National Civic Summit - Common Cause - Bob Edgar

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National Civic Summit - Common Cause - Bob Edgar

  1. 1. Fair Elections Now: current opportunities for federal campaign reform Bob Edgar, President & CEO Common Cause
  2. 2. A little about me <ul><li>Congress 1975-1987 (“Watergate baby”) </li></ul><ul><li>Claremont School of Theology </li></ul><ul><li>National Council of Churches </li></ul><ul><li>Common Cause </li></ul>
  3. 3. Common Cause <ul><li>Nonpartisan, nonprofit </li></ul><ul><li>Founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a “citizens’ lobby” </li></ul><ul><li>36 state organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly 400,000 members and supporters </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2009 <ul><li>Health care </li></ul><ul><li>Climate </li></ul><ul><li>Defense/military spending </li></ul><ul><li>And more </li></ul>
  5. 5. And the biggest crisis of 2009
  6. 6. And the biggest crisis of 2009 <ul><li>The economy </li></ul>
  7. 7. Financial crisis <ul><li>Lobbying and Contributions: Members of Bankruptcy Coalition in 2007-2008 </li></ul>Organization Lobbying Contributions Total 2007 2008 2007-2008 American Bankers Association $6,171,648 $4,479,157 $2,008,488 $12,659,293 American Financial Services Association $200,000 $100,000 $118,500 $418,500 Bank of America $3,220,000 $2,260,000 $1,677,742 $7,157,742 Citigroup $8,480,000 $3,830,000 $593,501 $12,903,501 Consumer Bankers Association* $2,494,000 $1,238,000 $23,975 $3,755,975 Countrywide Financial Corporation $1,323,000 $706,000 $295,813 $2,324,813 Financial Services Roundtable $6,380,000 $4,360,000 $256,829 $10,996,829 Huntington Bancshares $100,214 $143,483 $112,800 $356,497 Ind. Community Bankers of America $3,428,985 $2,060,000 $694,667 $6,183,652 Mortgage Bankers Association $2,988,387 $2,364,683 $622,175 $5,975,245 Wachovia $1,360,000 $925,000 $662,152 $2,947,152 Total $36,146,234 $22,466,323 $7,066,642 $65,679,199 Source: Center for Responsive Politics
  8. 8. Health care
  9. 9. Health care (from “Legislating Under the Influence”) Health industries ’ campaign contributions to Congress, 2000-2008 Year / Industry Health Insurance Health Professionals Health Institutions Pharmaceutical & Health Products Total 2000 $12,904,634 $23,550,535 $6,508,361 $9,636,509 $52,600,039 2002 $12,437,381 $25,972,838 $6,875,944 $9,041,329 $54,327,492 2004 $19,324,441 $39,125,256 $10,723,010 $14,258,163 $83,430,870 2006 $18,709,649 $40,598,829 $11,278,207 $17,857,826 $88,444,511 2008 $20,319,441 $43,367,160 $11,864,268 $18,582,414 $94,133,283 Total $83,695,546 $172,614,618 $47,249,790 $69,376,241 $372,936,195
  10. 10. Climate crisis << Contributions by the energy industries and environmental groups in the 2008 election cycle (in millions)
  11. 11. Why so much money? <ul><li>And in 2008, average incumbent raised: </li></ul><ul><li>$1,353,320 (House) $8,705,986 (Senate) </li></ul>Because the price of a seat keeps rising Funds raised by winning candidates: House Senate 2006 $1,253,031 $9,635,370 2004 $1,034,224 $7,840,976 2002 $898,184 $5,373,841 2000 $840,300 $7,266,576 1998 $650,428 $5,227,761 1996 $673,739 $4,692,110
  12. 12. Not an easy time to be a member of Congress (or the President) <ul><li>Economy </li></ul><ul><li>Health care </li></ul><ul><li>Climate </li></ul><ul><li>Defense/military spending </li></ul><ul><li>And more </li></ul>+
  13. 13. How to raise it all?
  14. 14. How to raise it all?
  15. 15. “ That’s me during ‘call time,’ which is basically what candidates for public office do all day.” - Al Franken, 2007 How to raise it all? (the honest way)
  16. 16. How much call time? ~20 hours a week And that’s not even during “campaign season.”
  17. 17. Our goal: Change the way we finance elections. Get elected officials out of the endless fundraising race so they can do the job we elected them to do.
  18. 18. Public sees it – not just a policy problem, but a trust problem <ul><li>73% of voters believe that large campaign contributions from the banking industry to Congress helped lead to current crisis </li></ul><ul><li>60% of voters believe Congress puts the interests of campaign contributors over constituents </li></ul><ul><li>(Lake Research and Tarrance Group poll, February 2009) </li></ul>
  19. 19. We must change the system <ul><li>Citizen-funded elections: </li></ul><ul><li>Fair Elections Now Act – for Congress </li></ul><ul><li>Fix the presidential public financing system </li></ul>
  20. 20. Citizen funded elections work. <ul><li>Maine – 85% of legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Arizona – 54% of legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Connecticut – 81% of legislature </li></ul><ul><li>North Carolina – 68% of judicial seats, 2/3 of Council of State </li></ul><ul><li>Albuquerque, NM and Portland, OR – municipal public financing </li></ul><ul><li>And more… </li></ul>
  21. 21. “ I got to spend time with voters as opposed to dialing for dollars, or trying to sell tickets to $250-a-plate fundraisers. This was much better.” Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D), 2004
  22. 22. Fair Elections Now Act <ul><li>Only small, individual contributions of $100 or less </li></ul><ul><li>Qualified candidates get grant plus matching funds for additional small contributions. Once they reach matching fund cap, can continue raising small contributions. (Always $100 or less.) </li></ul><ul><li>Three steps: </li></ul><ul><li>Qualify: raise enough in small individual contribs from home state </li></ul><ul><li>Primary: grant, can continue raising small contribs. </li></ul><ul><li>General: grant, can continue raising small contribs. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Fair Elections Now Act: supporters <ul><li>Public : polls show more than 3-to-1 support among voters </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations : civil rights, environmental, labor, youth, religious groups </li></ul><ul><li>Unlikely allies : business leaders, lobbyists, political donors </li></ul><ul><li>President Obama : cosponsor of Fair Elections Now Act in last Congress, pledged support as presidential candidate </li></ul>
  24. 24. Public support <ul><li>Nationwide bipartisan poll, February 2009: </li></ul><ul><li>More than three-to-one support (67% / 20%) </li></ul><ul><li>73% believe that large campaign contributions from the banking industry to Congress helped lead to current crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Four out of five (79%) worry that Congress won’t be able to tackle important issues like the economic crisis, energy, health care, and global warming because of the influence of large campaign contributors. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Organizations support
  26. 26. Presidential * Model : now parallel to Fair Elections system * White House : likely to be engaged and support (Norm Eisen) Opportunity : work presidential and congressional together Message: similar, plus “if it’s good enough for one, it should be good enough for the other!”
  27. 27. Now what? Make the case <ul><li>Media and publicity: health care fight, climate fight, defense spending fight </li></ul><ul><li>Build base of support: grassroots, state orgs, national orgs </li></ul><ul><li>Lobbying in DC </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on two best poll-tested messages: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Elected officials out of endless fundraising race. 2. End pay-to-play politics. </li></ul><ul><li>Pass the bill! </li></ul>
  28. 28. What can we do now? <ul><li>Get endorsements of bills from local and state groups </li></ul><ul><li>Spread the word to civic groups, friends, and family to take action by contacting Congress: www.commoncause.org/SupportFairElections </li></ul><ul><li>Work for local citizen-funded elections in your city or state </li></ul><ul><li>Learn more: www.commoncause.org/FairElections </li></ul>
  29. 29. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) (Video)

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