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BC | Fair Elections Now Act Would Break Special Interest Grip on Congress

Bipartisan bill introduced introduced in both houses of Congress. The proposal would provide qualified congressional candidates Fair Elections funding to run a viable campaign in exchange for agreeing to take no contribution larger than $100.

March 31, 2009

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, 212-998-6289 or 646-265-7721
Susan Lehman, 212-998-6318

Major Bill to Boost the Role of Small Donors

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced a set of bipartisan bills that could radically transform Congress and boost the role of small donors. Called the Fair Elections Now Act, the proposal would help loosen the special interest hold on Congress and change the way things are done in Washington.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a coalition of other good-government groups helped craft this crucial legislation. Also sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the proposal provides qualified congressional candidates Fair Elections funding to run a viable campaign if they agree to take no contributions larger than $100 and by first raising a large number of small contributions from their home states. Those contributions would be matched on a four-to-one basis, up to a certain point.

"Congress is facing a number of enormous challenges, including the collapse of our financial institutions and its impact on Main Street," says Laura MacCleery, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "Strong oversight and bold solutions are needed today more than ever. The Fair Elections system would allow members of Congress to act in the interest of the country rather than contributors."

The Fair Elections Now Act is modeled after elements of similar programs in states like Arizona, Connecticut, Maine and North Carolina. Their success also showed that a more diverse pool of candidates can run under a system like Fair Elections, ensuring that elections will be a contest of ideas, rather than a competition of corporate fundraising.

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or at jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu or Susan Lehman at 212-998-6318 or susan.lehman@nyu.edu. Additional information will be available at http://www.fairelectionsnow.org, including polling information, a bill summary, and facts and figures about money in recent elections.

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