MIL-OSI USA: CLARKE, SARBANES, NEGUSE AND PINGREE REINTRODUCE GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE ACT TO COUNTER BIG MONEY INFLUENCE IN POLITICS

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke (9th District of New York)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 10, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: 

e: brian.phillips@mail.house.gov

c: 202.913.0126

Washington, D.C. — To combat the perverse influence of big money in U.S. politics and return power to everyday Americans, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) joined Representatives Joe Neguse, John Sarbanes and Chellie Pingree to reintroduce the Government by the People Act. This legislation would increase civic engagement and amplify the voices of all Americans over special interests by creating a small-donor matching program to power the campaigns of candidates running for the House of Representatives. Core components of the bill have consistently been included in the For the People Act, which was passed as H.R. 1 in both the 116th Congress and 117th Congress. 

More than three dozen states and localities currently have candidate financing systems that are driven by small donors. These programs consistently demonstrate their power to transform our politics. In a post-Citizens United world, these programs offer an effective way to reduce the influence of wealthy special interests and encourage new and more diverse donor participation while providing opportunities for more diverse candidates.

“One of the founding principles of our nation is the idea that the federal government was made for the people and by the people. And the influence of big money in our political system demands that we work to fundamentally shift power away from special interests and give it back to the American people. That is why I am proud to join my colleague, Congressman John Sarbanes, in reintroducing the Government by the People Act—legislation that would counter the influence of big money in politics by increasing civic engagement and uplifting the voices of everyday people. This bill is part of the larger fight to protect the sacred right to vote and ensure the sanctity of our democracy. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote,” said Rep. Clarke.

Specifically, the Government by the People Act would establish:

  • A ‘Freedom from Influence Fund’ to multiply the influence of small-dollar contributions. The Fund—made possible by a new surcharge on corporate lawbreakers and tax cheats—would match contributions of $200 or less per individual, per election, provided that the receiving candidate forgoes special interest contributions and focuses on earning support from small-dollar donors.
  • A ‘My Voice Voucher’ pilot program in three states to spur small-dollar donations to House of Representatives candidates. The pilot program would be overseen and administered by a state oversight commission and allow qualified individuals to request a $25 voucher to allocate in increments of $5 to candidates.

“We must do more to eliminate dark money from flooding our electoral system, and that is why I am proud to join Rep. Sarbanes in co-sponsoring this critical legislation and ensuring that every American is heard fairly at the ballot box,” said Rep. Neguse (D-CO).

“Big-moneyed special interests continue to stand in the way of the progress that voters overwhelmingly want on issues from climate change to reproductive rights and gun safety,” said Congressman Sarbanes (D-MD). “It’s past time to end the reliance on wealthy donors by passing legislation that levels the playing field for voters. The Government by the People Act will provide candidates with the resources they need to run competitive campaigns without leaning on big money donors and special interests, helping return us to a government of, by and for the American people.”

“The Clean Elections system has been successful in the Maine Legislature and is expanding to our cities like Portland to rid elections of special-interest contributions,” said Rep. Pingree (D-ME). “The Government by the People Act gives Congress an opportunity to take lessons learned from Maine’s successes to level the playing field in federal elections, focus on small donors and close the door on dark money in politics.”

“Democracy 21 strongly applauds Rep. Sarbanes and his co-leaders this Congress, Reps. Neguse, Clarke and Pingree, for introducing the vitally important Government by the People Act. Democracy 21 greatly appreciates the extraordinary leadership that Rep. Sarbanes has provided for the country for years in the ongoing battle to repair the broken campaign finance system in Washington,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. “Billionaires, millionaires, lobbyists, bundlers, Super PACs, dark money nonprofits and special interest PACs flood Washington with political money. This money is given for a reason – to influence legislators and impact legislation, often at the expense of everyday Americans. The small-donor, matching funds system, developed by Rep. Sarbanes, is an alternative and innovative way to finance campaigns and lessen the stranglehold of big money on our elections. This new system would allow candidates to run for federal office without being dependent on or obligated to influence-seeking big money donors. It is essential that this legislation be enacted to end the domination of influence-seeking political money in our nation’s capital.”

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