, UT 84088

When our elected leaders take courageous action, it’s our duty as citizens to show that we appreciate it. Help us prove to the entire Utah delegation that Utahns stand up for democracy and accountability.

We flooded Capitol Hill

Safeguarding our votes is critical to safeguarding our freedom. And this doesn’t happen without citizens taking action to ensure government acts responsibly to protect free and fair elections. That’s why last week Stand Up Republic members from across the country joined together in Washington, DC to demand their representatives in Congress secure our elections.

On the first day, participants in the second annual SUR Hill Days trained to become citizen activists for election security. They learned directly from experts in the field, and practiced making their pitches for protecting election systems and ensuring political ad transparency.


Then Stand Up Republic advocates flooded the Hill. They held more than 60 meetings with Senate and Congressional offices and members from across the country, passionately advocating for bills that would safeguard our vote in 2020 and beyond.

That’s a priority every member of Congress should share.


Still, there was some pushback. Reform is always difficult. It depends on dedicated citizens who are eager to work to improve and strengthen their country. Fortunately, there are plenty of patriotic Americans eager to do just that, by building a cross-partisan coalition for democracy.

Hill Days participants loved having the chance to collaborate with like-minded Americans from across the nation. And their dedication laid the groundwork for protecting and strengthening our elections in the future.


Now we must keep pressing. Advocacy must be ongoing, not only once a year. After all, how can your representative serve you, if they never hear your voice? So pick up a phone or write an email. However you do it, make sure your representatives hear from you. Be part of the movement to protect America’s elections.

And if you couldn’t make it this year, we hope to see you next year when we take our ‘grassroots lobby for democracy’ back to Congress to accomplish even more.

What we Learned from Trump’s Ukraine Call

Trump swore it was a perfect call. He said we’d be embarrassed for making a big deal out of it. But the only embarrassment is the shame we feel at a president who is flaunting his own corruption and lawlessness. 

After releasing the official notes about his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy and parts of the whistleblower’s complaint, America finally got to see how much further he’ll go to get foreign governments to help his re-election. First, let’s look at the timeline:


What are the most notable facts we’ve discovered?

Quid Pro Quo – Everyone’s focused on whether or not there was a quid pro quo – or an explicit offer to exchange US aid for dirt on Biden. Was there one? Yes, even if some of Trump’s defenders want to ignore it. What did it look like?
                Trump begins by stressing that Ukraine depends on US aid, but warns that the support isn’t “reciprocal.”
                Zelenskiy says “we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
                Trump replies “I would like you to do us a favor though.”
That’s a quid pro quo. Zelenskiy says what he needs from the US, and Trump responds by demanding something in return.

Corruption – The ensuing conversation is a list of corrupt demands, from the removal of an ambassador Trump dislikes, to an investigation into “Joe Biden’s son.” That last demand seems to be Trump’s most urgent, as he continues to insist that Zelenskiy talk to Rudy Giuliani who publicly admits to pressing for the fake story. Trump even goes so far as to praise the fired prosecutor at the heart of the story, a prosecutor who was widely criticized for corruption and whom multiple countries and organizations demanded be fired.

Conspiracies – One of several odd demands the president made was to look into an American cybersecurity company that Trump seems to believe is owned by a Ukranian (it isn’t). The reason? Because he again falsely believes that Hillary Clinton’s emails are in a server there. It’s just another wild, fictitious conspiracy that the president wants pushed so that he can deny Russian agents hacked the DNC and discredit the facts of the Mueller Report.

Giuliani – Zelenskiy actually brings up the president’s personal attorney. Giuliani has reached out to Ukrainian officials already. Rudy has acknowledged as such, and admitted that it was to pressure the country to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden. Trump then tells Zelenskiy to continue talking to Giuliani, who has no official job in the government and no power other than what the president is willing to do at his request. This kind of back-channel is designed to avoid accountability and allow nakedly corrupt demands to be made behind the American peoples’ backs.

Timing – The call took place the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony about the Trump campaign’s corrupt foreign dealings and Trump’s personal obstruction of justice. Trump even references Mueller in the call. Clearly, he views the lack of any serious consequences for his previous crimes as a blank check to do worse in 2020, which is why we can’t let him get away with it again.

Obstruction of Justice – We know from the Mueller Report that the president has no problem obstructing justice. He certainly didn’t hesitate to do it again. The whistleblower tells us that the transcript of the president’s call was considered so politically damaging, that it was inappropriately classified at the highest level to keep it’s details hidden. What’s worse, the complaint alleges that the administration has done this with a lot of political documents, turning America’s national security institutions into a personal vault to hide criminally and politically damning information. Acting DNI Maguire himself today laid it out plainly: “there is an allegation of a cover-up.”

There’s quite a bit more to be unraveled, but the case is straightforward: The president used his power, and the power of our country, to demand a foreign government help him defeat his leading political rival, and then hid that conversation to protect himself. That is corruption, pure and simple.

No matter how long it takes for us to learn the full truth, we cannot let the president get away with his brazen corruption. Congress must pursue this and other allegations in their impeachment inquiry, reporting the facts to the American people. So far, only one party has proven willing to earnestly investigate this criminality. But every member of Congress should be concerned, and every American should take it seriously.

Stand Up Republic certainly won’t stop pursuing the truth.

You Called for an Impeachment Inquiry, It Worked

Today, the House majority announced the formal initiation of an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States. While it is deeply unfortunate that such a step is necessary, we are pleased that Congress finally appears to be rising to the responsibility it bears to uphold the Constitution and exercise oversight of the executive branch.

Stand Up Republic was one of the first national cross-partisan organizations to mobilize support for this step in response to repeated abuses of power by the President. It was a heavy decision, based on direct evidence from the Mueller Report and elsewhere of criminality, obstruction, and corruption. But even more worrisome than the President’s history of breaking the law for his own enrichment and power, was the possibility that he would engage in more and worse abuses of power if not held accountable, putting our liberty in grave danger.

That’s why we asked every Stand Up Republic member to join us in demanding that the House of Representatives take a stand for the rule of law and open an impeachment inquiry. You answered the call, flooding your representatives with phone calls and emails. Already, those efforts have paid off as several members of Congress slowly gained the courage to do their duty.

The flood gates on that slow progress burst wide open today. Just as we warned, the President took his lawless self-interest even further than before, attempting to extort a foreign government into helping his personal campaign. For the members in Congress who heard from SUR supporters, but still hesitated to act, this latest scandal finally showed them that we were right, and that the President must be held to account for his illegal and unamerican acts. 

The House majority’s announcement that a formal impeachment inquiry is now underway, is an appropriate first step in defending the rule of law and the Constitution. This is Congress’ obligation. But even in the face of wanton lawlessness, they’ve been afraid to take such a monumental step. Now they’ve heard our voices, they know what we expect of them. 

And with the President’s latest transgressions against America’s free elections and the healthy limits of presidential authority, they finally understand why we cannot wait. Stand Up Republic’s national membership was essential in conveying that message to Congress. And we will be no less vocal in shaping the impeachment inquiry and ensuring it moves ahead without bias or delay, but always in pursuit of facts, justice and liberty for all.

That, after all, is exactly what the rule of law is all about. And with your help, we will make sure Congress does its constitutional duty to the fullest.

BREAKING: McConnell Agrees to Election Security Funding

After nearly 3 years of delay, denial, and distraction, our efforts to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to secure America’s elections has scored another victory. He announced today that he will finally allow the Senate to vote on $250 million in new election security funding.

Despite overwhelming evidence that our democracy is under assault by foreign actors, McConnell has routinely blocked efforts to protect and improve our election systems.

In the face of his obstruction, Stand Up Republic has led the fight to pressure McConnell and other Senate Republicans to act. Your phone calls, emails, and advocacy have made the Senate’s inaction untenable. This new, small step towards more secure elections is a direct result of your dedication and advocacy.

And now, with momentum on our side, the fight continues until the threats to our elections have been fully addressed. 

As it stands, McConnell continues to block bipartisan bills that would make political ads more transparent, punish foreign adversaries who attack our elections, and finally create a legal obligation for campaign officials to report foreign efforts to interfere in our campaigns.

That’s why we’re convening a delegation of Stand Up Republic members from across the nation in Washington next week. Your fellow Stand Up Republic members will get trained and equipped to make their voice heard, and then head to Capitol Hill for dozens of meetings with House and Senate offices to demand support for critical measures to secure our elections. 

Election security cannot be an afterthought and cannot be taken for granted. There’s no better way to keep it on the forefront of Congress’ minds than to hear directly from their constituents.

So even if you won’t be with us in Washington for Hill Days, we ask you to join our efforts. Call your representatives and demand they take action now to secure our elections.

McConnell’s reluctant embrace of further election security funding proves how effective we can be when we come together to demand action. But we cannot settle for half-measures or the bare minimum. So let’s keep the pressure on, until we know that our elections are safe from interference.

Statement on the North Carolina 9th District Special Election

Last night’s special election in the historically Republican 9th district of North Carolina is a sign of rapidly shifting political winds. More and more, voters are putting their partisan interests aside and voting their values first. Bishop’s narrow win in a district the president won by 12 points proves that Republicans, Independents, and Democrats are coming together in a cross-partisan coalition to stand up for unifying and accountable leadership.


Across the country, people of all backgrounds and beliefs are standing up for their freedom, changing the political landscape by putting country over party and rejecting the politics of partisanship first. Dan Bishop may have won last night’s election, but the narrow margin should put every politician on notice: Americans will not accept fraud, divisiveness, and manipulation. People are looking for leaders who will represent them, not put partisan political interests first. In the coming elections, Stand Up Republic will continue build this cross-partisan bloc of voters to demand a healthier, more accountable politics in America.

Help End the Abuse of Emergency Powers

Throughout his presidency, Trump has continually threatened to expand his power, declaring national emergencies and ignoring constitutional limitations.

Last week alone, Trump made a stunning Twitter declaration that American companies are “hereby ordered” to find alternatives to China, and reportedly promised preemptive pardons for anyone willing to break the law in order to build his wall at the southern border.

Now, the Department of Defense has begun diverting funds away from their congressionally approved construction programs, sacrificing military needs for Trump’s pet political project.

How does Trump justify his abuses of power? By citing The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) of 1977, which authorizes a president to regulate international commerce in the event of a national emergency. Laws like IEEPA, enacted since the 1970s, effectively give the executive branch powers that constitutionally belong to the legislature, in order to respond to immediate emergencies.

But Trump is stretching these powers beyond what the laws and the constitution ever envisioned, declaring anything an emergency in order to seize more power. He is circumventing the legislative branch by reallocating funds without congressional approval, and despite the fact that Congress has repeatedly refused to give him the full funding he demanded.

It’s hardly the first time he’s invented emergencies that only he could solve with authoritarian zeal. But there’s a larger issue: this president thinks he is all-powerful, and Congress continues to surrender its power to the executive, sacrificing its ability to check this or future presidents that may abuse their power.

If Congress doesn’t protect its constitutional authorities and the balance of power, America may realize the founders’ greatest fear: an unaccountable and unstoppable executive.

That’s why Stand Up Republic is working with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to reform national emergency powers and reclaim Congress’ constitutional authority. For the sake of our country, we must rebalance the powers of government, reinforcing the separation of powers and checks and balances, as our founders intended.

We cannot let partisan interests or petty in-fighting stand in the way of strengthening the guardrails of our republic. These reforms are essential in protecting the balance of powers which give citizens control over our government. If Congress doesn’t take action now, this president and any successor – of either party – would feel empowered to override Congress and the people to pursue their own personal agendas.

No one person should ever have that power in America. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that our power as citizens is preserved, by strengthening that of our representatives in Congress, who remain most accountable to us.