High court ruling shows public financing is only way to get spending limits

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of Vermont’s campaign finance law demonstrates that voluntary public funding of elections is the only way that the public is going to get the campaign spending limits that polls overwhelmingly show it wants.

“This court is out of step with the vast majority of Americans who want to take back their democracy from wealthy special interests and strongly support spending limits,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “This decision makes clear that the one avenue we have for addressing the problem of the corrupting influence of big money in politics is to enact public financing of campaigns on the federal and state levels.”

Last week, bipartisan pollsters unveiled polling showing voters are disturbed by the current climate of corruption in politics, and that 83 percent thinks we need to change the way we pay for elections. Click here to read polling results.

What’s more, the movement for publicly funded campaigns, or Clean Elections, has gathered momentum recently. Connecticut, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon passed Clean Election laws last year, and it appears that a Clean Elections initiative will be on the ballot in California this November. Clean Election laws are already in effect in Maine, Arizona, North Carolina, Vermont, New Mexico and New Jersey.

“Given the Abramoff and other recent scandals out of Washington, and Congress’ refusal to address its lax ethics system, public financing is a way for the public to get its concerns back at the top of the national agenda, where they should be,” Pingree said.

Common Cause is among several national reform groups advocating for public funding of congressional elections. Last week, the organizations kicked off their campaign by announcing a “Voters First” pledge that they will ask every congressional candidate in the country to sign, stating their support for public financing. Click here to read more on the pledge.