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Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 487-0518
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Members, Experts Testify at Congressional Hearing for Fair Elections Now Act
Bipartisan legislation gaining momentum, nearly 75 cosponsors
WASHINGTON - The House
Administration Committee heard testimony today from four members of
Congress, including Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-Conn.), two
election experts, and the Speaker of Maine House of Representatives, in
support of sweeping campaign finance reform legislation, the Fair
Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826).
Introduced by Rep.
Larson and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the Fair Elections Now Act would
allow congressional candidates to run for office with a mixture of
small donations and public financing. In addition to Larson and Jones,
the committee also heard testimony from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine),
Maine Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (D), Connecticut elections
administrator Jeff Garfield, and Arn Pearson, vice president of
programs at Common Cause. Pearson urged members to support the
legislation to make it easier on themselves.
"Your job is not an easy one," said Pearson, a national campaign
finance expert who has implemented and defended state public financing
programs in Maine and Connecticut. "The problems facing America are
daunting, yet by most estimates, you spend more than a quarter of your
time fundraising, often from those who have a direct financial stake in
what you do. Clearly we need to change the way American pays for
elections." Click here to read Pearson's full testimony.
president and CEO of Public Campaign, agreed. "With the health care
debate raging in Congress during the day, members of Congress should
not be placed into the position of raising money from insurance and big
pharmaceutical company lobbyists and executives at night," Nyhart said.
"We applaud Rep. Larson's leadership and the support from so many
members of Congress."
U.S.PIRG's democracy advocate stated, "as Congress and agencies take
steps to end the free-for-all environment of Wall Street, the time has
never been better stem the tide of special interest money. The landmark
legislation being discussed at today's hearing offers a realistic
alternative to our current corrosive system for those who seek a
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Congress stands at the brink of fundamentally changing 'politics as
usual,'" said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress
Watch. "Americans are demanding dramatic changes in
transparency in government, and more accountability of money in
politics. Now is the time for Congress to pass the most crucial reform
- reducing the role of special interest money in campaigns."
"The Supreme Court is
fully behind voluntary public financing systems. This is the best and
the most constitutionally sound way to advance a robust system for more
public participation in elections," said Susan Liss, director of the
Brennan Center's Democracy Program.
The coalition backing
the measure include the Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress,
Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and
U.S. PIRG. A broad coalition of civic, online, advocacy, union, church,
environmental, and civil rights groups have endorsed the campaign
reform measure. For more information about the bill and the coalition,
Go to http://www.fairelectionsnow.org/bizleader to see the business leader ad in support of the Fair Elections Now Act running in today's Roll Call newspaper.
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