PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS
Did you know twenty-five states have programs that provide public funds for election campaigns?
Public financing of campaigns encourages candidates to be:
- Accountable to all voters in a district instead of focusing on wealthy areas and individuals
- Involved with constituents because almost all their time can be spent on their work – not on fundraising
Public financing of campaigns:
- Allows time for each candidate to interact with voters
- Enables voters to hear directly from each candidate
- Provides opportunities for a wider variety of people to run for office
- Changes the focus for the competition to be based on new ideas and policies
- Offers equal money to run effective, competitive campaigns
- Promotes real choices and reduced cynicism
BILLS BEFORE CONGRESS
Government by the People Act (HR 20) - Empowering small donors and increasing political participation. Matching public funds for small dollar contributions, and various other provisions. (Congressional elections), key sponsor: Rep. Sarbanes.
Empowering Citizens Act (HR 424) Empowering small donors and increasing political participation. (Congressional and Presidential elections), key sponsor: Rep. Price.
Fair Elections Now Act (S 1538)
Allow Senate candidates to run competitive campaigns by relying on small donations from people back home—not big-money donors. Creates tax credit, matching grants and donation caps for participating candidates. Key Sponsor: Sen. Durbin
PEOPLE POWER PROGRESS UPDATES
- In December 2016 Portland revives public financing of campaigns.
- In November 2016, Howard County, Maryland is voting on Measure A and Berkeley is voting on Measure X1
- In November 2015, Maine (Yes On 1) and Seattle (I-122) voters approved or expanded public financing programs! Seattle gives each voter four $25 vouchers to give to candidates of their choice.
- In September 2014, Montgomery County became the first county in Maryland to take advantage of a state program to create a small donor matching system for council and executive elections.
- In February 2015, Chicago voters approved a non-binding resolution calling for city-wide public financing program. In January 2016, three Chicago alderman responded by proposing a public financing program using matching funds on contributions up to $175.
ACTION STEP 1: SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE ACT
Call your Rep. and ask them to support this bill from Rep. Sarbanes HR20: Government By The People Act.
Introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, HR 20 encourages small dollar gifts to candidates for the House of Representatives by providing citizens with a $25 refundable tax credit. The bill creates a “Freedom from Influence” fund to match small dollar donations -- $150 or less – from individuals at a 6-1 rate. Thus a $50 gift would grow to $350 and a $150 gift to $1,050. Additional matching funds would be available to candidates who agree to accept only small-dollar donations. It also includes provisions to counter the power of super PACs and “dark money” non-profit groups.
Watch Rep. Sarbanes talk about HR 20:
ACTION STEP 2: FIND OUT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN YOUR STATE
From Every Voice - State Groups working on Public Financing
- AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network
- CA - California Clean Money Campaign, CA Free Act
- CT - Connecticut Citizen's Action
- IA - Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement
- IL - Citizen Action
- ME - Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
- MD - Progressive Maryland
- NC - Democracy North Carolina
- NY - Citizen Action of New York
- WI - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
- WA - Washington Public Campaigns, Honest Elections Seattle
Twenty-five states have programs that provide public funds for use in election campaigns. State public financing programs may be divided into three broad categories:
- Provide funds directly to individual candidates
- Provide funds to political parties
- Provide tax incentive to citizens who make political contributions
Here's a rundown of what public financing looks like in various states.
14 states offer public funds to political candidates:
AZ, CT, FL, HI, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NC, RI, VT, WV
10 states provide grants to qualified political parties:
AL, AZ, IA, KT, MN, NM, NC, OH, RI, UT
7 states offer tax incentives to encourage citizens to make political contributions:
AR, MN, MT, OH, OK, OR, VA
IF IT'S NOT HAPPENING IN YOUR STATE: CONTACT EVERY VOICE TO JOIN OR START A GROUP
ACTION STEP 3: CHECK OUT GLOBAL EXCHANGE'S ELECT DEMOCRACY CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATIVE SCORECARD
Does bank campaign $$ buy pro-industry votes? Check out Global Exchange's ground-breaking new style of legislative scorecard and report to see for yourself the cold hard facts about Congress 'Wall Street loyalty rates' and corporate campaign contributions.
Share This Infographic: Meet The FIRE (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) Sector: Discover how the bulk of Wall Street has burned through over $4.2 billion via lobbying and campaign contributions in order to buy power and influence in DC.
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