Members, Experts Testify at Congressional Hearing for Fair Elections Now Act
Rick Bielke, Public Campaign, (202) 255-6147
Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 487-0518
Bipartisan legislation gaining momentum, nearly 75 cosponsors
Washington, DC – The House Administration Committee heard testimony today from four members of Congress, including Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-Conn.), two election experts, and the Speaker of Maine House of Representatives, in support of sweeping campaign finance reform legislation, the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826).
Introduced by Rep. Larson and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the Fair Elections Now Act would allow congressional candidates to run for office with a mixture of small donations and public financing. In addition to Larson and Jones, the committee also heard testimony from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Maine Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (D), Connecticut elections administrator Jeff Garfield, and Arn Pearson, vice president of programs at Common Cause. Pearson urged members to support the legislation to make it easier on themselves.
“Your job is not an easy one,” said Pearson, a national campaign finance expert who has implemented and defended state public financing programs in Maine and Connecticut. “The problems facing America are daunting, yet by most estimates, you spend more than a quarter of your time fundraising, often from those who have a direct financial stake in what you do. Clearly we need to change the way American pays for elections.” Click here to read Pearson’s full testimony.
Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign, agreed. “With the health care debate raging in Congress during the day, members of Congress should not be placed into the position of raising money from insurance and big pharmaceutical company lobbyists and executives at night,” Nyhart said. “We applaud Rep. Larson’s leadership and the support from so many members of Congress.”
Lisa Gilbert, U.S.PIRG’s democracy advocate stated, “as Congress and agencies take steps to end the free-for-all environment of Wall Street, the time has never been better stem the tide of special interest money. The landmark legislation being discussed at today’s hearing offers a realistic alternative to our current corrosive system for those who seek a Congressional seat.”
“The 111th Congress stands at the brink of fundamentally changing ‘politics as usual,'” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Americans are demanding dramatic changes in
Washington, greater transparency in government, and more accountability of money in politics. Now is the time for Congress to pass the most crucial reform – reducing the role of special interest money in campaigns.”
“The Supreme Court is fully behind voluntary public financing systems. This is the best and the most constitutionally sound way to advance a robust system for more public participation in elections,” said Susan Liss, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.
The coalition backing the measure include the Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress, Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG. A broad coalition of civic, online, advocacy, union, church, environmental, and civil rights groups have endorsed the campaign reform measure. For more information about the bill and the coalition, visit www.fairelectionsnow.org.
Go to http://www.fairelectionsnow.org/bizleader to see the business leader ad in support of the Fair Elections Now Act running in today’s Roll Call newspaper.