Campaign Finance Reform
Democracy works best when everyone's voice is heard and represented. Unfortunately big money in politics has an undue, disproportionate and corrupting influence, and undermines our democracy. The reasons for this are many:
- Though a series of decisions including Citizens United v. FEC (2010), McCutcheon v. FEC (2014) and Buckley v. Vallejo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court has dramatically expanded the ability of wealthy individuals, corporations and groups to spend as much as they like to influence elections,
Greens reject these rulings and seek to overturn them. Greens support amending the U.S. Constitution to un-equivocably define that (a) money is not speech, (b) human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights, and (c) to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending.
- By their nature, elections and campaigns expensive in order to reach large numbers of voters. In the absence of public-financing of elections, candidates must seek funding somewhere.
It is also in the public interest for voters to be well-informed. The question is how do we fund our campaigns and elections, and how do we ensure all voters have the information they need to make informed decisions.
Greens support public financing via equal free time for candidates on the public broadcast spectrum, via governmental voter guides and other media. This would provide all voters with a baseline of information about all candidates running.
Combined with this, Greens support public financing of campaigns and elections via a system where small donations are matched with public funds at a multiple ratio. This would increase the importance of small donations and increase the incentive for a broader base of voters to participate in funding elections. It would also enable grassroots candidates with strong community ties to run competitive campaigns, even if they do not have personal wealth or access to major donors.
- Large, single-seat legislative districts require large expenditures to be competitive. Top Two elections make this even worse, by making the primary election as expensive as the general.
Greens support legislative elections by multi-seat districts with proportional representation, which lowers the cost of campaigns, by lowering the threshold to receive representation and enabling candidates to be elected by their natural constituencies in proportion to their numbers.
Proposals: The Green Party supports
Contribution and Spending Limits
- Amend the U.S. Constitution to un-equivocably define that money is not speech; that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights; and to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending. Such an amendment would overturn Citizens United v. FEC (2010), McCutcheon v. FEC (2014) and Buckley v. Vallejo (1976).
- Enact campaign contribution and spending limits where constitutionally possible. Where not, combine voluntary contribution and spending limits with public financing.
- Establish various forms of public financing, including matching funds programs where small donations are matched with public funds at greater than one-to-one multiple ratio.
- Allow candidates to earn additional matching funds to respond to late-campaign political action committees and independent expenditures.
- Provide a $25 refundable tax credit for small contributions to candidates.
- Create small donor committees that aggregate the voices of small donors.
- Require that free television and radio time be dedicated to candidates, elections debates and forums ,and political parties as part of all commercial public broadcast licenses.
- Require that time on Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Access Channels be dedicated to candidates, debates and forums for elections within the PEG area
- Provide free media vouchers and a discount below the lowest unit-cost on broadcast advertising for candidates that accept voluntary spending limits.
- Overturn the ban in California that prevents counties, districts, general law cities, or the state from offering public campaign funds (from Proposition 73 in 1988)
- Provide a check-off option on state income tax forms to donate funds to support ballot qualified political party of their choice (donation does not come out of their taxes, but is separate and additional)
- Require prompt and full disclosure of all permissible contributions on Federal, State, and local government levels
- Eliminate all 'dark money' in elections - i.e. legal donations that are not publicly disclosed, including by amending Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code which defines social welfare organizations for tax-exempt purposes, to un-equivocably define that such organization must operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare and that no Federal agency, including the IRS, may interpret this to mean otherwise, including by redefining 'exclusively' as 'primarily', and that any such past interpretations be rendered invalid and void" going forward.