Unlimited Corporate Spending in Elections – And Now No Public Financing To Boot!?

Jan. 24, 2011  

Unlimited Corporate Spending in Elections – And Now No Public Financing To Boot!?

House GOP Moves to Bolster Special Interest Funding of 2012 Presidential Elections

Note: Read a letter Public Citizen sent to the House condemning the bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen roundly condemns the latest sneak attack by GOP leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to terminate the presidential public financing program and give special interests even more influence over American elections than they already have.

On the anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision – a ruling that corporations may spend unlimited funds in our national, state, local and judicial elections – House Republicans introduced H.R. 359, a bill that would end public financing of presidential elections, beginning with the 2012 election. The legislative proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), is being whisked through the legislative process with no hearings and no deliberation for a floor vote as early as Wednesday.

 “A vote for H.R. 359 is a great way to tell the American people that you want to give corporations more power over our government rather than make democracy work for ordinary Americans,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

 Only in recent presidential elections has the public financing system grown outdated. Until the 2008 presidential election, all major party candidates agreed to accept the same amount in public funds to pay for their general election, resulting in challengers defeating sitting incumbents about half the time since 1976. Barack Obama was the first candidate to opt out of the public financing program in the general election, though other candidates have opted out of public financing in primary elections.

 Legislation has been drafted to repair the presidential public financing system, which was introduced in the last congressional session by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). At the same time, a public financing program for congressional elections gained strong momentum in the last Congress. 

 “Make no mistake about it: The Republican leadership’s legislation to eliminate public financing is an attack not just on the presidential public financing system, but also an attack on congressional public financing proposals,” said Craig Holman, governmental affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “To ensure that the public’s voice can be heard against the corporate onslaught, we need to expand public financing of elections, not kill it.”

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.