November 11, 2007
In a rare candid moment a U.S. Senator told a group of constituents that he wished he could spend more time on legislative matters — he felt he had to spend way too much time doing fundraising. So instead of being able to devote his attention to the job the voters had sent him to Washington to do, he had to allocate a significant chunk of time to dialing for dollars or attending fundraising events. This Senator said he would favor public financing of campaigns — so he could spend more time on lawmaking and less on seeking cash for the next campaign.
The good news is that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced S. 1285, a bill that looks like the dream bill for senators like the one described above who want to change the way Senate campaigns are financed. The Fair Elections Now Act is supported by a consortium made up of Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Democracy Matters, the Public Campaign, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.
While this seems to be a novel approach for U.S. Senate candidates, publicly financing of campaigns has been successfully deployed on the state level in Arizona and Maine and in municipalities like Portland, Oregon (where the catchy phrase “voter owned elections” is used to describe it). Read the rest of this entry »