“American people deserve better,” says League of Women Voters

Washington, DC -- The League of Women Voters today urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose the move expected this week to eliminate the public financing system for presidential elections.

Pointing to the lack of hearings or other committee action on the legislation to repeal the presidential system, Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the nonpartisan citizens’ organization said, “The rush to the floor, without following the normal procedures of the House, is deeply disturbing. The American people deserve better than this.”

The League also called attention to the relatively small cost of the public financing system for both the primary and general elections for president. “Certainly the elimination of the system cannot be seen as a meaningful reduction in federal spending or the debt,” according to MacNamara.

MacNamara went on to say that the, “presidential public financing for both primary and general election campaigns has served America well since 1976. It has not only allowed candidates to raise the funds needed to wage competitive campaigns, it has substantially reduced corruption and the appearance of corruption in the executive branch over that time period. It has given average citizens and small donors a critically important role to play in funding presidential campaigns and provided more meaningful choices to voters. And it has done all of this at remarkably small cost.”

“The presidential public financing system needs to be repaired, not repealed, in order to continue serving the interests of the American people and protecting against corruption. The system only began to decline when campaign costs outstripped the public financing provided to participating candidates and frontloading changes in the presidential nominating process occurred. A modernized system would provide presidential candidates with a viable alternative to finance their campaigns focused on average citizens and small donors, as opposed to being dependent on big donors, bundlers, lobbyists, and corporate and other outside spenders.”

“The issues surrounding the funding of presidential campaigns deserve careful consideration. They should be the subject of hearings and thoughtful deliberation.

“The health and integrity of our democracy demand more responsible action from the House of Representatives,” she concluded.

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.