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Hearing on Congressional Fair Elections Now Act in House Committee on Administration Today

Today the House Administration Committee will hear testimony from four members of Congress about the Fair Elections Now Act—a major piece of legislation for campaign finance reform. FENA would allow congressional candidates to use public money and small donations to fund their campaigns, and has been hailed by the Brennan Center as “the best way to advance a robust [electoral] system.”

  • Laura MacCleery
July 30, 2009

There will be a hearing today in the House of Representatives’ Committee on House Administration beginning at 11 a.m. The hearing will be live Web cast by streaming video.   

The House Administration Committee will hear testimony from four members of Congress, including Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-Conn.), two election experts, and the Speaker of Maine House of Representatives, in support of sweeping campaign finance reform legislation, the Fair Elections Now Act (HR 1826). 

Introduced by Rep. Larson and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) would allow congressional candidates to run for office with a mixture of small donations and public financing. In addition to Larson and Jones, the committee also will hear testimony from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Maine Speaker Hannah Pingree (D), Connecticut elections administrator Jeff Garfield, and Arn Pearson, vice president of programs at Common Cause.  

In a press release issued this morning by the coalition of reform groups supporting passage of FENA, Susan Liss, Director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program noted that “The Supreme Court is fully behind voluntary public financing systems. This is the best way to advance a robust system for more public participation in elections.”   

Also today, an advertisement from prominent business leaders ran in print in Roll Call and on-line in Politico calling on politicians to enact a system of fair elections. The ad, which includes signatories from Crate & Barrel, Sunnyvale Farms and other large companies, and calls upon Congress to “terminate” the “mutually wasteful, degrading process” of fundraising, saying that, as business leaders, they are: 

    on the receiving end of Senators’ and Representatives’ endless fund-raising calls. And trust us: we hate getting those calls every bit as much as they hate making them. Each hour in 2008, campaigners for federal office got on the horn and raised $600,000. That’s $14 million each day, $100 million each week, $5 billion for the year! Elected officials spend so much time dialing for dollars it’s as if they’re moonlighting a second job. With the economy, health care, energy and so many other issues at stake, who has time for that?  

The ad has already garnered some press attention and notice. Law & Order star’s Sam Waterston also paid a visit to several key Capitol Hill leaders yesterday to drum up support for the measure. (Waterston’s very moving speech to our own campaign finance conference in May is on-line here.)