The campaign finance reform package unveiled recently by Senate Democrats takes encouraging steps toward limiting the power of big money in our politics, but both parties still have miles to travel, Common Cause said today.
“The debate over big money should be at the center of this fall’s campaigns, so it’s particularly encouraging to see these proposals for timely, mandatory disclosure of all political spending, an overhaul of the Federal Election Commission, and a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s senior vice president for strategy and programs.
“None of these proposals should be controversial; all of them should have been passed long ago and many are part of the ‘Fighting Big Money’ reform agenda that Common Cause and a broad array of other democracy reform organizations are pushing nationwide. Throughout the primary season, we’ve seen that Democratic and Republican voters alike want this kind of action to restore balance to our political system. We appreciate the work Senators Udall, Schumer, Whitehouse, Leahy, King, Bennet, Baldwin and others have done to advance this package,” Hobert Flynn added.
“Unfortunately, the Democrats’ new program does not include a campaign finance plan that would foster political competition and empower small dollar donors by supplementing their donations with public funds,” Hobert Flynn said. “In my home state of Connecticut, as well as in Maine, Arizona and a number of major cities, these systems are broadening the base of our politics, allowing qualified people who could not otherwise afford to seek public office to run and win. Candidates who participate in these programs are able to focus on the concerns of every voter, not just those who are able to write large checks.”
Polls indicate the programs are popular among voters in every jurisdiction where they’ve been implemented. And studies like one done on New York City’s program by the Brennan Center for Justice agree that they broaden and diversify the pool of campaign donors, effectively making candidates accountable to a larger slice of the electorate.
“These programs are taking hold in localities from Albuquerque, NM, to Montgomery County, MD, to Seattle, WA,” Hobert Flynn said. “They should be at the center of any campaign reform agenda.”