Political donation strike hits $1 million mark

The campaign-finance reform group Change Congress announced today that members of Congress may be a cool million bucks lighter in their war chests next election cycle.

The group’s aim is a donor strike — getting 2008-election-cycle donors to pledge that they will withhold any further contributions to members of Congress who don’t support a campaign-reform bill that rejects money from lobbyists, special interest and big donors. Those who have signed on reportedly contributed $1 million to federal candidates in the last go-around.

The proposed Fair Elections Now Act that promotes “citizen-funded” campaigns has been making its way through Congress since 2007.

Strikers agree to hold back the same amount of money they contributed to political candidates in the last election cycle. While some politicians are getting hit pretty hard, Colorado’s delegation purse strings aren’t straining quite yet:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) lost $14,195
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) lost $14,415
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-01) lost $4,026
Rep. Jared Polis (D-02) lost $7,580
Rep. John Salazar (D-03) lost $727
Rep. Betsy Markey (D-04) lost $934
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-05) lost $750
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-06) lost $2,100
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-07) lost $25

According to Change Congress co-founders Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi and Lawrence Lessig, founder of Stanford Law’s Center for Internet and Society:

Specifically, congressional candidates who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for a chunk of funding — likely several hundred thousand dollars. If they accept this funding, they can’t raise big-dollar donations or accept lobbyist money. But they can raise small-dollar donations, which would be matched by a central fund — so the power of these donations is increased. There will also be provisions to reduce the cost of television air time.

This model has already worked on the state level. Candidates not only jump at the opportunity to partake in this system, but “citizen-funded” candidates consistently win.

It’s also popular. A recent bipartisan Tarrance-Lake poll showed more than two-thirds of voters (67 percent) support this proposal, and a broad coalition of organizations representing millions of Americans has been working hard for such reform.

S. 1285 and its companion HB 7022 are expected to be reintroduced later this month.

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Wendy Norris

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