In every election since 2000, candidates for Congress have raised more money from big donors and political committees and less from donors giving $200 or less. In 2012, small donors accounted for only about $1 of every $7 contributed to congressional campaigns.

Political contributions are investments in our democracy and the elected officials to whom we entrust it. And the more investors put into the system, the more they expect in return. In the mid-2000s, financial interests spent over $2.1 billion on congressional campaigns and Washington lobbying, enough to keep Congress and regulators at bay in the run-up to a market meltdown that nearly destroyed our economy. When Congress reformed health care, the only clear winners were the pharmaceutical companies, which put more than $30 million into the 2008 election and more than $500 million into lobbying Congress during 2009 and ’10.

Fair elections programs are an antidote to such pay-to-play arrangements. They allow candidates to leverage small donations and run competitive campaigns without relying on big donors.

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