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By The People: Elections for the many, not the money
Sarbanes Announces Broad Coalition of Support for Government By the People Act
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- 2/5/2014
Sarbanes Announces Broad Coalition of Support for Government By the People Act

WASHINGTON – An unprecedented coalition of reformers rallied behind legislation to end big money politics and empower everyday Americans to take back their government. Introduced by U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the bipartisan Government By the People Act (H.R. 20) has been endorsed by over 35 national organizations advocating for the environment, education, labor, civil rights, clean government and more.

“Whether it’s jobs, education, health care or the environment, big money politics warps Congress’s priorities and erodes the public’s trust in government,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We need a government of, by and for the people – not bought and paid for by big money donors and special interests.”

The Government By the People Act would provide a My Voice Tax Credit to empower more Americans and democratize political campaigns. It would create a Freedom From Influence Matching Fund to amplify the voice of everyday Americans and make them just as powerful as big money donors. And it provides a Constitutionally sound policy response to the Citizens United decision, ensuring that Super PACs and dark money groups cannot drown out the voice of the people. The Government By the People Act would make it possible for Members of Congress to rely on small donor fundraising and still remain competitive in marquee races.

Nick Nyhart, President and CEO, Public Campaign: “Congressman John Sarbanes should be applauded for his bold plan to put our elections back in the hands of everyday Americans. Our democracy is under siege by big money campaign donors and the American people want action. By reducing the influence of wealthy donors and raising the voices of everyday Americans, the Government By the People Act would transform our campaign finance system.”

Larry Cohen, President, CWA: “We the people want to be heard. Corporations, Super PACs and Dark Money give a big voice to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. This uncontrolled spending threatens the democratic voice that is the foundation of our country. Increasingly, ordinary Americans are expressing a growing conviction that their votes don’t count, that our political process is controlled by the biggest bankroll, and that money, not the public interest, sets policies and priorities in government.”

Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior VP for Policy and Advocacy: “The crucial components of this bill directly addresses major concerns over the voices of everyday people, including those living in the African American community, being drowned out by the massive donations of a few individuals in the political process. This bill will help reestablish real democratic value into our local and national electoral process.”

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club: “Americans are sick of big polluters warping our government's priorities and we're tired of paying the costs of toxic fossil fuel policies with our air, our water, and our families' health. It's time Congress works for the people again, and Congressman Sarbanes' bill is a huge step in the right direction.”

Mary Kay Henry, President, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU): “Until we have a political system that works for everyone, we'll have an economy that boosts the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of hard working Americans. The Government By the People Act will raise the voices of everyday Americans in our democracy.”

Heather McGhee, Incoming President, Demos: “Demos strongly supports the Government By the People Act because it will raise up the voices of all Americans, encourage politicians to pay attention to ordinary constituents, not just wealthy donors, and move us closer to a true democracy in which the strength of a citizen’s voice no longer depends upon the size of her bank account.  And, the proposal will fight the increasing loss of faith in the legitimacy of our democracy, as more and more Americans accurately perceive that the game is rigged and their representatives are more accountable to their donors than to their voters. This bill couldn’t come at a more critical time when the prosperity gap is becoming a chasm and opportunity and mobility are stalled.  We must have a democracy that provides an equal say for all if we want an economy that provides an equal chance for all.”

Lawrence Lessig, Founder, Rootstrikers: “The Government By the People Act would break Congress’ dependence on Big Money campaign donors and give a voice to the people that elected them.”

David Donnelly, Executive Director, Public Campaign Action Fund: “Americans feel marginalized by a political system fueled by, and bent toward, a few wealthy interests. To rebuild public trust and to encourage all Americans of every background to participate, the Government By the People Act turns the financing of elections over to ordinary. Americans. When this passes, it will mean schoolteachers, secretaries, and small business owners can support the candidate of their choice without getting drowned out.”

Lawrence Norden, Democracy Program Deputy Director, Brennan Center for Justice: “Today, Rep. Sarbanes introduces the Government By the People Act. It seeks to make Congress more accountable to ordinary citizens, by creating a system of voluntary public financing for Congressional elections. If enacted, it would be a big stride for democracy. The Brennan Center is pleased to endorse this valuable step towards fair elections.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Programs, Common Cause: “The Government by the People Act is a shot of powerful medicine for the cancer of big money growing within our body politic. By allowing candidates to run winning campaigns with a base of small donor contributions, multiplied by grants from a federal fund, it would break the power of six- and seven-figure political investors like the Koch brothers, Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson.”

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “By approving the Government by the People Act, introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Congress would curb the warped priorities that hamper today’s political system and return it to one that is of, by and for the people. Giving regular Americans a vehicle to fight back against anonymous billionaires will ensure lawmakers are held accountable by their own constituents above outside interests.”

Andre Delattre, Executive Director, U.S. PIRG: “It’s time we return to government of, by, and for the people, not special interests. The Government By the People Act would reduce Congress’ dependence on big money campaign donors and help ordinary citizens get their voice heard.”

Jonathan Soros, Co-Founder, Friends of Democracy: “Our democracy works best when everyone has a seat at the table. The Government By the People Act will empower everyday Americans in our political process, ensuring our elections aren't simply a shouting match between wealthy Democrats and wealthy Republicans.”

Dan Cantor, National Director, Working Families: “Our democracy must be more than a disagreement among the wealthy. In jurisdictions like Connecticut and New York City that have adopted public financing systems, it has forced candidates to seek support among voters, not just millionaires and wealthy interests. It has turned elections into contests of ideas, not dollars. I can’t think of anything Congress needs more.”

Amanda Johnson, Campaign Director, Progressive Change Campaign Committee: “The PCCC is proud to endorse the Government By the People Act, which is all about incentivizing politicians to pay attention to everyday people instead of big-money interests. If this bold reform passes into law, and everyday Americans have more influence in our democracy, we will have a greater chance of success on issues like expanding Social Security benefits, reforming Wall Street, fighting corporate polluters, and making college more affordable.”

Barbara Lawton, President, Americans for Campaign Reform: “ACR applauds Congressman Sarbanes for advancing his vision of public service, unfettered by special interests, with his Government By the People Act. Public funding of campaigns is the vehicle to take us to a high functioning democracy. We ask his colleagues to put this on the agenda for serious debate in view of their voters.”

Joan Mandle, Executive Director, Democracy Matters: “Young people can't be heard in politics when millionaires and billionaires call the shots in Washington. We need a political system that lifts up the voices of everyday people in the political process, and makes sure a college student can have her voice heard as loudly as a corporate CEO. That's why Democracy Matters endorses the Government By the People Act.”

Neil Sroka, Communications Director, Democracy for America: “The battle against economic inequality starts by ending the death grip corporations and the wealthy have on the political process and taking on the current system of legalized bribery by passing bold, small-dollar, donor-focused campaign finance reform legislation like the Government By the People Act.”

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way: “Americans of all political stripes agree that our country has a money in politics problem. This legislation takes on this problem – empowering everyday Americans to give to candidates they believe in, amplifying the effects of those contributions, and weakening the grip wealthy interests have on politicians. Americans deserve a democratic system that is truly of, by, and for the people.”

Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen:  “At no time in history has a strong congressional public financing program been so sorely needed – and so warmly welcomed by the American public. Americans are demanding far more accountability from Congress. The only real means to achieve this accountability is to replace money from mega corporations and the wealthy with public funds and small donations from average Americans. This is precisely what the Government By the People Act offers.”

Cole Leystra, President, Progressives United: “The Government By the people Act fights corruption. When unlimited money reigns, both Republicans and Democrats rush to serve the interests of corporate America by supporting dangerous policies that only make the rich richer and our government less accountable to working people. But passing public financing of our elections is how all other progressive priorities are won.”

For more information about the proposal or for a full list of endorsements, please visit ofby.us.

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John Sarbanes
John Sarbanes
John Sarbanes
John Sarbanes
John Sarbanes