It is time to take special interest money out of politics.
From the shady dealings of Jack Abramoff to the infamous K Street Project, the corrosive effect of money in politics has undermined the integrity of our democracy.
Today's political campaigns are getting more expensive every year, and even good candidates with the best of intentions must too often turn to special interests to raise the millions of dollars necessary to win a competitive race. As long as that is the case, people will ask -- justifiably -- if their elected officials are standing up for a policy because it is good for the people, or good for the special interests writing the checks.
The system is broken. It's time for a new approach. That is why I am introducing the "Fair Elections Now Act." It would break the dependence on special interest money in U.S. Senate elections once and for all by providing public funds to qualified candidates.
The "Fair Elections Now Act" would create a fair system of public funding to restore Americans' confidence in our elections process and break the dependency on special interest lobbyists for campaign contributions. There are four major components:
- Seed Money: Allow candidates to raise a limited amount of seed money, capped at $100 per contributor, to get their campaigns up and running
- Qualifying for Public Funds: Candidates must raise a specified number (based on the size of the state) of $5 contributions from residents of their state in order to demonstrate that they are serious, viable candidates
- Allocation of Public Funds: Once a candidate qualifies for public funding, he or she is eligible to receive a minimum of $750,000, plus an additional $150,000 for every Congressional District in the state minus one
- "Fair Fight" Funds: If a candidate is being outspent by independent expenditures or an opponent who has refused public financing, the law would match that spending dollar-for-dollar up to 200 percent of the base allocation
My approach is simple, fair, and would free U.S. Senate candidates from depending on special interests to run their campaigns -- for good.
Our system of government is based on the idea that our leaders have just one thing in mind when they make decisions: the good of the people they represent. Instead, they spend countless hours each day on the phone and at receptions raising money for their next race. We just can't allow that to continue.
No amount of reform can fix our current system of private financing. It's time to end it and to create a responsible system of public funding in its place. I hope that I can count on your support.