According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:
There are small donor, public matching funds bills pending in Congress.
Democracy 21 supports H.R.270, The Empowering Citizens Act introduced by Representatives David Price and Chris Van Hollen, which is closely modeled after the New York City system described in the article below and in the New York City Campaign Finance Board report.
The Price/Van Hollen bill provides multiple public funds to match small contributions for presidential and congressional candidates. The bill also contains provisions to shut down single candidate super PACs and to strengthen the rules prohibiting coordination between candidates and outside spending groups.
The New York Times
By Matt Flegeenheimer
SEPT. 1, 2014
At nearly every turn, the New York City mayoral election of 2013 was colored by the man who wasn’t running: City Hall’s departing tenant, Michael R. Bloomberg.
So perhaps it is appropriate that, according to the most detailed analysis to date of election spending last year, history was made, in part, simply by removing the self-financed billionaire from the top of the ballot.
With most major candidates participating in a matching funds program overseen by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, mayoral candidates received $14 million — the most in the program’s 25-year history — according to the board’s examination, to be released on Tuesday.
For the first time since 1997, the last mayoral election without Mr. Bloomberg running, the top two candidates in the general election received matching funds.
And in the continuation of a program trend that dates from 2001, when candidates were given $4 in matching funds for every $1 they received in small donations, modest donors played a significant role.
More than two-thirds of contributors living in New York City gave $175 or less, and more than 90 percent of the total money raised in campaigns came from individual donors, not political action committees or unions. (Last year, for donations up to $175, candidates received $6 in matching funds for every $1 they took in.)
Taken together, the 2013 elections, the board said, were “by some measures, the most wide-open” since the program began.
Two candidates defeated wealthy men who paid for their own campaigns in primary elections, the report noted. Joseph J. Lhota won the Republican nomination for mayor despite being outspent three-to-one by John A. Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the Gristedes grocery store chain.
In the Democratic primary for comptroller, Scott M. Stringer defeated Eliot Spitzer, the former governor, who spent $10 million in the three months before the election.
The city’s campaign finance system, often viewed as a national model, has helped generate more competition for seats on the City Council. In Democratic primaries, 75 percent of districts had contested or competitive races, the report said.
At the state level, where lawmakers have long resisted the prospect of publicly financed campaigns, 30 percent of Assembly and State Senate districts in New York City are expected to have contested Democratic primaries on Sept. 9, according to the board.
The analysis also found that independent spending played a role at times in the 2013 elections. Outside groups spent $15.9 million, including $6.2 million on City Council primary races alone. But the city’s disclosure rules required groups to make public the source of their money and the ways in which it was spent.
“The ‘dark money’ spending often seen in federal and state elections did not happen under the city’s rules,” the board said.
Among the biggest beneficiaries of independent spending, both directly and indirectly, was Mayor Bill de Blasio. In the Democratic primary, the early front-runner, Christine C. Quinn, faced a deluge of negative ads from groups that included New York City Is Not For Sale, which spent $856,762 opposing her.
One of the group’s main supporters was an animal rights group that called for the removal of horse-drawn carriages from Central Park — and loudly criticized Ms. Quinn for refusing to support a ban, as others, including Mr. de Blasio, did.
In the general election, Mr. de Blasio’s campaign lamented a court decision that lifted the limit on contributions to a group supporting Mr. Lhota. The ruling, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said then, would “empower the right-wing billionaires” supporting the Republican and “drown out the voices of New Yorkers.”
But according to the report, “most independent expenditures in the general election helped de Blasio.” Groups sympathetic to Mr. de Blasio outspent those supporting Mr. Lhota by more than three-to-one.
Still, small contributions were central to Mr. de Blasio’s election, the report suggests. The average individual contribution to Mr. de Blasio was $808, less than the average contribution to top rivals like Ms. Quinn and William C. Thompson Jr.
Mr. de Blasio attracted by far the largest number of small contributors (6,243), outpacing Mr. Lhota (3,709) and Ms. Quinn (3,552). Mr. Catsimatidis had 27 small contributors, according to the board’s review.
Though residents in nearly every city neighborhood gave to candidates, ZIP codes on the Upper East and Upper West Sides accounted for the five largest pools of individual contributions. Only one neighborhood outside of Manhattan (Brooklyn Heights) can be found in the top 10.