Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rep. John Sarbanes Announces Self-Imposed Campaign Finance Restrictions // New Project Highlights Public Financing Effort

UPDATE: I just finished participating in Rep. Sarbanes Facebook Town Hall meeting. Very interesting. It was sort of a telethon-style format where he explained his new fundraising concept, along with the policy reasons driving the experiment. But, he also started answering live questions from people online. Once I saw that, I couldn't resist tossing some legislative advocacy into the mix (see screencap of my question below). But kudos to Mr. Sarbanes for trying something different!

The HoCo Rising blog recently wrote about a interesting new effort from Rep. John Sarbanes to highlight legislation calling for publicly financed, clean elections:
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman John Sarbanes.  After explaining how the constant treadmill of fund-raising is ruining politics and preventing legislators from doing much more than vote and chase additional funds, he presented the Grassroots Donor project.  In essence, Con. Sarbanes is imposing the public financing model on himself to show it works and focus more on grassroots campaigning....  Essentially, John is cutting himself off from his own funds, raised in the normal course of fund-raising, which will only be available once he has over 1,000 donors of $100 or less.
Rep. Sarbanes new fundraising website, www.GrassrootsDonor.com, explains his new project and asks the following question:
What if we could find a better way to fund Congressional campaigns that puts the grassroots donor ahead of the special interests?

Here is an explanation of the project from its website:
We are excited to announce the launch of the Friends of John Sarbanes Grassroots Donors Project, which mimics the public financing model set forth in the Fair Elections Now Act. Under this legislation, which would provide public financing at the federal level, a candidate who assembles a high volume of grassroots donors ($100 or less) is rewarded with access to a public matching fund.

Recognizing that the Fair Elections Now Act is unlikely to become law any time soon, we decided to use our own campaign to model such an approach. With the support of traditional donors who support public financing, we've established a $500,000 Challenge Fund inside my campaign that can only be unlocked when I have recruited 1,000 grassroots donors. 
Your contribution of $100 or less will help us power a network of grassroots donors and unlock the special Challenge Fund!
Recruiting 1,000 new grassroots donors is probably not too difficult for Mr. Sarbanes. We previously noted that he is the top Democrat nationally in terms of dollars raised from individuals (as opposed to PAC's). Nevertheless, he's promoting the effort through a Grassroots Donor Facebook Town Hall tonight at 7:30 pm.

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