Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joined Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth this week in re-introducing the (H. R. 269) Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), which would provide public financing for Congressional campaigns and enable small donors to play on the same field as special interests and encourage a more diverse pool of candidates.
"Clean elections has worked well in the Maine Legislature and it's allowed candidates to spend more time talking to the people they want to represent and less time on the phone asking for donations," Pingree said. "We should take the lessons we learned in Maine to Washington and create a public finance system for Congressional elections that levels the playing field and focuses on small donors."
Pingree first introduced FENA in 2009 and reintroduced the bill with Congressman Yarmuth yesterday. The bill currently has 52 co-sponsors.
The legislation is designed to leverage small donor contributions by providing a 5-to-1 federal match of contributions below $100 from residents of a candidate's state in both the primary and general elections. The voluntary program would also provide grants to ensure that primary winners are competitive in general elections.
The bill was introduced this weekalongside two other pieces of legislation designed to blunt the impact of big money in politics.
The Empowering Citizens Act reforms the small donor matching system for Presidential campaigns, with a new title creating a similar small donor matching system for Congressional elections. The bill also blunts the impact of Super PACs by strengthening anti-coordination rules to prohibit candidate-specific Super PACs from operating as arms of candidate campaigns.
The Grassroots Democracy Act is a three-pronged reform proposal that empowers everyday Americans with a refundable tax credit to participate in campaign giving; amplifies the impact of grassroots donations with a multiple match framework to fund campaigns of grassroots candidates; and fights back against unlimited outside spending with a People's Fund, which provides additional financial support in races where the voices of grassroots candidates are being drowned out.