The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, 212-998-6289 or 646-265-7721
Susan Lehman, 212-998-6318

Fair Elections Now Act Would Break Special Interest Grip on Congress

Wall Street Influence Peddling Highlights Need for Sweeping Reform


Amid growing public outrage over Wall Street influence peddling and the federal bank bailout, a set of bipartisan bills that will fundamentally transform congressional fundraising will be introduced today. Called the Fair Elections Now Act and sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the proposal would help loosen the special interest hold on Congress.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a coalition of other good-government groups helped craft this crucial legislation. Also sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the proposal provides qualified congressional candidates Fair Elections funding to run a viable campaign if they agree to take no contributions larger than $100 and by first raising a large number of small contributions from their home states. Those contributions would be matched on a four-to-one basis, up to a certain point.

"Congress is facing a number of enormous challenges, including the collapse of our financial institutions and its impact on Main Street," says Laura MacCleery, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "Strong oversight and bold solutions are needed today more than ever. The Fair Elections system would allow members of Congress to act in the interest of the country rather than contributors."

The Fair Elections Now Act is modeled after elements of similar programs in states like Arizona, Connecticut, Maine and North Carolina. Their success also showed that a more diverse pool of candidates can run under a system like Fair Elections, ensuring that elections will be a contest of ideas, rather than a competition of corporate fundraising.

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or at or Susan Lehman at 212-998-6318 or Additional information will be available at, including polling information, a bill summary, and facts and figures about money in recent elections.

The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute. We strive to uphold the values of democracy. We stand for equal justice and the rule of law. We work to craft and advance reforms that will make American democracy work, for all.

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