Del. Jon S. Cardin Reintroduces Public Funding of Elections Bill

Del. Jon S. Cardin Reintroduces Public Funding of Elections Bill
2014 Session will mark the 10th anniversary of Delegate Cardin introducing public funding legislation for campaigns

Annapolis, MD – Delegate Jon S. Cardin, chairman of the House Ways and Means Election Law Subcommittee, has pre-filed a bill to rid corporate and large donor money from politics while increasing overall transparency. Cardin’s bill would expand the existing Public Financing Act (PFA) to create a public funding option for Maryland General Assembly candidates. This is the tenth time Cardin has introduced a public funding initiative for Maryland General Assembly campaigns. The bill has been approved by the House of Delegates in the past but has never passed the Senate.

Delegate Cardin said, “I applaud Delegate Mizeur’s decision to use public financing in her gubernatorial campaign, and her support of expanded public funding to other campaigns. This is an important step towards keeping special interest money out of politics, increasing overall transparency, and keeping politicians accountable to the citizens.”

Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG Director, stated, “Maryland PIRG applauds the proposed expansion of citizen funded elections in Maryland. Now more than ever in a post-Citizens United world where big money has come to dominate our elections, we need candidate funding systems that allow those running for office to be dependent on and responsive to the needs of their constituents rather than the will of mega-donors and special interests.”

Charlie Cooper, President of Get Money Out of Maryland, an organization dedicated to fighting corruption in politics, added, “The nation is undergoing a crisis in which the power of individual citizens wanes while the power of big money to influence elections and the legislative process waxes. We believe that public financing can be a critical mechanism in reversing this unwelcome trend.”

Delegate Cardin continued, “After the disastrous Citizen’s United decision opened the door to unlimited and undisclosed money in politics, public funding is the most effective way to keep this dark money out of politics. It makes politicians accountable to the real stakeholders – their constituents – and levels the playing field to allow new candidates with fresh ideas to enter the political arena.

“For the last decade I have been fighting for public funding and free and fair elections. Unfortunately, entrenched politicians and well-financed special interests continue to block these common-sense reforms. Providing a voluntary fair public funding choice is the best way to limit the corrupting influence of money in politics.”
Common Cause Maryland Executive Director, Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, concluded, “Common Cause Maryland has proudly supported the legislation introduced by Delegate Cardin and Senator Pinsky that would establish public funding for legislative races in Maryland. This proposal is a common sense way to bring balance to the system and make citizens the focus of campaigns, not special interest donors. Public funding is the most effective tool that Maryland has to turn the tide against special interest money in our elections. Public funding magnifies low-dollar donations from citizens, allowing voters to play a meaningful role in determining which candidates can run for office, and provides minority candidates – including women – a more competitive and even playing field in elections.”

Last week Delegate Heather Mizeur announced she will publicly fund her gubernatorial campaign in order to limit the influence large donors and business interests have on her policy decisions as a candidate or as Governor, if elected. The existing Public Financing Act (PFA) was protected by Cardin when the legislature and the governor tried to raid it to balance budgets. But, it does not provide for public funding for Maryland General Assembly elections (State Senators and Delegates). Delegate Cardin’s bill, which he has been championing for the last decade, provides up to $100,000 for State Senate or Delegate elections while vastly limiting the amount of private money donors can contribute and requiring full transparency for campaign expenditures.