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Make Your Laws
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*This* is what democracy looks like.
Introduction
Make Your Laws aims to eventually be an international scale replacement of legislatures, by enabling citizens to participate in online direct democracy (with transferrable proxies). It will bootstrap through existing legal mechanisms for direct action with teeth — ballot propositions and grassroots campaign financing.


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Today, the FEC released a new draft response to our request re. whether foreign nationals can contribute the IP resulting from their coding and designing services to us, and we submitted comments on the existing drafts. Both are @ https://makeyourlaws.org/fec/volunteer_ip#docs

It's open to public comment until March 4 at 5pm Eastern. If you want to comment on the record, just email ao@fec.gov, refer to AOR 2014-20, give your name, and clearly explain your position. It's currently scheduled for discussion at the March 5 open meeting, though that may be moved to March 6 or 10 depending on weather.
Should PACs be allowed to receive contributions of intellectual property from foreign nationals' volunteer services? AOR 2014-20 (original) / (FEC scan). Foreign nationals aren't allowed to contribute money (or other "things of value") to a political committee, but they are allowed to volunteer ...
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Here is our testimony before the FEC in the post-McCutcheon rulemaking hearing.
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Sai
 
+Max Powers Yes. Right now, my thought is that a system like heliosvoting.org or agoravoting.org uses is a better idea than blockchain based methods. You do have to depend on a central authority (the government) to authenticate someone's identity and authority to vote, but other than that, there are relatively good cryptographic ways of handling it.

Working on this in our long-term strategy (makeyourlaws.org/strategy), but not short-term.
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Recently Level the Playing Field (LPF) asked the FEC to change the rules for candidate debates. However, two parts of LPF's request were redacted by the FEC. MYL PAC submitted a FOIA request for the unredacted document.

Our initial request was denied because the redactions concerned an ongoing formal complaint filed with the FEC (a "Matter Under Review", or "MUR"). We administratively appealed that denial.

Today, the FEC responded to our appeal by reversing the denial and releasing the complete, unredacted request. (See below.)

The redacted portions referred to a MUR filed by LPF against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a privately run non-profit that has had a de facto monopoly on all major presidential debates since 1987. CPD is in effect run 50-50 by the Democratic and Republican parties, and has consistently excluded third party candidates from all national presidential candidate debates.

These debates are hugely important in who has a chance of being elected to high office, especially for president. LPF's rulemaking petition is a public proceeding to change how the debates are run to allow third party candidates a fair chance… yet LPF and CPD are commenting based on secret documents. We don't think that's fair, and it doesn't allow the public to make fully informed comments.

Therefore, we have filed a second FOIA request with the FEC asking for the release of all documents in the LPF v. CPD complaint. We also asked that the FEC publicly announce the release of the extra information and extend the period for public comment.

Here's what we've gotten so far (as well as CPD's and MYL PAC's public comments on the rulemaking petition):

Redacted LPF request: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/showpdf.htm?docid=306278
Unredacted LPF request: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/showpdf.htm?docid=312656 CPD's reply: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/showpdf.htm?docid=310982
Our reply: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/showpdf.htm?docid=310991


Redactions made to the original LPF request:

* p 14, after "sponsorship":

"For this reason, the CPD’s rule violates the existing rules on debate sponsorship, as detailed in a complaint that Petitioner has filed with the FEC. [27]"

and the footnote:

"[27] See Complaint of Level the Playing Field and Peter Ackerman against the Commission on Presidential Debates and its directors, filed with the Federal Election Commission simultaneous to the filing of this petition."

* p 175, fn 13, after "2014":

"[13] See Expert Report of Dr. Clifford Young, dated Sept. 5, 2014, submitted as an exhibit to the Complaint of Level the Playing Field and Peter Ackerman against the Commission on Presidential and its directors, filed with the Federal Election Commission."
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+Woozle Hypertwin Can put the redacted doc up again if needed, but the only changes are as listed here. (FEC confirmed.)
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After the McCutcheon decision eliminating biennial campaign contribution limits, the FEC is currently considering a very broad new rulemaking to amend its regulations and improve campaign finance disclosure. This is an opportunity to help pass significant campaign finance reform.*

I'm preparing formal comments and proposed regulatory changes on behalf of MYL PAC*, and welcome your feedback & suggestions for improvement on the attached draft.

You can submit your own comments @ http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/ -> "Submit Comments on Ongoing Rulemakings" -> REG 2014-01 -> "Add comment". *Deadline: Jan 15.* 

Full docs: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/ -> 2014 -> REG 2014-01
Main doc: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/showpdf.htm?docid=305653

* This has strict limits: amended regulations can't go beyond the scope of existing statutes and court decisions, and must get bipartisan support. (The FEC has 3 Democratic and 3 Republican appointees, and requires a vote of 4 to pass anything.)

If you're looking to overturn Citizens United, McCutcheon, etc., this is not the place to do so. Instead, try to think of how things could be improved within the existing system.

** https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LKGMcWXLyT2KndU6ZCHw0jO3LQLsAz_psPhPkfALMy0/
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Sai
 
+Woozle Hypertwin I've already put my ideas in the draft. :-P
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MEP Julia Reda is hosting a meetup on liquid democracy at Brussels (Nov. 29 - Dec 1), and I've been invited to attend. There's also a subsequent hackathon (Dec 2-3) where I'll be working on MYL.

If you'll be in the area or attending either event, please let me know. Looks like it'll be a very enjoyable and productive. :-)  - +Sai 
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Here's the audio from our discussion with the FEC about our advisory opinion request on foreign nationals' contribution of intellectual property resulting from volunteered services:

http://www.fec.gov/audio/2015/2015021202.mp3

See https://makeyourlaws.org/fec/volunteer_ip for more information.
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+Jeremy McMillan 1. See updated comments: https://makeyourlaws.org/fec/volunteer_ip#docs

2. Material goods are not always consumed in use. (Gold, e.g.)

They are generally exclusionary, though; that's pretty much the basis of all property rights, both real and intellectual. (IP of course is not intrinsically exclusionary, unlike a bike; it's only a legal monopoly.)

3. The idea of the exclusion is to prevent foreign money from affecting politician elections.

Foreign nationals are allowed to spend money to influence policy (even anonymously). They are also allowed to participate in elections if it's purely through volunteering their services. (I.e. so long as they're not contributing money or making an in-kind contribution to a campaign, etc.)

As one example — which you may or may not agree with — Sir Elton John, a foreign national, performed a benefit concert for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Her campaign paid for all of the costs involved, sold tickets, and kept the (very significant) revenue. Elton John wasn't paid for it, though his flight etc was paid for. The FEC ruled that that was OK.

I don't see much difference between that and selling Ai Wei Wei 3D prints, assuming the campaign pays for all the costs. They're both basically artistic services; it's irrelevant whether they sell tickets or prints.

4. Whether or not that should be US policy is not something MYL can take a stance on. It's not required for a well-functioning liquid democracy, so we're neutral on it.

We're just asking for this because, under current policy, foreign nationals are allowed to contribute services, but it's not clear whether we can own the IP to the code / art / whatnot, and we can't really accept the service unless we can own the result.

Purely a practical issue of open source collaboration.
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Just received: "Thank you for your request to testify at next week’s Commission hearing on REG 2014-01, Earmarking, Affiliation, Joint Fundraising, Disclosure, and Other Issues.  … The Commission is inviting you to testify for up to three minutes…"

Also, our AOR on volunteer contributions of IP (makeyourlaws.org/fec/volunteer_ip) is scheduled for Feb 12. (fec.gov/agenda/2015/agenda20150212.shtml)

So, it's official: I'll be testifying before the FEC twice next week. Whee.

Now to prepare a lightning talk on campaign money laundering…
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+AdmiralLadyPaula Rizzuto Just did. AOR video will be posted once it's available.
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The comments from the FEC's post-McCutcheon rulemaking are up. (See below to read 'em.*) There were a lot. (FWIW, we're still waiting to hear back on whether the FEC will approve our request to testify.)

More analysis to come, but here's a first pass at just counting.

* = request to testify (for batched, # individuals; for unbatched, some separate lines are a group)

Batched commenters:
8,383 independent individuals (* 7)
470 collected by Common Cause (* 7)
18,275 collected by the League of Women Voters

Plus, batched commenters by page (# individuals unknown yet)
3,565 pages independent individuals (* 1)
81 pages collected by Team Represent.US

And organizational commenters (not collapsed into batches):
ActBlue
* Bauer, Robert F., Esq.
Bayes, Michael, Esq.
Bell, Charles H., Jr., Esq.
* Brennan Center for Justice
* Briffault, Richard
Cairncross, Sean
California Emerging Technology Fund
California Forward
Campaign Finance Institute
* Campaign Legal Center
Campaign for Liberty
Center For Responsive Politics
* Center for Competitive Politics
Center for Democracy & Technology
* Chamber of Digital Commerce
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Colorado Ethics Watch
* Common Cause
Common Cause Mississippi
Common Cause New Mexico
Common Cause/NY
* Conservative Action Fund PAC
* Coolidge Reagan Foundation
* CounterPAC
* Democracy 21
Demos
Electronic Frontier Foundation
* Elliott, Lee Ann
* Free Speech Coalition, Inc.
* Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
* Freedom Partners Action Fund
* Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
* Grogan, Susan E.
* Holtzman, Jonathan
* Institute for Liberty
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Issue One
* James Madison Center for Free Speech
Josefiak, Thomas J., Esq.
* League of Women Voters
* Make Your Laws PAC, Inc.
* Mason, David M.
Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network
National Association of Business Political Action Committees ("NABPAC")
* Our Generation, Inc.
* Perkins Coie, LLP Political Law Group
* Program on Political Reform at New America
* ProtectMarriage.com
Public Citizen
* Republican National Committee
Republican National Lawyers Association
Sanderson, Matthew
* Smith, Bradley A.
* Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Campaign Legal Center
Then and Now Clearance Center
* Thrweatt, Terrence
Torchinsky, Jason, Esq.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
* U.S. Justice Foundation
* U.S. PIRG
Walchuck, Matthew
* Wold, Darryl R.
* von Spakovsky, Hans A.


* See http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/ -> 2014 -> REG 2014-01 (unfortunately, it can't be linked directly, though individual PDFs can)
Chronological Index · Citation Index · Citation Conversion Tables · Appendix to Conversion Tables. NOTE: Click here to see how far back the database currently goes and for other technical information regarding SERS. If you have any comments or questions about the SERS database, please e-mail the ...
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We just filed formal comments to the FEC's post-McCutcheon rulemaking. You can too — see below.  

We've recommended that the FEC:
1. Standardize contributor information and update the "cash" limitation.
- A. Standardize "name", "address", "occupation", and "employer".
- B. Require collection of full 11 CFR 100.12 identification for all contributions
- C. Prohibit anonymous contributions and generalize the provision for unidentified contributions
- D. Limit to $100 any contribution made in a difficult­ to­ trace medium of exchange.
2. Prohibit SSFs from accepting contributions outside their permitted solicitation class.
3. Eliminate the 501(c)(4) money laundering loophole.
4. Reform aggregate contribution limits to trace implicit earmarks using actual spending.
5. Require all large contributions and expenditures to be reported immediately.
6. Require committees to report the value of their non-­monetary assets.
7. Require committees to report the number of unitemized contributions and expenditures.
8. Define the term "direct costs of fundraising".

Hopefully, the FEC will adopt our proposals — # 1 and 3 being the most important.

These proposals would make campaign finance disclosure more robust — and critically, stop the $257 million in political money laundering that happened in the 2012 election cycle alone (and which is expected to increase).


You can file a comment yourself — and we encourage you to do so.

Just go to http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/ -> "Submit Comments on Ongoing Rulemakings" -> "add comment" on REG 2014-01. DEADLINE: January 15 (end of day, Eastern time).


Take a look at the documents listed there to understand the context of the rulemaking, and about the McCutcheon decision at http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/McCutcheon.shtml — reading the Supreme Court's opinion (linked there) for yourself is worthwhile.

You can read our full proposal at the link: https://makeyourlaws.org/files/2015-01-14%20MYL%20PAC%20comment%20on%20McCutcheon%20rulemaking.pdf
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Our new FEC AOR 2014-20: Can PACs receive contributions of IP from foreign nationals' volunteer services?

https://makeyourlaws.org/fec/volunteer_ip
Should PACs be allowed to receive contributions of intellectual property from foreign nationals' volunteer services? AOR 2014-20 (original) / (FEC scan). Foreign nationals aren't allowed to contribute money (or other "things of value") to a political committee, but they are allowed to volunteer ...
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Due to the recent POODLE vulnerability in SSL version 3 (see https://www.imperialviolet.org/2014/10/14/poodle.html), makeyourlaws.org no longer supports SSLv3 — and therefore does not support IE6, because there is no way to do so without compromising the security of everyone else. IE6 users are now redirected to quirksmode.org/upgrade.html.
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Finally moved makeyourlaws.org to a new server. Will take a little while for DNS to propagate. Wiki & tor HS are down for now pending some load & security testing, but will bring back up later. Added various things while I was at, though — SPDY 3.1 support, upgraded a bunch of stuff, x64, ubuntu trusty, 2x more RAM, etc. etc. 

Ugh, sysadmin work. This is so not my comfort zone. >< OTOH, Ansible is fairly neat. Hopefully enough that it's a "script this in exhaustive detail once, then don't deal with it again" kind of deal.
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