Author

Uncategorized

As record amounts of money are being poured into this year’s elections, support for publicly-financed, “clean elections” is growing among state lawmakers.

NC Voters for Clean Election’s 2010 Campaign Finance Reform Scorecard, finds that even though measures to expand an innovative Voter-Owned Elections program to more state-wide races didn’t pass this legislative session, more state lawmakers earned perfect 100% scores for their support of election reform than ever before.

This election year is showing just how important it is to have a clean elections alternative to campaigns run by big money.  North Carolina is a national leader in campaign finance reform, and support for reform continues to grow.

Currently in North Carolina, appellate judges and some Council of State races can use Voter-Owned Elections – an alternative campaign financing system that reduces candidates’ reliance on raising money from special interests. Under the system, candidates who prove they have broad public support from small donors and agree to strict spending and fundraising limits can receive a public grant for their campaign.

An initiative to expand Voter-Owned Elections to five more Council of State offices and create a sustainable fee-based revenue stream for the program was contained in the Senate’s ethics bill. However, the reforms were pulled from the final version of the ethics bill after an aggressive call-in campaign led by the group Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by North Carolina conservative philanthropist Art Pope of Raleigh.

Although the “clean elections” measures didn’t pass, the overall grades state lawmakers earned for their support of campaign finance reform has continued to grow. In 2010, 48% of House members and 52% of Senators had perfect scores – up 20% in both chambers from 2008.

More and more, North Carolina leaders see Voter-Owned Elections as the answer to the mushrooming problem of big money in politics.   These reforms offer a proven way to improve our elections and state legislators have taken note.

The full results of the Scorecard can be downloaded from www.ncvce.org.

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

The current political environment has seemingly produced partisan battles on every issue. But the Fair Elections Now Coalition, a coalition of good government groups, has found an issue on which the left and right have common ground: the undue influence of money in politics.

Representatives from the coalition went to rallies organized by self-described liberal and conservative groups and found them saying almost exactly the same thing about the need for the Fair Elections Now Act. Check out the video and you’ll be surprised!

YouTube Preview Image

The Fair Elections Now Act would make politicians accountable to voters instead of special interests and lobbyists. With Fair Elections, candidates can run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small donations from people back home. The legislation has the broad, bipartisan, and cross-caucus support including lead sponsors Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Larson (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jones (R-N.C.).

North Carolina Representatives G.K. Butterfield, Walter Jones, Larry Kissell, Brad Miller, David Price and Mel Watt are all co-sponsors.