Comprehensive reform bill would end individual candidate Super PACs, repair presidential public financing system, create similar financing system for Congressional races and strengthen rules prohibiting coordinated spending by outside groups

In a letter sent today, reform groups urged Representatives to support and co-sponsor H.R. 270, which is the most comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation pending in Congress.

H.R. 270 would end individual candidate Super PACs, repair the presidential public financing system, create a similar financing system for congressional races and strengthen the rules prohibiting coordination between outside spending groups and candidates.

The reform groups included: Americans for Campaign Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters and People For the American Way

According to the letter:

The public financing provisions for federal candidates in H.R. 270 are closely modeled on the successful small donor, multiple matching funds system long used to finance New York City elections. The legislation would magnify the role and importance of ordinary Americans in financing elections and provides federal candidates with an alternative way to run for office without becoming indebted to their funders.

Editorials in The New York Times and Washington Post have endorsed H.R. 270 as “vital” reform legislation.

H.R. 270 is the only legislation currently pending in Congress that would shut down individual candidate Super PACs and repair the presidential funding system, according to the letter from reform groups.

The letter states:

Individual candidate Super PACs are a dangerous new entity used by federal candidates and their big donors to ignore the limits on contributions to candidates enacted to prevent corruption.

The most recent New York Times editorial endorsing Price-Van Hollen (February 16, 2014) focused on its provisions to end individual candidate Super PACs. The Times editorial stated:

This election year will be the moment when individual candidate super PACs – a form of legalized bribery – become a truly toxic force in American politics.

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Once again, Congress will have to step in to stop the corruption, and fortunately a good reform vehicle exists: the Empowering Citizens Act, a bill introduced by two House Democrats, David Price and Chris Van Hollen, which would limit the spending of super PACs closely aligned to a campaign.

According to the letter:

The presidential public financing system served the nation well for nearly three decades. During this period, almost every Democratic and Republican presidential candidate participated in the public financing system. Every president elected from 1976 through 2004 used public financing to pay for their general election campaign.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote in 2006 about the presidential system:

[T]he public financing of presidential campaigns, instituted in response to the Watergate scandals of the early 1970s, was that rare reform that accomplished exactly what it was supposed to achieve.

The letter from reform groups concluded:

The presidential public finance system is broken today because Congress failed to take any steps to update and modernize the system. H.R.270 would repair the presidential system.

Our organizations urge you to support and co-sponsor the comprehensive reform bill, H.R. 270, in addition to any other campaign finance reform bills you may be supporting and co-sponsoring in this Congress.

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