The Montgomery County Public Election Fund was the center of conversation during a forum last night hosted by Common Cause Maryland. Candidates and potential candidates for Montgomery County Executive and Montgomery County Council learned how to run a “people-powered campaign” rather than one driven by “Big Money” donor interests.
The forum featured Maurice Valentine, Public Affairs & Outreach Coordinator for Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection, who is the official liaison to assist candidates using the program. It was moderated by Common Cause Maryland Executive Director Joanne Antoine.
To date, more than a dozen Montgomery County candidates have filed to participate in the Public Election program. Candidates can opt-in to the system until April 15, 2022.
More details about the Public Election Fund program are available here.
The Montgomery County Public Election Fund empowers voters and enables ordinary people to run for office. It provides matching funds for county candidates who agree to reject big-money donors and instead build a campaign powered by small dollars from county residents. This lets more diverse candidates run for office, increases participation, and limits the influence of big money in politics, Antoine said. “But these programs only work if everyone knows these options exist — which is why we were so excited to be hosting this forum.”
Montgomery County was the first local jurisdiction in the state to establish a small donor, citizen funded election program – the Public Election Fund. In the 2018 election, small donors accounted for a significantly larger portion of fundraising for candidates in the program. Candidates who qualified for the matching program raised 98% of their money in small contributions ($250 or less) and matching funds compared to 3% for candidates who did not participate. Read more here.
Since Montgomery County established its Public Election Fund, Howard and Prince George’s counties, as well as Baltimore City, have established similar programs.
In November 2020, Baltimore County voters approved a charter amendment to create a similar public financing system for candidates beginning in the 2026 election. A bill is expected to be introduced within the next few weeks to establish the program.