NAACP Urges Passage of Legislation Enabling Public Financing of Congressional Campaigns

LEGISLATION WOULD LIMIT THE ROLE OF BIG-MONEY INTERESTS IN CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS

The cost of a congressional campaign, as well as candidates’ need to raise large amount of money from special interests, has spiraled out of control. In the last election, the cost of the top ten competitive Senate races averaged $34 million per campaign – double what it was just four years ago.

One direct result of this race for campaign money is the perception by voters that candidates are too busy talking to Political Action Committees (PACs) or special interests to listen to their local community-based constituents. To address this compelling problem, the NAACP supports S. 750, the Fair Elections Now Act, introduced by Senator Durbin (IL) and H.R. 1404, introduced by Congressman John Larson (CT). S. 750 / H.R. 1404 allows qualified candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to receive campaign financing from a public fund instead of from lobbyists, big corporations and other special interests.

Based on working models in Maine and Arizona, S. 750 / H.R. 1404 would create a voluntary system that gives candidates who choose to do so the option to stop attending fundraisers and dialing their “friends” for donations without risking a loss to a well-funded opponent. Participating candidates would also be required to show that they are serious contenders by raising qualifying contributions from a minimum number of in-state residents, based on the population of the state.

Once they are able to prove their viability, candidates will then begin to receive money from the “Fair Election Fund.” The amount of money each candidate would receive would be based on the population of the state. Candidates would also receive vouchers for a discount on television and radio time.

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