Following the April 2nd anniversary of the McCutcheon v. FEC decision, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) today joined local elected officials, students and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) for a roundtable discussion about money in politics and possible solutions, including the H.R. 20, the Government by the People Act.
“I represent the needs of my constituents so it is imperative they are able to have their voices heard and their votes counted,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “The Government By the People Act is important because it enables elected representatives to spend more time crafting bipartisan solutions for the issues that are important to our constituents rather than spending time fundraising. We must take action to ensure we have more transparency and accountability in our elections.”
The Government by the People Act improves the opportunity for small donors to influence elections by providing a $25 My Voice Tax Credit for campaign contributions to Congressional candidates. It helps to amplify the voice of individual Americans and allows grassroots candidates relying on smaller donors to compete with big money candidates, Super PACs and outside special interest groups. Currently, 33 local elected officials in Colorado have joined more than 200 elected officials across the country to sign on in support of a policy to amplify the voices of small donors.
“Today’s meeting was with a large and diverse group, and was helpful for individuals and young people in Colorado understand the undue influence of mega-donors and special interests on our elections,” said Jessica Johnnes of CoPIRG. “They want to hear how they can be involved in passing reforms and it’s our job to start building support for reforms that curb the influence of big money by empowering average citizens, both here in Colorado and across the country.”
This type of program has already proven effective. For example, in New York City’s 2013 City Council races, once matching funds were factored in, candidates participating in the program raised more than 60 percent of their funds from small donors. By contrast, candidates who did not participate in the program raised just 19 percent of their funds from small donors.
Rep. Perlmutter and CoPIRG were joined by a coalition of organizations including Common Cause, NAACP, Jobs with Justice, Environment Colorado, Planned Parenthood Votes, Organizing for America, and the Colorado Progressive Coalition. The group discussed how to move forward on the Government by the People Act and other local small-donor empowerment programs.
“As a student who takes their studies as a full time job, I can’t give a $1,000 donation to a candidate or be a primary financial backer for some Super PAC,” said Alex Songer, a University of Denver student. “But that doesn’t mean my vote should count any less. Unfortunately, it feels like that. It feels like my voice is drowned out.”
During the 113th Congress, Rep. Perlmutter supported other campaign finance reform legislation including H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act, H.R. 648, the Campaign Sunlight Act, H.J.Res 22, the Democracy for All Amendment, and H.R. 430, the DISCLOSE Act.