Freshmening Up

A stable of freshman Representatives who ousted incumbents tied to fundraising scandals have put their muscle behind proposals to overhaul the way candidates for Congress finance their campaigns, including public financing. This article in Roll Call (subscription req.) looks at who is lining up behind public financing.

 

With public financing legislation introduced with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate this year in the form on the "Clean Money, Clean Elections Act" in the House and the "Fair Elections Now Act" in the Senate; and with the spectre of Jack Abramoff still haunting the halls of Congress talk of substantive change to our campaign finance system has been re-energized. And new members of Congress are taking strong positions in favor:

 

During a news conference last week to show their support for a proposal
by Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) to end Congressional self-policing on ethics
matters, almost every one of the 18 freshmen present said they want
institutional changes beyond those already made during what Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called "the first 100 hours" of Democratic
rule.

Those measures were a good start and got at matters "around the
edges," but now the powerful freshman class is looking for something
"meatier," Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) said.

A good example is public financing for Congressional and presidential
campaigns, she said.

"Many of us talk about public financing," she said.

"The ultimate solution is real, fundamental overhaul of the campaign
finance system," agreed Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.).

The freshmen, many of whom unseated Republican incumbents by promising
to eliminate the corruption and conflict-of-interest scandals exposed
during the past few years, meet weekly with Pelosi.

Wasting no time, the subject of public financing was broached during
last week's meeting with the Speaker.

The will to change the system will have to come from within Congress itself, and with this new class of lawmakers helping to lead the charge and avoid the corruption pitfalls that plagued their predecessors we have our best chance yet to move public financing from possibility to policy.