For Immediate Release Major Campaign Donors Launch Funders Pledge, Vowing Not to Donate to Politicans Unless They Support Fair Elections

Posted on May 12, 2010


Kerri Chyka, Blue State Digital, (646) 385-1892

Monica Walsh, (510) 710-3535

Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 736-5770

Adam Smith, Public Campaign, (202) 997-8929

Major Campaign Donors Launch Funders Pledge, Vowing Not to Donate to Politicians Unless They Support Fair Elections

Change Congress, Common Cause and Public Campaign Action Fund Organize Funders Pledge to Support Fair Elections Now Act at FixCongressFirst.org

Nearly 40 major campaign donors were among the first to sign a new Funders Pledge, promising to cease campaign donations unless politicians show support for the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA). The major grassroots online campaign surrounding the Funders Pledge officially launches today, and can be found at: http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/pledge. Change Congress (http://fixcongressfirst.org), co-founded by Lawrence Lessig and Joe Trippi, is launching this national movement to push campaign finance reform and citizen funded elections, with Common Cause and the Public Campaign Action Fund.

Change Congress Founder and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig said, "The funders who take this pledge are making an extraordinarily important statement. Our democracy, as it is funded right now, gives these individuals enormous power. But they are saying: we don't want that power. We want instead a system where 'the People,' not 'the Funders,' have the power."

The Funders Pledge also aims to collect signatures from ordinary American citizens making a commitment not to donate to the campaign of any federal candidate who opposes the Fair Elections Now Act. Those who sign support the idea that the Fair Elections Now Act is the only bill that can begin to undo the damage of unrestricted special-interest donations corrupting the US political system.

The campaign kicked off with a joint letter sent on April 30 from Hasbro, Inc. Chairman Alan Hassenfeld and Stride Rite founder and former CEO Arnold Hiatt to major campaign donors, which read: "As we all can see, the urgency to enact public funding has never been more pressing. The American public is disgusted with Congress. The overwhelming majority believe money buys results in Congress. That cynicism is not going away until our government gives people a reason to believe that it is actually acting on their behalf. Congress is close to moving on this issue. We're asking you to help us to persuade them. All of us have been supporters of congressional campaigns, some of us for many years. However, we believe that it is time for us to unite behind re- moving the undue influence that large donors like us have."

So far major campaign donors who have signed the Funders Pledge include: producer and director J.J. Abrams; Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of Warner Music; Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's; and Vin Ryan, Chairman of Schooner Capital. The estimated amount withheld from campaign donations from these individuals totals more than $1 million under the pledge. An extended list of major campaign donors who have signed the pledge to date is below.

The online campaign launching today functions as such:

Visit fixcongressfirst.org/pledge to add your name to the pledge.

We'll automatically check the records to find the contributions you've made of more than $200. All you have to do is enter an estimate of your campaign contributions from the last two election cycles of less than $200 (the government doesn't keep records of contributions of that size).

Your total will be added to the amounts entered by everyone else, showing just how much campaign cash Congress members forfeit by opposing the Fair Elections Now Act.

Once the pledges start rolling in, you'll be able to view the amount of contributions lost by every member of Congress on the "Whip" page: http://fixcongressfirst.org/Whip

However, people can participate in the pledge if they have made campaign donations on any level, whether it's $5, $50, or $1000.

Lessig wrote in an email sent this morning, "Today, we're starting a movement of citizens prepared to speak Congress' language . If all of us become lobbyists, we can make lobbying extinct - and show Congress that corporate interests can't match the power of millions of Americans acting as one."

Along with Lessig, Change Congress board member Mark McKinnon is one of the leaders of this initiative.

For more information on the Funders Pledge and Change Congress, visit fixcongressfirst.org.

Here is a list of major campaign donors who have signed the Funders Pledge to date:

J.J. Abrams; Film & TV producer

Nancy Bagley; Editor-in-Chief, Washington Life Magazine; President, ARCA Foundation

Edgar Bronfman; CEO, Warner Music

Allan Brown; Chairman of the Board, Vance Brown Builders

Ben Cohen; Co-founder, Ben & Jerry's; Founder of Sensible Priorities; overseer of True Majorities

Peter Copen; Founder & President, Copen Family Fund

Bowman Cutter; Chairman of the Board, CARE; Founder and Chairman, Microvest

Rosemary Faulkner; Philanthropist

Murray Galinson, former CEO, San Diego National Bank

Alan Hassenfeld; Chairman, Hasbro, Inc.

George Hatch; Advisory Trustee, John Merck Fund

Arnold Hiatt; Founder, Stride Rite Corp., Chairman, Stride Rite Foundation, Chairman, Business for Social Responsibility

John S. Johnson; Founder and Chair of EYEBEAM; established the Harmony Institute

Mike Kappus; President, Rosebud Agency

Joe Keefe; President & CEO, Pax World Management Corp.

Steve Kirsch; Founder and Chairman, Propel Software; CEO, Abaca; established Kirsch Foundation

Alan Kligerman; CEO and Founder, AkPharma, Inc.

Steven Ko; married to Sophia Yan; MIT student

John Luongo; Chairman and CEO of Vantive Corporation

Rhonda Luongo; Married to John Luongo

Katie McGrath; Founding Partner, First Tuesday Media; Change Congress Board Member

Arnie Miller; Executive recruiter

Dan Nova; General Partner for Highland Capital Partners; Co-Founder of Highland Consumer Funds; Change Congress Board member

Dave Orton

Lisa Orton

William Polk

Greg Price; Graduate student at MIT

Jonathan Rose; Green real estate developer

Vin Ryan; Chairman, Schooner Capital LLC

Paul Sack

Dick Senn; Political activist and Vice Chair of Change Congress Board

Jennifer Soros; married to Jonathan Soros

Jonathan Soros; President and Co-Deputy Chairman of Soros Fund Management

Christopher Vargas; Founder of Generations Investments LLC and Cleantech Circle LLC

Sophia Yen; Clinical Instructor at Lucile Parkard Children's Hospital at Stanford University; Founder of SheHeroes

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Voting and Elections

Tags: Voting Rights

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