New California Independence Group Launches with New Approach

Los Angeles, October 25, 2018

Independent California, a new non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to moving California in a more democratic and more independent direction, is pleased to announce the launch of its group and affiliated website,

“People underestimate how pervasive the public appeal of an independent California has become,” says Drew Lehman, a California attorney and Executive Director of Independent California, citing a Reuters poll that showed nearly a third of Californians want California to peacefully withdraw from the United States. “And this doesn’t include all the Californians who support California taking more control in areas like drug policy, water, the environment, and immigration, without federal interference.”

But could California actually gain independence? “It’s not an either-or thing,” said Dave Marin, who chairs Independent California’s board of directors. “California independence is a spectrum, which is to say that California can have more or less autonomy, and a process, which is to say there are things Californians can do right now to make California more independent. Once you look at it that way, not only is independence possible, it’s already happening.”

Independent California is premised on the idea that California already does a better job at governing than the federal government, and could do even more for its residents with less federal interference. Independent California envisions a wealth of options and opportunities that can further improve the quality of California’s government, economy, and lives of its residents, which, while making California more independent, fall short of secession. Lehman reflects that “while a negotiated, peaceful separation may someday in the future be right for California, we are not ready today. Regardless of one’s opinion about the ultimate question of ‘secession’, I have found that there is enormous support for our goals. For those who do not want to secede, the reforms and policies for which we advocate may help render secession impractical or unnecessary. For those who do, there is recognition that these steps should be taken now to place California in the best possible position for success later.”

As one example, Marin pointed to SB 822, a newly enacted state law which ensures strong net neutrality protections in California, which Independent California helped lobby for. “Now, at least as far as net neutrality goes, it matters a whole lot less to Californians who the president is or who sits on the board of the FCC.” Marin referred to an essay, “What California independence looks like,” that outlines no less than twelve different ways Californians and their elected officials are moving California toward greater independence. “They might call it ‘resistance’ or ‘California values’,” said Marin, “but from a policy perspective it amounts to the same thing.”

Other reforms and policies Independent California advocate include reforming the California state legislature, the initiative system, and the criminal justice system, establishing state banking and universal healthcare, and securing additional environmental and civil rights protections. They also support electoral college reform.

Some members of Independent California’s leadership coalesced around a 2017 initiative effort. The initiative, “California: Autonomy from Federal Government” proposed a process by which the state California would have negotiated ever greater autonomy from the federal government over time, possibly culminating in full independence. Three of the initiative’s five sponsors serve on Independent California’s board of directors, including its two primary authors, Dave Marin and Dr. Timothy Vollmer.

Independent California has an affiliated think-tank, the Independent California Institute. “We’re taking the SEA approach: study, educate, advocate,” said Vollmer, who chairs the Institute’s board of directors. Currently the Institute is digging into whether Californians get a fair share of federal spending relative to the federal taxes they pay. “This will be the most comprehensive and most transparent study of the ‘donor state’ question to date,” said Vollmer. “And we’re just getting started.”

Please direct inquiries to:
Drew Lehman, Executive Director