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Clean Elections: Montgomery County Is About to Pave the Way

Sept. 29, 2014

Clean Elections: Montgomery County Is About to Pave the Way

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Montgomery County is about to show us how to conduct fair and clean campaigns, despite the recent setbacks in campaign finance reform imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, it is because of the new flood of unregulated money in elections stemming from the court’s decisions to allow unlimited corporate campaign spending and unlimited total contributions from wealthy individuals that makes the Montgomery County public financing proposal so necessary.

Montgomery County Council Member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) has introduced a state-of-the-art public financing bill for Montgomery County elections, which comes up for a vote before the Council on Tuesday. The legislation would establish a voluntary public financing system in which participating candidates forgo money from corporations and special interests and agree to accept small donations of no more than $150 from individuals. In exchange, the program would provide a 6-to-1 match of public funds for each individual contribution of $50 to a participating candidate, a 4-to-1 match for the next $50 from the same donor, and a third at 2-to-1.

This robust matching program would provide participating candidates with plenty of campaign funds to run strong, competitive campaigns – up to $1.5 million for county executive candidates – all the while removing large special interest money from the equation and amplifying the voices of small donors.

This is exactly the type of campaign finance reform that is so desperately needed in Montgomery County – and everywhere else in the nation. Public Citizen strongly urges the County Council to proceed with public financing of campaigns and show others the way.