Groups & Individuals Oppose House Efforts to Kill Presidential Public Financing and EAC

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  • David Vance
In a letter sent today to members of the House Administration Committee, 38 organizations and individuals with expertise in governance issues strongly opposed bills being considered tomorrow by the committee to terminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (HR 133) and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) (HR 634).

The groups urged the committee members to reject both bills.  “At stake is the survival of the public financing system for presidential elections and a commission that plays a vitally important role in standardizing and modernizing election administration,” they wrote.

HR 133 “vitiates an important check on special interest money by eliminating public financing for presidential campaigns,” the letter says. “The current public financing system does not work because Congress never modernized the system to account for greatly increased costs in the financing of presidential campaigns. The system needs meaningful reform, not repeal, and should be updated to accommodate the new realities of campaign fundraising after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United.”

The letter continues, “Big money in elections, especially after Citizens United, is corrosive to government accountability and representative democracy. Now is the time to upgrade our presidential public financing system to empower small donors. Eliminating the presidential public financing system will ensure that the presidency is in the hands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and special interest groups.”

HR 634 “would eliminate a resource that is a critical part of the government’s effort to ensure that our elections are fair, efficient, and accessible,” the groups wrote. “Established in the wake of the widespread election administration failures in the 2000 election, Congress created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to address serious problems with our voting systems that can suppress voter participation and turnout, including long lines at polling stations and outdated voter registration procedures. The EAC serves every American voter by conducting research, collecting data, and sharing information among elected officials, the public, and interested organizations.”

The letter continues, “In light of the many challenges faced by our state and local election administrators and the serious procedural problems that weaken voter access and participation, we believe that this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to voting rights and fair elections by strengthening the EAC and providing it with the staff it requires to function effectively. HR 634 would eliminate an important tool for improving a voting system fraught with problems and should be rejected.”

The letter concludes: “The presidential public financing system and the EAC are important components of an honest and fair election system that suffer from congressional neglect and gridlock, not from any inherent flaw. Instead of eliminating these important democracy reform tools, members of Congress should work to strengthen and expand our public financing system for presidential elections and provide the Election Assistance Commission with the resources it needs to perform its duties. The problems facing our electoral system demand such an effort to improve the integrity and effectiveness of campaign finance laws and election administration.”

To read the letter, click here.

Signers to the letter include:

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Campaign Legal Center
Center for American Progress
Common Cause National Organization and State Organizations
Demand Progress
Democracy 21
Democracy North Carolina
Every Voice
Fair Elections Legal Network
Franciscan Action Network
Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
Issue One
League of Women Voters
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections Action
MAYDAY America
NAACP – National Voter Fund
National Council of Jewish Women
Nebraskans for Civic Reform
Norm Eisen, Former Ambassador, Former chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011
Norm Orenstein
Patriotic Millionaires
People For the American Way
Public Citizen
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Seth Waxman, Former United States Solicitor General
Sunlight Foundation        
United Steelworkers (USW)
U.S. PIRG   
Voter Participation Center                      
Voting Rights Institute
Wisconsin United to Amend
Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund