New Congress Has Strong Mandate to Put Voters First
More than 100 Members Support Fundamental Campaign Finance Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Voters on Tuesday gave Congress a mandate to prevent future corruption and ethical scandals by electing 108 candidates who support fundamental campaign finance reform. These future lawmakers either signed a Voters First Pledge, which commits them to support public funding of congressional elections along with lobbying and ethics reform, or were co-sponsors of federal legislation to establish full public funding of congressional elections.
The Voters First Pledge drive put candidates on record supporting an end to the pay-to-play culture in Washington. It was developed by Common Cause, Public Campaign Action Fund, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG. Over the past several months, grassroots activists from these groups worked to persuade candidates sign the pledge and take a stand to make the government work for voters instead of big money campaign donors.
At least twenty incoming freshmen House members have signed the pledge (some results are yet to be determined), as did 73 incumbents who were re-elected. At this writing, more than half (10 of 19) of Democratic challengers who beat Republican incumbents in the House were signatories on the pledge. An additional 14 incumbents are currently co-sponsors of a House Clean Elections Bill, H.R. 3099. In races yet to be determined, six candidates – including both in the 2nd district in Connecticut – signed the pledge. Also, Senate winners in several races — Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin — signed this pledge.
In all, at least 108 members of House in the 110th Congress from a diversity of districts and political philosophies are now on record in support of public financing. This number is easily more than doubles the co-sponsors of the public financing bill, H.R. 3099, from the 109th Congress.
The groups released the following joint statement:
“Voters are fed up with pay-to-play politics that do not work well for anyone. Candidates dislike the constant fundraising from special interests. Voters feel shut out of the process. These new lawmakers – and a growing number of incumbents – realize it is time to fundamentally overhaul the campaign finance system. The current, broken campaign system has failed us time and time again. We are encouraged that at least 108 members of the next Congress support a system that puts the public interest ahead of special interests.
“We look forward to working with these newly elected politicians to help them keep their promise to co-sponsor and vote for Clean Elections-style public funding of elections.
“In every election with a significant number of new members, this new blood means new ideas. In a political system dominated by special interests and pay-to-play scandals, newly elected members of Congress can take the lead on restoring accountability and common sense to the financing of elections.”
The groups also noted success at the state level with Clean Elections—or publicly financed elections—results from the states. In North Carolina, five out of six judicial seats on the ballot were won by candidates who ran with public funding. Results from other Clean Elections states—Arizona, New Mexico, and Maine—are still being counted. In Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano, won re-election as a Clean Elections candidate. Other results will be released as soon as they are available.
The Voters First Pledge is the result of a joint effort by Public Campaign Action Fund, Common Cause, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG and other national and state organizations. The Pledge was mailed in mid-June to every federal candidate registered with the Federal Elections Commission. For more information about the pledge and the candidates who signed on, visit VotersFirstPledge.org.