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300 Congressional Candidates Pledge to Put Voters First

Sept. 27, 2006

300 Congressional Candidates Pledge to Put Voters First

New Web site details which congressional candidates signed and who refused to pledge to clean up Congress; Interactive pledge Web site unveiled

WASHINGTON, DC — Three hundred congressional candidates, including 58 incumbents, have signed a “Voters First” pledge supporting clean elections and lobbying reform in the wake of pay-to-play scandals that have rocked Washington and statehouses across the country, three national watchdog organizations announced today. The names of the candidates who signed the pledge were posted on VotersFirstPledge.org, a new interactive Web site. Voters can use the site to learn which candidates for Congress made a three-part pledge to support Clean Elections-style public financing of elections, enhanced ethics and lobbying restrictions, and greater transparency of the fundraising done by lobbyists for candidates.

Candidates who signed come from both major political parties and from 48 states. Some are incumbents; others are challengers or open seat contestants.

Public Campaign Action Fund, Common Cause and Public Citizen unveiled VotersFirstPledge.org so voters can learn more about candidates who support changing the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The site provides information on how to contact candidates who have not yet signed on. Voters can also file “field reports” with information gathered from telephone calls, meetings or questions at candidate town halls.

With former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) in jail, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) headed there, and other members under investigation or potential indictment, Congress is awash in corruption. Voters are angry about the current pay-to-play political system and are ready for a change. In recent polling, 74 percent of likely voters nationwide support public funding for campaigns. This overwhelming support crosses party lines and demographics.*

“The public is disgusted with industry-influenced congressional policies that fail to address the high cost of gasoline, inflate prescription drug prices and promote energy policies like nuclear power,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “Public funding of elections is the only real solution to the problem of money in politics. Our ‘Voters First’ pledge asks candidates for office to respond to voters before dollars.”

Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund, pointed to the growing base of support within Congress for a comprehensive reform agenda that includes Clean Elections-style public financing. “With 58 incumbents having already signed this pledge to clean up Congress, we will have a growing number of supporters for a bipartisan push in the next Congress to overhaul the pay-to-play ways from inside the Beltway. We know this is a marathon, not a sprint, but we will fight to secure hard commitments over the next five weeks so that we enter Congress next year with many more supporters of real reform than ever before.”

“With the ‘Voters First’ pledge to clean up Washington, citizens now have a tool to hold candidates accountable,” said Chellie Pingree, president and CEO of Common Cause. “The fact is that candidates are listening to voters now during this competitive election season. We’re urging voters to take this opportunity and let candidates know that we expect higher standards in Washington and hope that they will sign the ‘Voters First’ pledge.”

More than a dozen national and state organizations have agreed to e-mail their members about the “Voters First” pledge asking them to contact their representatives in the coming weeks. These e-mails will go to more than 2 million voters. Additional releases of signatories will be announced on a periodic basis throughout October.

The “Voters First” pledge and the VotersFirstPledge.org Web site are the result of a joint effort by Public Campaign Action Fund, Common Cause, Public Citizen, and other national and state organizations. For more information about the pledge and which candidates have signed on, click here.


*Polling numbers based on a telephone survey of 1,000 likely 2006 voters nationwide, conducted June 8-15, 2006 by Lake   Research and Bellwether Research. The margin of sampling error is +/-3.1%. The survey was conducted for Public Campaign Action Fund and Common Cause.