Press Releases

With Public Financing of Elections, DC Can Set Standard for Campaign Reform

Friday, November 2, 2012

Washington, D.C. --The Communications Workers of America, along with the Metropolitan DC AFL-CIO and other organizations, strongly supports the “Public Financing of Elections Act of 2012,” a measure that would provide for public financing of Washington, D.C. elected offices.

Shane Larson, CWA’s legislative director, told the D.C. Council Committee on Government Operations that this measure will help restore our broken political system and end a system of election campaigns primarily financed by corporations and the wealthy.

Larson cited the New York City model, in place for more than 20 years, as an example of “one of the most democratic and politically viable campaign finance reforms in our nation.”  The proposed measure for Washington, D.C., calls for a panel to review and develop a system of public financing for District election, based on the New York City model.

The most important part of the New York program was “the introduction of the public match of small donor donations made by city residents,” which amplifies the effectiveness of smaller donations, Larson said. That means a single $175 donation from a NYC resident would result in an overall contribution of $1,225.

The results of the NYC system have been phenomenal, he said, noting that candidates remain more responsive to their constituents, whose contributions would actually have more value, than out-of-city interests, and citizens are more likely to participate because they know their contributions actually count, he said. “Participation rates by small dollar donors in NYC have grown by 40 percent,” he added.

Other benefits include a stronger tie between the candidate or elected official, and her or his constituents, as candidates combine fundraising with voter outreach.  Ordinary citizens get the attention and focus they deserve from elected officials and others running for office, as candidates spend less time on “high dollar donor maintenance,” Larson said.

“The end result: get big money out, get voters back in. That is exactly what this critical reform is all about. CWA urges swift passage of the Public Financing of Elections Act of 2012,” Larson said.

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Contact: Candice Johnson, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168, cjohnson@cwa-union.org