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Money & Influence 05.15.2024

Next Avenue (PBS): May the Biggest Wallet Win

"Strong majorities of Republican, Democratic and independent voters believe that there's too much 'big' and secret money in politics," says Aaron Scherb, spokesperson for Common Cause, a nonpartisan "citizens' lobby" working to ensure fair elections. The DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) Act would rectify the glaring omission of dark money groups from FEC disclosure requirements. Some version of the DISCLOSE Act has been introduced every Congressional session since 2010—when it came within one vote of passing. "Republicans," says Scherb, "have repeatedly filibustered it in recent years." "With congressional Republicans continuing to block progress at the federal level, more and more states and municipalities have taken matters into their own hands and passed a variety of reforms," says Scherb. One effort is publicly funded campaigns with "small-donor matching systems" or block grants. More than three dozen states and municipalities have adopted some type of publicly financed elections. "These bills empower average Americans by matching their donations and make it possible for people of average means to run for office," says Scherb. "Passing reforms at the state and local level will create bottom up pressure on Congress to eventually do so at the federal level," he adds. Luckily, there are a number of nonpartisan groups working to reform our out-of-control campaign finance system. They act as FEC watchdogs, pushing for the commission to enforce violations (the six-member FEC — composed of three members of each party — often deadlocks), and advocate for legislative changes at all levels. Groups like Common Cause, Campaign Legal Center, End Citizens United and the League of Women Voters are all committed to campaign finance reform. The battle to rein in the influence of "big money" in campaigns won't happen overnight. With a reluctant Supreme Court and concerted partisan efforts to stymie legislation at the federal level, there is hard work ahead. "This is a marathon, not a sprint," warns Scherb. But he and others firmly believe it's a race that must be won. "Big money shouldn't dictate policy outcomes," Scherb says.

Money & Influence 04.23.2024

“Democracy Scorecard” Tracks Lawmaker Support for Pro-Democracy Bills in 118th Congress

With 2024 congressional races in full swing, Common Cause is again tracking the positions of every Member of Congress on issues vital to the health of our democracy. For the fifth cycle in a row, Members of the House and Senate have received letters from Common Cause asking them to co-sponsor and support up to ten democracy reform bills. The letters inform Members that their voting and co-sponsorship record will be published in Common Cause’s “Democracy Scorecard,” which will be distributed to the organization’s 1.5 million members, as well as to state and national media, during the lead-up to Election Day.

Money & Influence 03.5.2024

Oregon Capital Chronicle: House leaders make last-ditch effort on campaign finance reform

Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon, called the amendment “a testament to the hubris of the political donor class” in written testimony. The nonprofit, nonpartisan Common Cause supports IP 9, the stricter measure backed by Honest Elections Oregon. “Oregon voters will have no trouble seeing through this,” Titus wrote.

Money & Influence 03.1.2024

Honolulu Star Advertiser: 5 Questions: Camron Hurt, of Common Cause Hawaii

What aspect of “good government” does Hawaii do well, and where does it need the most improvement? Hawaii is truly a dynamic state. Areas of good governance that Hawaii does well include human rights as well as establishing safe avenues for citizen participation in democracy. However, this is simply not enough as we continue to struggle with participation in democracy, transparency and strategic vision. Perhaps the aspect of good governance that is most missing from our state would be strong and pragmatic anti-corruption safeguards and laws.

Money & Influence 02.16.2024

USA Today/Gannett: Hawaii has a voter enthusiasm problem, could publicly funded campaigns help?

Common Cause Hawaii’s program manager, Camron Hurt, emphasized the need for more comprehensive changes to make Hawaii’s elections free from outside influence, more competitive and more popular. “I think those (other reforms) are all tools to fix the same wheel. Right. So I think we fixed parts of the wheel, but the wheel still isn’t moving as efficiently as it can,” Hunt said.

Money & Influence 01.25.2024

Honolulu Star Advertiser: Saiki supports bills for full public financing of political campaigns

Camron Hurt, program manager for Common Cause Hawaii, said full public financing of political candidates would allow elected officials to focus on voters’ concerns and not special interests “by removing big money from our politics.” At the same, Hurt said, “I hope it allows for greater participation from the candidates, for a kid growing up in Pauoa or Nanakuli.” “Having the speaker’s unwavering support and leadership in this bill is astronomical at a risk to his own seat, at risk to his own colleagues who may disagree with the bill he wants to see fully financed citizen elections,” Hurt said. “It is courageous. It is commendable to have the speaker of the House take a stand and say he wants to put a stop to enormous amounts of corruption. He must be commended.”

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