Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today.
My name is Allie Boldt and I’m a Counsel for Demos. Demos is a non-partisan, national public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. One of our major focus areas is public financing of elections. We believe that adequately resourced public financing programs are key to ensuring that the voices of people of color and working-class people are heard in the democratic process. Demos is a member of the D.C. Fair Elections Coalition, which is made up of more than 70 organizations representing diverse residents, community organizations, ANCs, and interests across the District.
We’re very thankful for the efforts of Chairman Allen and the whole Council for their vote on the Fair Elections Act and hope very much that Mayor Bowser will sign and fund this game-changing program in her budget. As numerous Council Members and experts have previously spoken to, the success of this program is really tied to it being fully funded. We agree. D.C.’s unique, well-designed program can help bring democracy into balance and advance racial equity in the District, but only if it is fully funded. That is why, like other members of the Coalition, I’m here today to ask that the Office of Campaign Finance (“OCF”) be provided the funding it needs to successfully implement the D.C. Fair Elections program, and to pledge that we will continue play an active role throughout the budget and implementation processes.
First, we ask this Committee and the Mayor to make sure that OCF is provided the resources it needs to successfully implement this significant new program, beginning in FY19.
We have concerns that the cost estimates from the December 13, 2017 Financial Impact Statement (“FIS”) are too low. The only OCF costs that appear to be accounted for in the FIS are three auditors and a one-time cost of $62,000 to upgrade OCF’s filing technology. Yet, there are other, critical elements that must be provided for. For instance, in June, OCF Direct Collier-Montgomery testified that for the program to be successful, OCF would need to develop regulations, forms, an education program for candidates and the public, a separate audit unit for the program, and an e-filing system.1 Director Collier-Montgomery was also clear that resources will be required upfront, well before the 2020 election cycle when the program will be in full swing, and we agree. It is critical that resources are committed for FY19, and not just out-years.