Fair Elections programs, sometimes called “clean elections,” are in place statewide in Arizona, Connecticut, and Maine and used in some elections in other states and localities across the country. They have allowed hundreds of working people, homemakers, and small business owners, who otherwise would not have been able to seek public office, to run and win independently of special interests.
Candidates participating in the programs agree to accept only small contributions – typically $100 or less – from individuals and reject funds from corporations, unions and political action groups. In return, they get public funds to supplement their individual donations.
In Connecticut, one former lawmaker says the system has made her old colleagues more responsive to voters and diminished the power of lobbyists. With fair elections, “these guys didn’t even know they were supposed to check with the lobbyists,” she said.