The Role of Money in Politics
By Democracy Matters at
Oklahoma State University
HOW DO PRIVATELY FUNDED
ELECTIONS WORK?
IS THERE ANY WAY WE CAN
MAKE CONGRESS
ACCOUNTABLE TO THE
PEOPLE AGAIN?
YES, AND THIS PLAN EVEN
HAS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
FROM CONGRESS AND
VOTERS
WHO IS FIGHTING FOR CLEAN
AND FAIR ELECTIONS
EVERYDAY?
WE ARE.
Publicly Financed Campaigns to Strengthen American Democracy with the Fair Elections Now Act, special
interest lobbyists will hold no more influence over clean candidates than do average American citizens.
Legislation written and passed by clean candidates will be representative of the needs of their constituents and
community. Clean candidates do not have to worry about fundraising and can focus their time in office on
representing voters instead of donors. Once elected, clean candidates will represent the interests of voters
instead of big donors and special interest lobbyists. Released from having to cater to big donors, clean
candidates are able to do the grassroots mobilization and voter outreach that puts them in direct contact with
voters. Maine, Arizona, Vermont, Connecticut, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon all have successful
forms of a fair election system. 84% of the Maine legislature are clean candidates. When a candidate receives
public funding, they are considered a clean candidate and are no longer allowed to raise or spend any private
money. To demonstrate broad public support, a candidate must gather signatures supporting their candidacy and
small donations that go to fund the fair elections system. Those who demonstrate leadership and have good
ideas for their community are given the opportunity to run a competitive campaign, regardless of their own wealth
or access to other people’s wealth. It is a voluntary system that protects free speech; other candidates can still
choose to raise and spend private money. To qualify for public financing, candidates must demonstrate that they
have significant public support from their constituency. To gain favor with big donors, politicians write and pass
legislation that favors them at the expense of the public good. Conflicts of interest arise when politicians take
money from the same industries for which they must write laws. Instead of focusing on the needs of the people,
politicians spend 1/3 of their time in office raising money for their next campaign. To get wealthy special interest
money, politicians need to appeal to their needs and interests. Only 0.25% of the population in America donates
$200 or more to a political campaign. The majority of campaign funding comes from corporations, banks,
billionaires, & wealthy special interests. Donating more money to campaigns gains greater influence over
politicians who are in office. To raise money for their campaign, politicians solicit donations from wealthy people
and groups. Candidates have to raise and use private funds to finance their campaigns. Campaign staff, office
space, advertisements, travel, etc., cost lots of money. In over 90% of congressional races, the candidate who
raises the most money wins. To get elected, candidates are forced to run competitive and costly campaigns.