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Fair Elections Bill Stands Best Chance in Decades for Passage

July 29, 2009 

Fair Elections Bill Stands Best Chance in Decades for Passage

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

Public Citizen applauds the rapid and solid support building for passage of the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826), sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-NC).

While Congress grapples with the nation’s most pressing problems, the House Committee on Administration recognizes that the problem of money in politics must be as high a priority for Congress as it is for the American people. With the committee scheduled to hold a full hearing on the act Thursday, there are already more than 70 bipartisan co-sponsors spanning a wide swath of the major caucuses in Congress.

The Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) is the second part of a two-punch reform effort that began as early as 2006. The first part was the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which the 110th Congress adopted by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act implemented sweeping lobbying and ethics reforms, reining in undue influence-peddling through lobbyist-financed wining and dining and opening the books on the financial activities of lobbyists through real-time quarterly lobbying reports and disclosure of political contributions. Having achieved that great success, Congress is now turning to reform the way in which campaign money influences government.

The 111th Congress stands at the brink of fundamentally changing “politics as usual.” Since the lobbyist corruption scandals in early 2006, Americans have demanded dramatic changes in Washington, greater transparency in government and more accountability for money in politics. Many of these reforms have already been adopted. Now the most crucial reform – reducing the role of special interest money in campaigns – is before Congress.

The time has come for public financing of congressional elections.

READ Public Citizen’s written testimony submitted to the House Administration Committee.