A Message from Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director

Rising for the Amazon

A Message from Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director

Twenty years ago I traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon and my life was forever changed. As a volunteer at theJatún Sacha Biological Station, I learned the basics of tropical ecology and became quickly fascinated by the interconnectedness of all life. I alsowitnessed the devastation caused by oil spills, firing me up to take action and to design a campaign at Amazon Watch seeking to pressure Chevron to clean up its toxic legacy in the rainforest. In 2010, I returned as Program Director, overseeing the organization’s campaigns to defend the Amazon and advance indigenous rights.Today, I am honored to step up as Executive Director. I accept this responsibility with great passion and commitment to our work, our partners and our phenomenal network of supporters around the world. I am humbled and inspired to lead this organization at a critical time for the Amazon, indigenous peoples’ rights and the global climate crisis.


Money Money Money


On the First Anniversary of McCutcheon v. FEC, Activists Call for Action on Money in Politics

Today marks the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC that removed restrictions on how much individuals can spend in political races each cycle. This decision was seen as the sequel to Citizens United. Prior to the court’s decision in McCutcheon, individual donors could contribute a maximum of $123,200 in any two-year election cycle. Now, the wealthiest few individuals are allowed to give as much as an aggregate $5.9 million to candidates and political parties each election cycle— drowning out the influence of regular citizens even more than they are already were with the Citizens United ruling.

In conjunction with the anniversary of the McCutcheon decision, money-in-politics activists from groups around the country, including CAP’s Vice President of Legal Progress Michele Jawando, held a press conference today in front of the White House calling on the President to issue an executive order requiring contractors that do business with the government to disclose their political spending. Organizers also delivered a petition to the White House with over 500,000 signatures in support of the executive order. As a part of the movement, rallies and events are scheduled to be held in 55 cities and towns across 30 states. Follow along at #BetterPolitics and #GetMoneyOut.

An executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political spending is an important first step in blunting the influence of big money in our political system. Here’s what you need to know about what this executive order would look like:

Why do we need an executive order? Voters deserve to know who is trying to influence our political leaders. Dark money is a problem no matter where it comes from, but it is especially concerning coming from government contractors who the government relies on for many critical services like defense supplies, infrastructure repairs, and environmental protections.

How would an executive order help? If the President were to issue an executive order, citizens would be able to see which elected officials benefit the most from government contractors, making it easier to see whether those same officials sought to influence the contracting process on behalf of their supporters.

What else could be done? The best long-term solution to the problems that come along with dark money would be Congress passing legislation requiring campaign finance disclosure for all political spenders. But in Congress’s current state of gridlock, that fix doesn’t seem imminent.

In the meantime, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) also has an important role to play in repairing some of the damage done by Citizens United. A recent petition for the SEC to require corporations to disclose their political spending has seen broad, bipartisan support and a record-breaking over one million comments in support— but so far, the SEC has done nothing. A new campaign has launched calling for SEC chair Mary Jo White to take action on this issue, including releasing a video and blanketing DC’s Union Station with comic-book style ads depicting Mary Jo White as the superhero who can save us from dark money— if she answers the call and takes action on this crucial issue. Add your voice at #WhereIsMJW.

BOTTOM LINE: Due to the Supreme Court’s decisions in McCutcheon and Citizens United, a few wealthy individuals and corporations have an outsized influence in our political process. And there are a few common sense steps that can be taken now to help ensure that every person’s voice is heard—not just the wealthy few.


Right now in Washington, fair access to affordable birth control doesn’t exist and it’s going to get worse. Everyone deserves fair access, no matter who we are or where we live.Long acting reversible contraception (LARCs, such as IUDs and implants) are the most effective birth control methods, with a failure rate of less than 1%. Unfortunately, unfair reimbursement rates from Medicaid drive the lowest income women toward less effective methods. This leaves providers with the impossible choice of either offering LARCs or closing health centers. WA LARC 2015

This means that the lowest income Washington women have unequal access to the best contraceptives available. Women should be able to choose the birth control method that works best for them, without interference from the government.

The legislature can fix this problem. Send a message, share your story, and urge your representatives to include Medicaid access to IUDs and implants in the budget!

Washington could save significant money on unintended pregnancies by ensuring all women have access to the most effective birth control method they choose to use. In fact, it’s estimated that fair access to LARCs saves the state a net $8 million annually by preventing associated pregnancy costs. Over time these savings would grow while costs fall as more women stay on LARC and transition off other methods.

We’ve seen what increased access to LARCs has meant for other states. In Colorado, the teen birth rate dropped 40% between 2009 and 2014.* Providing IUDs and implants at little or no cost saved their state over $40 million in the same time frame. This is a clear model for the future that we can achieve in Washington.

Contact your elected representatives and let them know that you support fair access to birth control for everyone. My health, my life, no matter what.

IUDs and implants are more effective than other forms of birth control, and save the state more money in the long-term. It just make sense.

Thank you,

Jennifer Allen
Director of Public Policy
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest