Letter to the Presidential Candidates, asking for support of Public Financing

Letter to the Presidential Candidates, asking for support of Public Financing

Dear 2008 Presidential Candidates:

This letter is being sent to all Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

We believe there is an issue in this campaign that so far has received only limited attention. We hope to change that. The issue has to do with the influence of money in the legislative process as it relates to the funding of Congressional campaigns.

As you may know, Maine and Arizona have enacted model full public funding laws which are working well. Although the laws establish voluntary rather than mandatory constraints, over 80% of current Maine legislators - about half Republican and half Democratic - were elected without accepting any special interest money. Likewise, 9 of 11 statewide officeholders in Arizona were similarly elected.

Common Cause and many other groups are pushing for passage of legislation at the federal level to enact Maine- and Arizona-style full public funding of campaigns for Congress, as embodied in the Durbin-Specter Fair Elections Now Act (S.1285).

The public overwhelmingly recognizes the conflicts of interest that characterize our current system. The disproportionate influence of money and lobbyists on the conduct of our government cries out for reform.

The current political money game undercuts respect for government and disincentivizes good people from seeking office. The negativity that hallmarks so many modern campaigns is directly related to excessive campaign cost abuses. Reform of campaign finance will not end the incivility that dominates so much in politics but it will help uplift the tone and nature of campaigns.

It will also allow elected officials to devote their time and energy exclusively to duties of governance without concern for either the time or conflicts implicit in fund-raising endeavors. Democracy should be about people, not money.

To raise the profile of the issue, we respectfully ask that you fill out the enclosed questionnaire and return it to Common Cause, with a copy to Project Vote Smart.

We expect people at various candidate fora in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere to ask that candidates affirm where they stand on this issue.

Based on responses given, we plan to advise potential caucus attendees and primary voters of the positions of candidates on this issue. It is our hope, of course, that candidates will commit to making election reform a priority in their campaigns and, more consequently, if elected.

Elected officials should be indebted solely to those who cast ballots rather than to narrow special interest groups. The fundamental nature of American democracy is at stake.


Bob Edgar

President/CEO, Common Cause

Former Member of Congress

James A. Leach

Former Member of Congress (R-IA)

Berkley Bedell

Former Member of Congress (D-IA)

Congressional Public Financing Questionnaire

To: Common Cause

Attn: Campaign Reform Director

1133 19th Street, NW 9th Floor

Washington, DC 20036

cc. Project Vote Smart

One Common Ground

Philipsburg, MT 59858

_________ I agree with the campaign reform model in Maine and Arizona, which provides full public funding for qualified candidates who agree to spending limits and to stop accepting private contributions, and I believe we need such reform at the federal level. I will make passage of such legislation one of my priorities in my campaign, and in my presidency if elected.

_________ I agree with full public funding as outlined but am not prepared to make it a priority.

_________Sorry, I do not agree with full public funding as outlined.

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