Statement of Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

In passing legislation today to repeal the presidential public financing system, House Republicans voted to turn the presidency over to influence-seeking big donors, bundlers and corporate and other outside spenders.

This battle now moves to the Senate where the legislation must be defeated.

Democracy 21 greatly appreciates President Obama’s strong opposition to the House legislation to repeal the presidential public financing system. President Obama’s support for repairing the presidential funding system and his opposition to the repeal effort is very important to winning the battle in the Senate against the House passed legislation.

As the Obama Administration said in a statement issued yesterday:


The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 359 because it is critical that the Nation’s Presidential election public financing system be fixed rather than dismantled. 


After a year in which the Citizens United decision rolled back a century of law to allow corporate interests to spend vast sums in the Nation’s elections and to do so without disclosing the true interests behind them, this is not the time to further empower the special interests or to obstruct the work of reform. 

We also very much appreciate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s leadership in opposing the House repeal legislation.

As spokesman Jon Summers said yesterday on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Reid:

The presidential public financing system served our country well for many years, helping to ensure presidential candidates were free to focus on communicating with the public, not wealthy donors. Congress should focus on improving the system so that it protects our democracy, instead of giving more and more power to special interests.

Killing the presidential public financing system in the wake of the disastrous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United would shut average citizens out of the political process, rather than engaging and encouraging their participation by matching their small contributions with public funds.

It would tell citizens that their small donations will not matter because big money will overwhelm the presidential campaigns.

It would represent the first step in an effort by Republican opponents of campaign finance laws to completely unravel our system of anti-corruption campaign finance laws, which, in turn, would return us to the influence-money corruption days that were the hallmark of the pre-Watergate period.

Any Member who cares about engaging and involving citizens in the political process should have voted against H.R. 359.

Any Member who opposes turning the presidency and our political process over to influence-seeking donors, bundlers and corporate and other outside spenders should have voted against H.R. 359.

Any Member who has co-sponsored legislation to create a congressional public financing system should have voted  against H.R. 359, which is an effort to kill not just presidential public financing, but the whole idea of public financing of elections.

Any Member who opposes the corruption of our democracy should have voted against H.R. 359.

Democracy 21 will join with other reform groups to vigorously oppose any efforts in the Senate to pass legislation to repeal the presidential public financing system.