With the battle over earmarks, transparency, and ethics and lobbying reform still brewing in the halls of Congress, the Senate Rules Committee today held a hearing on a system of campaign reform that would truly change the political process in this country.
Today, I testified to the Rules Committee that the real answer to corruption in Washington is the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), legislation that would bring full public financing to Congressional elections. Sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), FENA was introduced in March as the first Congressional public financing of elections bill with bipartisan support.
Here's excerpt of my testimony before the Committee today:
It is possible to change politics for the better. And we must do to it together. Working alongside each other we can leave behind the unsustainable money chase and its negative side effects. Together, we can create a new system based on the widely shared American values of fair competition, equal opportunity and inclusive participation. It is an idea whose time has come (to read the full testimony go to click here).
The states that have had the campaign finance systems that FENA is modeled on have been tremendously successful. Just this past January, more than 200 elected officials were sworn into office without relying on special interest contributions. We've seen more and more candidates from diverse backgrounds run for office in these Fair Elections states than ever before -- because all candidates are now on an equal playing field.
Walking into the Rules Committee hearing room this morning was a proud moment for me. This was the first time in more than a decade that there has been a hearing on public financing of Congressional races. In addition to my testimony, the Committee heard from Sens. Durbin and Specter, former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-NH), and businessman and major political contributor Arnold Hiatt, a Fair Elections advocate, that we need to pass the Fair Elections Now Act.
At the hearing today, the Senate's chief opponent to any sort of campaign reform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took the witness chair himself to argue vociferously in favor of the current system of out of control private financing.
Ranking Member Bob Bennett (R-UT) also spoke out against the system, while other committee members expressed an interest in exploring the topic further.
I'll keep you posted on progress as we begin this lengthy battle to bring Fair Elections to Congress. Help us grow support for FENA by signing on as a Citizen Co-Sponsor. With the 2008 elections set to shatter all fundraising records and the indictment of yet another member of Congress, it's time we implement this common sense solution.