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Sarbanes, Petri Lead Bipartisan, Interfaith Discussion on Big Money Politics
Congressmen host discussion on moral imperative of reforming the way we finance our elections
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.) today hosted leaders of the religious community for a discussion on big money politics, its influence on our democracy and the moral imperative of reforming the way we finance our elections.
“Americans are losing faith in a government they see as dominated by big money politics,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We need a Congress that makes decisions based on morals, not money, and I am pleased to join this diverse, bipartisan interfaith gathering in calling for reform.”
“Elections are becoming more and more expensive and this trend shows no sign of slowing down,” said Congressman Petri. “We should be encouraging broader participation in the electoral process so that campaigns can be funded through smaller donations, rather than relying on a few big donors or special interest groups. We all have a vested interest in who is elected to represent us and if there is a way to encourage more small donations, I think it’s worth exploring.”
Congressman Sarbanes and Congressman Petri are both leading efforts in Congress to empower the voices of everyday Americans in our political system. Earlier this year, Congressman Sarbanes authored and introduced the Government By the People Act, a bipartisan proposal with more than 150 House cosponsors that would amplify the voices of everyday Americans and fight back against big money special interests. In 2013, Congressman Petri introduced his Citizens Involvement in Campaigns (CIVIC) Act, legislation to encourage small donors to play a larger role in federal campaigns.
“The role of money in politics is not just a political issue, it is a moral and ethical issue. Buying influence is a very old game, which is why the Bible and many other sacred texts rail against it,” said Rabbi Justus Baird, Dean of Auburn Seminary. “As a rabbi, I can say that the Jewish tradition teaches that contributions generate influence. When the voice of the people is drowned out by the well-articulated pleas of a few, judgment is skewed.”
“No matter what issue we care about or where we find ourselves on the political spectrum, campaign financing has a fundamental influence on the public policy process,” said Sandy Sorensen of the United Church of Christ. “As people of faith, we recognize the responsibility of government to seek justice for all people to build the common good. It is a moral imperative that we reclaim the political process for all the people, not just those with the power of large sums of money on their side.”
“Big moneyed special interests dominate our politics and drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Common Cause. “Until we change how campaigns are financed, the moneychangers will continue to run loose in the temples of our government.”
“Just 100 people were responsible for more than half the money contributed to super PACs (more than $600 million) in the 2012 elections,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen President. “The American people know that the current system is failing them. They desperately want action. They believe passionately in ensuring that their speech – not that of any one select group, but the speech of We the People – matters. They are clamoring for the 28th Amendment.”
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