Hitting the Hill for Public Financing

Hitting the Hill for Public Financing

An amazing group of Common Cause volunteers, the DC Connection, went to Capitol Hill today to continue the proud tradition of the “Citizens’ Lobby;’ I was lucky enough to go along.

We met with staffers for Reps. Bruce Braley (IA-1), John Sarbanes (MD-3), and Jared Huffman (CA-2) to discuss the Government By the People Act (HR-20). This bill would let congressional candidates combine grants of public funds with small dollar donations from individuals to break the hold of big money, special interest donors on our elections. Candidates would get $6 in public funds for every $1 contributed up to $150, so a $150 gift would grow to $1050. There is even a tax break for those who donate.

In Rep. Sarbanes office, where we met with Raymond O’Mara an aide to the congressman, (center in the photo) it was great to hear about the value of information staffers got from good government groups like Common Cause as they developed the bill. The staffer thanked the Common Cause volunteers for their work to recruit co-sponsors to the bill. The volunteers stressed the importance of tougher campaign finance disclosure requirements to Rep. Braley’s staff; the congressman was hit with $2 million in “dark money’ attack ads before the 2010 election. And Rep. Huffman’s staff discussed how the freshman congressman was excited to be working on HR 20.

All the offices agreed that the bill would empower small dollar individual donors to have a greater voice in our democracy. And they all thanked the hard working Common Cause volunteers for all that they do to protect and promote our democracy. The discussions were a reminder that individual citizens can still speak directly to congressional staff and make a difference through the real life Citizens’ Lobby.