Jan. 27, 2017
Bowser’s Evasion of Campaign Finance Reform Questions Highlights Needs for D.C. Council to Act
Statement of Aquene Freechild, Co-Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s refusal to acknowledge that corporations wield too much influence in District elections – as evidenced by her answers to three questions about money in politics at a forum on Thursday night – underscores the need for the D.C. Council to move swiftly on campaign finance reform legislation.
During the question-and-answer session at a meeting of the Ward 3 Democrats, Bowser fielded three questions about money in politics. She evaded the first, designed to gauge her support for pay-to-play legislation that would cut off the corrupt money pipeline between contractors and Council candidates. Bowser said only that she supports disclosure of contributions. Asked what she would do to resist the influence of corporate lobbyists and funders – and whether she would stop taking corporate contributions – she said she would follow the law (which allows such donations). She refused to answer whether she would support a prohibition on the bundling of lobbyist contributions. (Video clips of the questions and Bowser’s answers are available on the Facebook page of DC for Democracy.)
The next round of campaigns for Council seats will start before you know it. The Council should move immediately to curb the influence of money in District politics. Public financing of elections is a key way to start. D.C. Fair Elections legislation that was considered last year – and should be reintroduced – would provide public money to candidates who refuse large contributions. Such a public financing system would help restore the balance of power to District residents, away from big donors and contractors.