Blog — Elections

October 30, 2015

Maine and Seattle Can Step Up Where D.C. Falls Short

By Jennifer Ahearn

Next week is election week around the country, and it’s a big week, not just for the politicians whose names are on ballots. Citizens in Seattle and Maine have the chance to lead the way toward fairer campaign financing everywhere when they consider ballot measures that would change how they run local elections.

In Seattle, the main innovation is a plan to fight fire with fire by publicly financing city elections. Every registered voter in the city would receive, free, four $25 coupons, known as “democracy vouchers,” that they could give to candidates of their choice in local elections. So, instead of limiting certain kinds of spending, which can be difficult after recent Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC, Seattle’s plan would give spending power to citizens who don’t otherwise have it. 

Maine’s Clean Election Act has been an example of public funding working on the state level since the 2000 elections; at one point, 85 percent of Maine’s state legislature was reportedly elected using this process.  However, Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United v. FEC and Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett (a decision that limited some aspects of public financing of elections) undermined Maine’s system; next week, Mainers will vote on a plan to revitalize it. In addition to ensuring that the funding is sufficient and strengthening penalties for breaking the rules, Maine’s ballot initiative would increase disclosure requirements even for those running “issue” ads, so voters know the top three donors who paid for any of those ads. 

Seattle and Maine are both examples of local jurisdictions developing solutions that work for them, not waiting around for a nationwide solution that could be a long time coming. The people of Seattle and Maine should seize this opportunity and support their respective ballot measures, helping to move the country piece by piece toward elections where regular people can compete with moneyed interests for influence.

Single Candidate (c)(4) Fails At Pretending It’s Not Just About ‘Supporting Marco Rubio’

CREW filed a complaint last week with the IRS against a nonprofit that is a supposed "social welfare organization"—and therefore doesn't have to disclose its donors—but clearly exists almost entirely to support Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. Read More ›

NFL Owners Pass Nearly $3 Million to 2016 Presidential Candidates

So far in 2015, NFL team owners have donated $2,827,804 in support of presidential candidates. The vast majority of the money came from two GOP mega donors and went to a handful of Republican super PACs. In all, nine team owners have invested in the 2016 election. Read More ›

Company That Gave $550K to Bush Super PAC Wants to Influence How Employees Vote Too

Georgia-based Jackson Healthcare, part of the Job Creators Network (JCN), has not only given more than $500,000 to Jeb Bush's super PAC, they are using the E2E program to influence how their employees vote. Read More ›

Cruz Super PACs Raised the Most Koch Network Cash, but Bush and Walker Wooed More Koch Donors

If money were the only measure, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would be the clear winner of the Koch network primary so far. Read More ›

Mega Donors Using New Campaign Rules to Cut Six-Figure Checks to Lawmakers

Thanks to a rule change slipped into a spending bill last year, donors are now giving six-figure checks to lawmakers. Read More ›

Ted Cruz is Winning the Race for Koch Network Cash, but Marco Rubio May Have More Koch Support

Sen. Cruz’s presidential campaign received more money from known members of the Koch brothers’ political network than any other candidate. Read More ›

© 2015 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, all rights reserved.
• 455 Massachusetts Avenue NW • Sixth Floor • Washington, DC 20001 • 202-408-5565 •

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington®, and the
“CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” wordmark are registered trademarks.