Today, a joint project of the Campaign Finance Institute, American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution unveils a new report, "Reform in an Age of Networked Campaigns: How to Foster Citizen Participation Through Small Donors and Volunteers."
The report, co-authored by Anthony J. Corrado, Michael J. Malbin, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, seeks to change the ongoing national dialogue about money in politics.
The political world has been arguing about campaign finance policy for decades. A once-rich conversation has become a stale, two-sided battleground. The time has come to leap over this gulf and, as much as possible, move the disputes from the courts.
The 2008 elections showcased the power of the Internet to generate enthusiasm, mobilize volunteers and increase small-donor contributions. The digital revolution has altered the calculus of participation. Instead of further restricting the wealthy few, therefore, this new report presents detailed recommendations to help activate the many.
In addition to extensive new information about the role of small and large doors in federal and state elections, the fifty-five page report contains this report offers a new vision of how campaign finance and communications policy can help further democracy through broader participation. Key recommendations, which are meant to apply to state as well as federal elections, include:
- Ensure open and accessible communications and information by (1) expanding affordable broadband access, (2) carriers providing full access for political speech and (3) creating a one-stop portal for all of a citizen’s election-related public information;
- Improve transparency by (1) making all disclosure reports be filed and available to the public electronically, (2) filing advertising logs electronically with the FCC and (3) developing a single disclosure Web site;
- Refining contribution limits on contributions to candidates and political parties;
- Redefining public funding by (1) providing multiple-dollar matching funds for small donors in general elections and primaries and , (2) doing away with spending limits as a requirement for public funding, (3) requiring candidates who accept public funds to abide by lower contribution limits instead of spending limits, (4) offering early money sooner, (5) using tax credits or rebates; and
- Enhancing party-candidate relations an electoral accountability by allowing unlimited coordinated expenditures for political parties from small-donor contributions.
About the Authors:
Anthony J. Corrado is Professor of Government at Colby College. He is also chair of the board of trustees of the Campaign Finance Institute and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution.
Michael J. Malbin is co-founder and executive director of The Campaign Finance Institute. He is also Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY.
Thomas E. Mann is the W. Averill Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution.
Norman J. Ornstein is a Resident Scholar at The American Enterprise Institute.
More detailed biographies are included in the attached Executive Summary.