In a letter sent today to the House Administration Committee, reform groups urged Committee members to oppose H.R. 412, legislation introduced by Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) to repeal the presidential public financing system. The groups also urged Committee members to oppose H.R. 195, legislation introduced by Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS) to terminate the Election Assistance Commission and transfer some of its functions to the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission.
The reform groups sending the letter include: the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Demos, Issue One, the League of Women Voters and Public Citizen.
According to the letter from reform groups:
The presidential public financing system worked well for most of its existence, providing presidential candidates with an alternative means to finance their campaigns without having to rely on influence-seeking campaign funds.
Almost every major party presidential candidate used the system for twenty-five years. Every president elected from 1976 to 2004 made use of the presidential public financing system. The system became outmoded, however, when Congress failed to take any action to update and modernize the system to respond to the increased costs of running a presidential campaign.
According to the letter:
Dangerous campaign finance developments in the 2012 presidential campaign have confirmed just how essential it is to repair, not repeal, the presidential public financing system.
In the aftermath of the destructive Citizens United decision, bundlers, big donors, super PACs, individual-candidate super PACs and secret contributions played a dominate role in the financing of the 2012 presidential election. Presidential candidates should have an alternative means to finance their campaigns without being dependent on these corrupting campaign funds.
According to the letter:
H.R. 424 introduced this year by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) would repair the presidential public financing system. The legislation provides presidential candidates with the option of running for President on a system based on small donations and public funds as an alternative to becoming obligated to influence-seeking funders.
The presidential public financing system should be repaired, not repealed.
The letter also stated:
We also strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 195. The Senate recently confirmed new Commissioners to serve on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and they should be given the opportunity to carry out their responsibilities.
Congress should be strengthening, not terminating, the EAC and should ensure that the agency can perform its critical functions in data collection, research, and information sharing among elected officials at every level of government, the public and concerned organizations. Congress should ensure that the EAC has sufficient authority to carry out these responsibilities.
It makes no sense, furthermore, to transfer EAC functions to the FEC, which is widely recognized as a dysfunctional and discredited agency. There is no basis for providing an agency that is paralyzed and incapable of carrying out its own responsibilities with a new area of additional responsibilities.
The letter concluded:
We strongly urge you to vote no on H.R. 412 and H.R. 195.
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