Statement on Sen. Barack Obama’s decision to opt-out of the public financing system

Statement of Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, on the decision today by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to become the first major party presidential candidate not to take public funding in the general election:

“It has seemed clear for some time that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) would not opt into the presidential public finance system for the general election, so his announcement today is not a surprise.

For years Common Cause has said the presidential public finance system is badly outdated and in need of a major overhaul so we made a decision at the beginning of the election season not to criticize candidates for not participating in a flawed system.

But Sen. Obama did say at one point that he would opt into the system if his opponent did the same, and for that he gets a demerit.

However, he has shown himself to be a reformer in other ways throughout this campaign. He is not taking lobbyist and political action committee contributions and as the party’s nominee, he directed the Democratic National Committee to do the same. He excited record numbers of small donors to contribute and participate in the political process. He is also a co-sponsor of legislation to establish a full voluntary system of public financing for congressional campaigns, as well as reform the presidential public finance system.

Common Cause is hopeful that those reform-minded steps are indicative of the kind of campaign finance changes Sen. Obama would champion if he is elected President.”