The time is now for Fair Elections

Common Cause commends Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) for introducing the Fair Elections Now Act, landmark bipartisan campaign finance legislation that would create a voluntary system of public funding for congressional campaigns modeled on successful public financing systems used for the past three election cycles in Maine and Arizona.

For more than 35 years, Common Cause has worked on incremental reforms to limit the undue influence of big money in politics, from leading efforts to create a presidential public finance system in 1974 to championing the soft money ban in 2002. While those efforts have curbed the influence and access that wealthy contributors and special interests enjoy, public funding of congressional campaigns would be the ultimate solution to putting the public’s agenda first and stopping the kind of pay-to-play scandals that have tainted Washington and statehouses across the country in recent years.

“It is time to completely overhaul the broken campaign financing system,” said Jon Goldin Dubois, executive vice president of Common Cause. “Fair Elections will ensure that the voice of the voters, not the lobbyists and special interests, is heard in Washington. Fair Elections will allow candidates to run successful campaigns based on ideas, not based on who can raise the most money. And Fair Elections will ensure that politicians work on the problems that voters, not lobbyists, care about.”

Public support for public funding of campaigns, also known as “Clean Election” reforms, has surged in recent years in response to political scandals involving the likes of former GOP Reps. Randy Duke Cunningham of California and Bob Ney of Ohio, both in jail after admitting to taking money in exchange for legislative favors. National polling last year by Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research found 74 percent of respondents support for the type of reforms contained in the Fair Elections Now Act, with strong support from Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. The polling memo is available for viewing here.

“By passing this bill and implementing Fair Elections, Congress can show the American people that they are serious about ending political corruption and that they will be accountable to their constituents,” Goldin-Dubois said.

In addition work in support of federal public funding, Common Cause is working in 17 states to pass, implement and defend public financing.