Sarbanes’ New Campaign Finance Measure Would Offset Flood of Money in Politics

Feb. 5, 2014

Sarbanes’ New Campaign Finance Measure Would Offset Flood of Money in Politics

H.R. 20 Would Help Bring a Government of, by and for the People

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen applauds today’s introduction of the “Government By the People Act” (H.R. 20), a comprehensive campaign reform measure designed to dramatically reduce the importance of large campaign contributions and vastly enhance the significance of small donations from everyday Americans.

The measure, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and dozens of co-sponsors, would help restore fairness and opportunity to our elections, Public Citizen said.

Over the past four years, poll after poll has shown that wide majorities of Americans are dismayed by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed unlimited corporate money to flood elections. And a large number of Americans are infuriated with the outsized role money plays in elections, as well as the time and resources officeholders spend cozying up to campaign contributors.

“At no time in history has a strong congressional public financing program been so sorely needed – and so warmly welcomed by the American public,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “Americans are demanding far more accountability from Congress. The only real means to achieve this accountability is to replace money from mega-corporations and the wealthy with public funds and small donations from average Americans. This is precisely what the Government By the People Act offers.”

The Government By the People Act grew from two years of research and negotiations among Congress, academics and civic organizations. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) awarded the measure a priority bill number (H.R. 20) in recognition of its significance.

H.R. 20 would provide:

– A $25 tax credit to all Americans – meaning your first $25 contribution is fully refunded;
– Matching public funds of 6-to-1 for donations of $150 or less; and
– Support for small-donor groups to offset super PACs and “dark money” political organizations.

“We can’t have government of, by and for the people if we have elections of, by and for the super-rich and giant corporations,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “Small donor and public funding of elections is a vital measure to restore our democracy.”

“Most Americans see the financing of our last election as a national disgrace and a scandal in the making,” added Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Just a few dozen very wealthy donors, often corporate CEOs, dominate the financing of our elections. This sets the tone and agendas both in the primary and general elections – agendas that have little to do with the interests of the rest of us.”

Public Citizen heartily endorses this new effort to rein in the abuses of excessive, undisclosed money in politics.

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Additonal note: Citizens are able to show support for the Government by the People Act here.