Congressman Sarbanes has introduced the Grassroots Democracy Act, a comprehensive campaign finance reform proposal that would build a new system where the strongest voice in American politics is the everyday voter.
The bill paves a new way forward that helps more Americans participate in Congressional elections, amplifies the effect of grassroots campaign contributions, and gives the people a voice to fight back against Super PACs and special interests.
Overview of the Bill
Grassroots Democracy Dollars
Establish a refundable tax credit to encourage grassroots campaign giving, stimulate outreach by campaigns to new voter populations, and foster civic engagement from a broader group of Americans. Also, launch a pilot Democracy Dollar voucher program to develop the necessary infrastructure for a successful voucher program.
Grassroots Campaign Financing System
Implement a multiple match system for grassroots campaign contributions ($100 or less) to amplify the impact of grassroots donors. Preserve key aspects of the current fundraising system to provide a “bridge” to adoption for candidates of the prevailing campaign financing system.
Grassroots Democracy People’s Fund
Establish a “citizen-owned” People’s Fund to provide immediate support to grassroots-supported candidates in elections where outside spending (i.e. non-candidate, non-party spending such as that of a super PAC and 501(c)4 organizations) significantly outpaces national norms.
Grassroots Democracy Commission
Create a Grassroots Democracy Commission charged with providing oversight of the various Grassroots Democracy provisions, regularly reviewing the efficacy of the various programs and making recommendations for reform to Congress.
Expanding Candidate and Party Access to Affordable Advertisements
Increase Congressional candidates and national political party access to affordable advertisements by instituting reforms to current Lowest Unit Charge (LUC) provisions.
Grassroots Democracy Offsets
Provide funding for the Grassroots Democracy Act by setting a new statutory tax rate for the investment income of political organizations, tightening loopholes that allow political organizations to avoid paying taxes, taxing social welfare organizations engaged in significant levels of political activity, as well as PAC registration and bundler registration fees. The plan would also institute an online voluntary donation platform and taxpayer contribution check-boxes so that people may voluntarily contribute funding for the system.