Reforms groups sent a letter today enclosed below to President Barack Obama, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid urging them to block any last minute efforts to kill the presidential tax check off system in the Omnibus spending bill.

The reform groups include Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, CREW, Demand Progress, Democracy 21, Every Voice, League of Women Voters, Issue One, People For the American Way, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.

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Dear President Barack Obama, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi & Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid,

It is our understanding that last minute efforts may be pursued in the Omnibus bill to restore public financing for the presidential nominating conventions in return for taking away the funds currently in the presidential tax checkoff system.

House Republicans have tried to kill the presidential tax checkoff system in the past and take away its funds. These efforts have been opposed by President Obama and blocked by congressional Democrats.

We strongly urge you to block this last minute effort which would put the final nail in the coffin of the presidential public financing system rather than leave in place the opportunity to repair the system. This would also undermine the essential efforts being pursued to create a small donor, public matching funds system for congressional races.

The Super PAC financing of the 2016 presidential election clearly demonstrates the need to fix the presidential public financing the system, not destroy it. A repaired presidential funding system would engage millions of ordinary Americans in financing our presidential election rather than having presidential financing dominated by the Super Rich.

We strongly urge you to block any effort to kill the presidential tax checkoff system or to take away the money currently in the presidential tax checkoff fund.

Campaign Legal Center

Common Cause

CREW

Demand Progress

Democracy 21

Every Voice

League of Women Voters

Issue One

People For the American Way

Public Citizen

U.S. PIRG

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According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:

On January 25, 2011, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy enclosed below that strongly opposed legislation introduced by Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) to repeal the presidential public financing system “because it is critical that the Nation’s Presidential election public financing system be fixed rather than dismantled.”

The administration stated that the Cole legislation “would kill the system, not strengthen it. Its effect would be to expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation’s elections; to force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues; and to place a premium on access to large donor or special interest support, narrowing the field of otherwise worthy candidates.”

Since the White House issued this statement opposing the killing of the presidential public financing system, the financing of presidential elections has become dominated by billionaires and multimillionaires and the need to repair the presidential public financing system is even far greater than it was in 2011.

President Obama must not abandon his past opposition to killing the presidential public financing system.

It is incumbent upon President Obama to block any efforts to use the Omnibus spending bill to kill the presidential tax checkoff system.

President Obama must refuse to be a participant in putting the final nail in the coffin of a system that served the country well for more than two decades and in the words of his own administration needs to be fixed, not destroyed.

 

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 359 – Termination of Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns and Party Conventions 
(Rep. Cole, R-Oklahoma, and 18 cosponsors)

January 25, 2011

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.

The Presidential election public financing system was enacted in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal to free the Nation’s elections from the influence of corporations and other wealthy special interests.  Rather than candidates having to rely on raising large sums of private money in order to run, the system provides qualifying presidential candidates with the option of accepting matching funds in the primary and a public grant in the general election.  It has done so at minimal cost to taxpayers, who fund it by voluntarily choosing to direct $3 of their Federal taxes to this beneficial system.  For many years, the system worked well and attracted wide participation.  In time, however, it became clear that a system introduced in the 1970s was in need of modernization and repair.  Beginning in the 2000 Presidential campaign, candidates began to opt out.  Since that time, promising proposals for the strengthening of the system have been made.

H.R. 359 would kill the system, not strengthen it.  Its effect would be to expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation’s elections; to force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues; and to place a premium on access to large donor or special interest support, narrowing the field of otherwise worthy candidates.  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.