Non-profit

Voters Not Politicians (VNP)

Website:

votersnotpoliticians.com

Location:

Lansing, MI, United States

Tax ID:

82-1389940

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $523,823
Expenses: $323,873
Assets: $244,596

Formation:

2016

Founder and Former Executive Director:

Katie Fahey

Voters Not Politicians (VNP) is a Michigan-based lobbying and political advocacy group affiliated with the nonprofit Count MI Vote that formed in 2016 for the purpose of changing the way political district boundaries are drawn for the Michigan state legislature and for congressional representation. [1]

VPN organized a successful petition drive to place a proposed state constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot (Proposal 2 of 2018) that created a new process of drawing political district maps following each decennial U.S. census.  The proposal would replace the existing process of political district boundaries being drawn by state legislators with a new redistricting commission consisting of citizens from both political parties and self-declared independents. Proposal 2 was approved by voters on November 6, 2016 by a 61% – 39% margin. [2] The proposal was supported and funded substantially left-leaning groups such as the Action Now Initiative; SEIU UHW-West, a California-based local of the Service Employees International Union; and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, part of the Arabella Advisors “dark money” network. [3]

Following the success of Proposal 2, VNP expanded their platform to include working to implement Proposal 2, exploring proposals to weaken Michigan’s constitutional limit on the number of terms state lawmakers can serve, and enact other state constitutional and legislative changes. [4] [5]

VNP’s success changing Michigan’s redistricting process has been embraced by left-leaning groups who believe similar efforts can be replicated in other states to enhance chances of Democratic Party candidates winning elections. [6] [7]

History

Environmentalist activist and Michigan resident Katie Fahey founded Voters Not Politicians in 2016 to change the way political district lines are drawn. [8] Her effort began as a grassroots social media campaign but grew into a $14 million campaign to amend the state constitution that attracted money and support from traditional Democratic Party supporters and opposition from Republican Party supporters. [9] [10]

The largest contributions to VNP’s constitutional amendment campaign were left-progressive groups including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Action Now Initiative, the SEIU United Healthcare Workers union, and the National Education Association teachers’ union. [11] Other substantial donors to VNP with left-leaning missions include environmentalist campaigners Quadrivium Foundation and the Green Advocacy Project, the Beckwith Constitutional Liberties Fund, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee founded by Obama administration U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and backed by former President Barack Obama. [12] [13]

VNP was able to out-spend opponents of the ballot proposal by a 5-1 margin and was criticized by Republican opponents of the proposal for accepting out-of-state “dark money” that conceals the sources of funding. [14] Examples include support for VNP from the Democracy Initiative, which is supported by left-of-center funding sources like the Tides Foundation,[15] and from Sixteen Thirty Fund, which is part of the Arabella Advisors network of left-of-center “dark money” front groups. [16]

Critics of VPN’s stated nonpartisan nature also pointed out that VPN hired pollsters and consultants with longstanding ties to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. [17]

Impact

State legislatures are generally the legal authority that re-draws political district lines after every decennial U.S. Census, resulting in states under Democratic Party political control typically drawing new district lines favorable to Democrats and those under Republican control favoring Republicans. [18]

In 2018, efforts funded primarily by Democratic Party-aligned groups succeeded in removing state lawmakers from the redistricting process through ballot initiatives in Michigan, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah. [19]

Current Activities

Repealing Term Limits

Voters Not Politicians is engaged in discussions with Republican and Democratic state-level elected officials and interest groups in Michigan seeking to change Michigan’s constitutional term limits for state representatives and senators. [20]

The possible coalition to allow state legislators to stay in office for additional terms includes VNP, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the leaders of Michigan’s state House and Senate. [21] [22]

Michigan’s constitutional limit on politicians’ terms in office was approved by voters in 1992 and has often been targeted by incumbent lawmakers and lobbying organizations seeking to extend the number of terms legislators can stay in office. [23]

VNP states they are evaluating supporting a ballot drive to extend term limits in conjunction with other “good government reforms” such as additional restrictions on elected officials becoming registered lobbyists after leaving office. [24]

Implementation of Redistricting Changes

Voters Not Politicians is facilitating town hall-style meetings throughout Michigan to explain the new state redistricting procedure spearheaded by VNP and to encourage citizens to apply to become members of the newly-created, 13-member redistricting commission. [25] [26] [27] Under Proposal 2, citizens would apply to be selected to serve on a redistricting commission comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five who self-identify as unaffiliated with a political party. Partisan officeholders and their employees, certain relatives and lobbyists could not serve on the panel. [28]

People

Katie Fahey founded Voters Not Politicians in 2016 and was executive director. Fahey left VNP in 2019 to become executive director of The People, a national nonprofit with a stated purpose of promoting bipartisan civil discourse and reforms. [29] [30] She was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign[31] and an environmentalist activist before forming VNP. [32]

According to a 2017 Detroit News story, seven of 10 board members of VNP’s petition committee gave a combined $5,649 to Democratic candidates and causes since 2005 and none gave to Republicans or third-party candidates, causing opponents of the VNP ballot proposal to challenge VNP’s assertion they were a nonpartisan organization. [33]

References

  1. Voters Not Politicians. “About”. Votersnotpoliticians.com. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://votersnotpoliticians.com/about/ ^
  2. Egan, Paul. “Michigan’s anti-gerrymandering proposal is approved. Now what?”. Detroit Free Press. November 7, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/07/proposal-2-anti-gerrymandering-michigan/1847402002/ ^
  3. Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “Who funded statewide ballot campaigns?”. “Voters Not Politicians”. mcfn.org. Accessed November 14, 2019.  http://mcfn.org/ballotproposals#VotersNot ^
  4. Melinn, Kyle. “Voters Not Politicians working on expanding term limits in Michigan”. Lansing City Pulse. October 24, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/breakthrough-coalition-working-on-expanding-term-limits,13454 ^
  5. Taylor, Caitlyn. “Voters Not Politicians asks community for campaign ideas”. The Monroe News. April 5, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.monroenews.com/news/20190405/voters-not-politicians-asks-community-for-campaign-ideas ^
  6. Piper, Jessica. “State redistricting a target for ‘dark money’ after Supreme Court ruling”. Open Secrets News. OpenSecrets.org. June 28, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/06/gerrymandering-a-target-for-dark-money-after-scotus/ ^
  7. Kirkland, Allegra. “New Progressive Redistricting Coalition Forms With Eyes On Just Nine States”. Talking Points Memo. Talkingpointsmemo.com. April 30, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/grassroots-redistricting-project-forms-2020 ^
  8. Beggin, Riley. “Katie Fahey of Voters Not Politicians to Take Michigan Model National.” Bridge Magazine, August 1, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/katie-fahey-voters-not-politicians-take-michigan-model-national. ^
  9. Oosting, Jonathan. “‘Nonpartisan’ redistricting board has partisan ties”. Detroit News. August 31, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/31/voters-politicians-petition-committee/105151114/ ^
  10. Beggin, Riley. “Michigan redistricting group brings in whopping $13.9 million”. Bridge. October 26, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-redistricting-group-brings-whopping-139-million ^
  11. Beggin, Riley. “Michigan redistricting group brings in whopping $13.9 million”. Bridge. October 26, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-redistricting-group-brings-whopping-139-million ^
  12. Beggin, Riley; VanHulle, Lindsay. “Michigan Proposal 2 redistricting group defends dark money as fighting fire with fire”. November 1, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-proposal-2-redistricting-group-defends-dark-money-fighting-fire-fire ^
  13. Piper, Jessica. “State redistricting a target for ‘dark money’ after Supreme Court ruling”. Open Secrets News. OpenSecrets.org. June 28, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/06/gerrymandering-a-target-for-dark-money-after-scotus/ ^
  14. Beggin, Riley; VanHulle, Lindsay. “Michigan Proposal 2 redistricting group defends dark money as fighting fire with fire”. November 1, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-proposal-2-redistricting-group-defends-dark-money-fighting-fire-fire ^
  15. Action Network. “Democracy Initiative Annual Report 2018”. Actionnetwork.org. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/user_files/user_files/000/030/651/original/DI_Annual_Report_2018_Final.pdf?link_id=0&can_id=305ccea69832b24b2f0deec5f6bcfc10&source=email-democracy-initiative-annual-report&email_referrer=email_522140&email_subject=democracy-initiative-annual-report ^
  16. Beggin, Riley. “Michigan redistricting group brings in whopping $13.9 million”. Bridge. October 26, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-redistricting-group-brings-whopping-139-million ^
  17. Beggin, Riley; VanHulle, Lindsay. “Michigan Proposal 2 redistricting group defends dark money as fighting fire with fire”. November 1, 2018.  Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/michigan-proposal-2-redistricting-group-defends-dark-money-fighting-fire-fire ^
  18. Ballotpedia. “Redistricting”. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting?utm_campaign=1626249745&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=311031660952&utm_term=political%20districts&adgroupid=61927675095&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_bK306bn5QIVfh6tBh34SQBUEAAYASAAEgJgFvD_BwE ^
  19. Piper, Jessica. “State redistricting a target for ‘dark money’ after Supreme Court ruling”. Open Secrets News. OpenSecrets.org. June 28, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/06/gerrymandering-a-target-for-dark-money-after-scotus/ ^
  20. Melinn, Kyle. “Voters Not Politicians working on expanding term limits in Michigan”. Lansing City Pulse. October 24, 2019.  Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.lansingcitypulse.com/stories/breakthrough-coalition-working-on-expanding-term-limits,13454 ^
  21. Pluta, Rick. “Senate leader seeks Voters Not Politicians support to eliminate – or extend – term limits”. Michigan Public Radio. October 23, 2019.  Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.michiganradio.org/post/senate-leader-seeks-voters-not-politicians-support-eliminate-or-extend-term-limits ^
  22. Finley, Nolan. “Finley: Term limits may finally get a fix”. Opinion. The Detroit News. November 6, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/nolan-finley/2019/11/07/finley-term-limits-may-finally-get-fix/2509117001/ ^
  23. Oosting, Jonathan. “Mass turnover fuels push for Mich. term limit reform”. The Detroit News. October 3, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/10/03/michigan-chamber-term-limits-reform/106253436/ ^
  24. Beggin, Riley; Oosting, Jonathan. “Anti-gerrymandering group may team with GOP to tackle term limits”. Bridge. October 22, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/anti-gerrymandering-group-may-team-gop-tackle-term-limits ^
  25. Taormina, Sean. “Voters Not Politicians wants you to join the commission to redraw political districts”. The South End. November 8, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.thesouthend.wayne.edu/article_0e6dd6a6-0232-11ea-8c1f-8f0508043d04.html ^
  26. Marrin, Doug. “Dexter Forum gets an update on the downfall of gerrymandering”. The Sun Times. November 4, 2019.  Accessed November 14, 2019. https://thesuntimesnews.com/dexter-forum-gets-an-update-on-the-downfall-of-gerrymandering/ ^
  27. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.michiganradio.org/post/voters-not-politicians-looking-create-redistricting-commission-sets-sights-2020 ^
  28. Llanes, Caroline. “Voters Not Politicians looking to create redistricting commission, sets sights on 2020”. Michigan Public Radio. July 12, 2019. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/06/proposal-2-michigan-gerrymandering/1847078002/ ^
  29. The People. Thepeople.og. “Our Team”. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://thepeople.org/our-team/ ^
  30. The People. Thepeople.org. “Our Story”. “Our Mission”. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://thepeople.org/our-mission/ ^
  31. Oosting, Jonathan. “‘Nonpartisan’ redistricting board has partisan ties”. Detroit News. August 31, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/31/voters-politicians-petition-committee/105151114/ ^
  32. Beggin, Riley. “Katie Fahey of Voters Not Politicians to Take Michigan Model National.” Bridge Magazine, August 1, 2019. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/katie-fahey-voters-not-politicians-take-michigan-model-national ^
  33. Oosting, Jonathan. “‘Nonpartisan’ redistricting board has partisan ties”. Detroit News. August 31, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/31/voters-politicians-petition-committee/105151114/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2019

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $523,823 $323,873 $244,596 $44,646 N $523,823 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Voters Not Politicians (VNP)

    PO Box 16180
    Lansing, MI 48901
    United States