New Jersey's Courier-News profiled Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly this weekend. The article talks about what drew Donnelly to his work, which includes having managed the winning Maine and Massachusetts Clean Elections campaigns, and having developed innovative efforts to hold Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed accountable.
Having seen the corrosive effects of political fundraising first-hand, Donnelly saw the promise in a Clean Elections alternative:
Donnelly served as a campaign aide to U.S. Rep. Thomas H. Andrews, a Democrat who ran for U.S. Senate in Maine in 1994. He said he saw Andrews spend hours in darkened rooms on the phone asking donors for dollars instead of talking to voters about the issues.
"I could tell it was wringing the life out of him," Donnelly said.
Donnelly said he was converted to the notion that it was time for the system to change.
So he served as the campaign manager for the Maine Clean Elections referendum. In order to get the measure on the statewide ballot, Donnelly led some 1,100 volunteers, who gathered 65,000 signatures in one 14-hour effort.
Donnelly headed south to Massachusetts where he won again -- and lost. His group managed to pass a statewide referendum for a Clean Elections program, but the state Legislature refused to fund it.