Public financing of elections, as a state and local democracy reform, can help enhance the political voice and power of working-class people and people of color. It is an effective antidote to the outsized influence corporations and major donors currently have on both politics and policy.
In 2012, just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the $285.2 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.
After getting the First Amendment supremely wrong in Citizens United, the Supreme Court now faces its next money in politics case. In McCutcheon v. FEC, the challengers are attacking a law that says that no one person can contribute over $123,000 directly to federal candidates, parties, and committees—that’s over twice the average American’s income.
Baltimore’s campaign donors lack diversity across race, gender, and socioeconomic status. The Baltimore Fair Election Fund, designed with equity and community engagement at the forefront, can change that.
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a pair of decisions affirming campaign finance disclosure provisions in Maine and Rhode Island. I let out a sigh of relief when I read them.
One grievance of the protesters targeting Wall Street is that financial elites wield way too much power in our democracy. That complaint is hardly new, but the latest figures on money in politics tells a truly troubling story about the vast resources that Wall Street has put into shaping both the legislative process and elections.
Occupy Wall Street has already accomplished a great deal by shifting public discourse in this country. Instead of focusing on the need for austerity and deficit reduction, attention is rightly being directed at economic disparities and the deep structural problems that the United States faces.