Americans for Campaign Reform (ACR) is bipartisan community of citizens who believe passionately that public funding of federal elections is the single most critical long-term public policy issue our nation faces. What’s at stake are nothing less than the health of our democracy, the quality of our leadership, and our government’s ability to tackle the serious problems that affect us all: health care, energy policy, education, the environment and the economy.
ACR supports voluntary public funding of federal elections through a system which encourages candidates to rely on small donations from a large number of supporters, provides matching funds to maximize the impact of small donations, requires full disclosure of money spent to influence elections, has reasonable contribution limits and provides each eligible candidate with the resources necessary to run an effective, competitive and winning campaign. Such a public funding system should be based on the following principles:
- Our leaders should be elected by, and accountable to, the voters based on their ideas, ability, experience, and character, not their access to individuals, entities or special intereststhat can give and raise large campaign contributions. A public funding system should supportcandidates who can show widespread support by building a base of small donor contributions.
- No individual, organization or entity should be allowed to contribute to a candidate, political party or political committeeat a level that gives rise to the appearance or reality that such contributions will provide the contributors with undue access or influence and increase the potential for real and apparent corruption.
- Our campaign finance system must allow every eligible individual to have a meaningful opportunity for his/her voice to be heard and to participate in voluntarily supporting the candidates of their choice. Matching small contributions with public funds in an amount that empowers each small donor should be the foundation of any public funding system.
- Candidates who qualify for public funds must have access to sufficient funds to communicate their ideas, values and perspectives, and to engage their opponents, so that they can fully make their case as to why they should be elected and, so that the voters can then make an informed choice. After each election, there should be an independent review to identify any adjustments needed to qualifying requirements and funding levels consistent with the goals and principles of the public funding system.
- The rights of independent and third party candidates must be respected.
- Changes in society and technology often require elections and campaigns to evolve and adapt to most effectively reach voters. Our campaign finance system should encourage and support such changes to the extent they support the goals and principles of the system.
- Efficient, effective and independent administration and enforcement of the campaign finance system is necessary to allow citizens and candidates to have confidence in the system and our democracy. Recognizing the problems inherent in Members of Congress administering and enforcing the system that governs their own reelection, there must be an independent, non-partisan commission to administer and enforce the law and make appropriate adjustments to the rules, including qualifying and funding levels.