Already this election season North Carolina has seen a record amount of outside special interest money flooding the airwaves and threatening to drown out the voices of ordinary North Carolinians. As Chris Fitzsimon reported today, it was bad enough when special interest shadow groups flooded elections with spending in prior elections. Not only has the Supreme Court deregulated corporate spending in Citizens United v FEC now it is nearly impossible to discover who is putting up the money to influence elections.
The whole endeavor is like an episode of Scooby Doo gone wrong. Enterprising truth seekers like Scooby-Doo and the Gang could swoop in, unmask the villain and discover what was really going on. Post-Citizens United, special interests lurk in the shadows — but the mask is never unveiled, and voters are left wondering if that special interest spending is a real zombie.
In a world where powerful interests don’t have to let us know what they are spending to influence elections, the mystery is never solved.
Earlier this year, Congress filibustered a bill that would have made it easier to unmask big contributors to elections. But there’s another option: Why don’t we stop the chase by taking Big Money out of the equation altogether?
So, how do we stop the masked villains? One way is through public financing.
Today, by a 6-2 vote, a House committee passed the Fair Elections Now Act, legislation that would make elected officials accountable to constituents instead of big money. The Fair Elections Now Act diminishes the power of special interests by lessening the importance of big outside spending.
The Fair Elections Now Act models a program that has worked here in North Carolina. It provides a system of public financing, that keeps the big special interest money from being the only game in town. Candidates would renounce political action committee gifts and finance their campaigns with a blend of small donations from individuals and grants from a special Fair Elections Fund. Candidates could accept only donations of $100 or less.
Most important – despite what masked villains say, this will not be funded on the tax payer’s dime.
It’s a scary world out there – but at least the Fair Elections Now Act would help us regain a government of, by, and for the people, not one bought and paid for by spooky special interests.