Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Public Financing for Fair Representation

By Andrew Gall.

My number one policy priority is to limit the undue influence of moneyed interests in the legislative process through public financing of elections. Of course there are sexier issues like climate change, which I am also passionate about, but to effectively legislate carbon emissions (or any other issue for that matter), we first have to address the role of money in politics. It is the reform that makes all other reforms possible. The quid pro quo politics of privately funded elections skews our free market system toward wealthy entrenched interests, limits the opportunities for regular working people to hold elected office, and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars through paybacks to corporate donors via subsidies, no-bid contracts, pork, regulatory loopholes, and tax breaks. To get politicians to serve the public interest, we need public financing of elections.

My opponent, Steny Hoyer, is a part of the problem. His rise to Majority Leader was predicated on his ability to raise tremendous sums from corporate interests and produce a return on their investments by whipping up votes and carving out loopholes for these donors. The Washington Post recently disclosed that his PAC has spent $52,700 within the past two years on extravagant trips with special interest groups. He is also trying to delay the DISCLOSE ACT that would bring transparency to campaign finance. It was crafted in response to the Citizens United Supreme Court case and would shine more light on who pays for campaign ads. The bill is a movement in the right direction and the fact that Rep. Hoyer does not favor this small step forward shows his commitment to the current pay-to-play rules.

Jamie Raskin has been particularly good about advocating for robust disclosure requirements and public financing at the state level, and by electing me, Maryland can also have a leader that will fight to limit the undue influence of corporate money at the federal level. Public financing is essential if Americans want a voice in Congress. Reforming how campaigns are financed will level the playing field for candidates, allowing them to run effective campaigns without forcing open their pockets to special interests. Lets all support candidates that will commit to giving power back to the people through election reform.

Andrew Gall is a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 5th District.