Congressman John B. Larson announced today that H.R. 1404, the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), has gained its 100th co-sponsor in the United States House of Representatives. Backed by a broad coalition, Congressman Larson introduced FENA as a bi-partisan act to take the influence of big money out of our campaign finance system.
"Anyone who has turned on the TV lately can see the corrosive effect of essentially unlimited money being spent to buy our elections. That flood of money is in no small part responsible for the growing cynicism and despair Americans feel about our government," said Larson. "The Fair Elections Now Act is intended to let lawmakers get back to the work they came to Washington to do without spending their time in a hunt for campaign dollars. With 100 co-sponsors, I'm proud to be able to say that FENA has gained the support of over half the Democratic Caucus, but we'll keep on working to gain broad bipartisan support for this much needed reform."
States around the country have acted as laboratories for election reform like the Fair Elections Act. They've shown overwhelming success in reducing the influence of big donors and letting lawmakers get back to doing the people's business. Now it is time to take the lessons learned in our states and cities and enact the Fair Elections Act on a federal level.
FENA creates a voluntary system that allows candidates to spend their time meeting with constituents and working on issues most important to their communities instead of dialing for big dollars.
Here's how it would work:
* The program is completely voluntary -- no candidate for Congress is compelled to use it.
* Candidates must raise a minimum level of small individual contributions to qualify for the program. Once they qualify, candidates will abide by various restrictions and disclosure requirements.
* Qualified candidates will receive an up-front grant, based on the average costs of winning campaigns in recent elections for their primary campaigns, and if nominated, another grant for their general election campaign.
* Candidates will also receive a match for contributions of $100 or less from an individual; that match will stop after a certain spending level is reached, but candidates may continue to raise donations of up to $100 per individual without a match.