Citizen-Funded Ads Take on Senators for Siding with Big Polluters

Our crew here at 350.org and our friends at CREDO Mobile are trying something new this week to turn up the heat on politicians that take money from fossil fuel companies and then vote against public health and the environment. It's something we've never done before — a bit of an experiment in grassroots organizing — and we'd love your feedback (and participation!)

You may have heard that a number of Senators recently voted to gut the Clean Air Act, a move that threatens the health of our communities and the environment. You may have signed petitions to express your disappointment or even made phone calls to your Senator's office. But maybe you felt that your phone calls and petitions didn't break through — after all, legislative staff are trained to expect a few phone calls and signatures from disgruntled constituents. That's not to say that calls can't make a difference, but in terms of holding our politicians accountable for their bad votes, maybe there's a better way to make an impact?

This week, we're experimenting with a new way of holding politicians accountable: getting constituents to band together to crowd-fund an ad that connects the bad vote their Senator took on the Clean Air Act with the money he or she accepted from big polluters.

We're starting with two Senators, Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Both Browns recently voted to gut the Clean Air Act. And both have received the support of big polluters, Scott to the tune of $1,907,988 and Sherrod a whopping $3,464,689. Like many of you, our crew here at 350.org has come to the conclusion that without tackling this dirty money we can't tackle the climate crisis. So, our graphic designer whipped up the ads below to draw the connection between that dirty money and the dirty votes both Senators took in Congress:

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If we can raise $12,000 from our supporters in the next week (you can help by donating to the Scott Brown effort here), we'll put up the ads in both Ohio and Massachusetts. We've even found an environmentally conscious way to do it. In Cleveland, we've contacted a group that pulls ads around the city on bicycles so that they'll be relatively carbon free and sure to show up at Sherrod Brown's district offices, as well as popular spots around the city. In Boston, we'll put the ads up in the subway to remind voters riding public transit that their Senator is voting against environmental regulations the majority of people support.

To be honest, we're a little nervous about this project–it's an experiment for us. Many people say that with the rise of "clicktivism", people will click to sign a petition, but are no longer willing to put their money (and their time) where their mouth is. We know the economy is in rough shape right now, but we hope that this experiment proves that people throughout Massachusetts, Ohio, and across the country still care enough to do more than click.

Our Senators are gleefully accepting the support of millions of dollars from dirty energy companies and their corporate front groups like the US Chamber of Commerce. Maybe they think no one would notice or care. Or maybe they just think we're too apathetic to do anything about it.

We hope to show them that corporations aren't the only ones who can team up and buy some ads. With the right tools and a bit of motivation, citizens can make an impact too. Look, we're never going to have the money of the fossil fuel industry. But with a bit of creativity — and a lot of organizing — we can fight back. Here's where you can help.

 

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