Dear Member of Congress,
We, the undersigned organizations and small businesses, call on you to push back against the tide of big money in our elections by co-sponsoring H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act, or S. 2023, the Fair Elections Now Act.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, wealthy special interests and corporations have been able to flood our elections with big money and drown out the voice of average citizens. And the Court’s April decision in McCutcheon will lead to an additional billion dollars in campaign spending from now until 2020, coming from fewer than 3,000 mega-donors.
The results are predictable – candidates court big money donors, often from outside their districts, rather than the constituents they are supposed to be representing.
Empowering small donors is an important way to push back against big money, by amplifying the voice of ordinary citizens through tax credits and matching funds. That way, grassroots candidates who appeal to their voters will be able to compete with candidates who only appeal to out-of-district big donors. The Government By the People Act and the Fair Elections Now Act would match small contributions of under $150 at 6 to 1, for candidates who promise to forgo big donor money. Small donors would also get a refundable $25 tax credit.
These reforms have a track record of increasing the participation, and clout, of ordinary citizens. A similar tax credit was in place from 1971 to 1986, which helped triple small donors’ participation in elections. And cities that have enacted such programs have seen real results – in the latest New York City Council races, after factoring in matching funds small donors were responsible for 61% of the participating candidates’ contributions.
Without strong action, our elections will more and more become the playground of special interests, with ordinary citizens an afterthought. We urge you to cosponsor the Government By the People Act or the Fair Elections Now Act, to reclaim our democracy from the tide of big money.
Irene Cadwell - NCPIRG Program Director