Government By the People Act Shows Need for Campaign Finance Reform

February 5, 2014

Today, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced important new campaign finance reform legislation, the Government By the People Act.  The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law issued the following statement from President Michael Waldman:

"Too often today, elections are dominated by big donors who can afford to buy political access. Congressional dysfunction is one predictable result. Comprehensive campaign finance reform, including public financing of elections, is needed to empower those average voters who are shut out under the current system.

"The Brennan Center continues to strongly support the Empowering Citizens Act introduced by Reps. David Price and Chris Van Hollen, which provides the most comprehensive solution to this systemic problem. It would institute a system for small donor matching funds in congressional and presidential elections, strengthen enforcement to reduce corruption, and eliminate campaign-specific Super PACs that take advantage of loopholes in current campaign finance law. This bipartisan bill draws on the lessons learned from the successful system in New York City and elsewhere, and from a proposal published by the Brennan Center and Democracy 21.

"Today, Rep. Sarbanes introduced the Government By the People Act. It seeks to make Congress more accountable to ordinary citizens by creating a system of voluntary public financing for congressional elections. If enacted, it would be a big stride for democracy. The Brennan Center is pleased to endorse this valuable step toward fair elections.

"Voluntary small donor public financing must be at the heart of any reform. We are greatly encouraged by the growing momentum for this approach. Four years after Citizens United, an innovative system of reform can give ordinary citizens the loudest voice, even in the face of Super PACs and secret money."

Read the Brennan Center's report, Empowering Small Donors in Federal Elections. Also see our resources on the influence of money on American politics, including the success of New York City's public financing system.

For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact Naren Daniel at naren.daniel@nyu.edu or 646-292-8381.