Larson Leads Push for National Public Financing

CTNJ has the story: John Larson is spearheading efforts to institute a national public campaign financing law similar to Connecticut’s landmark 2005 reform.

Under Larson’s proposed legislation, candidates for the US House of Representatives would be required to raise 1,500 contributions of no more than $100 from constituents in their district. The qualifying limit to receive a public grant would be $50,000. Once a candidate raised the money they would receive a matching grant from a federal fund.

The bill is also finding support from Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. Chris Murphy, who both won close races against well-funded incumbents in 2006.

Larson also suggested four year terms for members of Congress, with elections being staggered (i.e., half the Congress would be up for election every two years).

You can read more about this event at MLN and Orient Lodge.

Interestingly, Rep. Murphy’s opponent, Justin Bernier, has asked the incumbent congressman to start practicing what he’s preaching right away:

Murphy’s opponent Republican Justin Bernier sent Murphy a letter Monday asking him to participate in the principles of the Fair Elections Now Act. Bernier asked Murphy to self-impose a fundraising cap of $1 million and proposed a limited of $2,400 from individual donors. Bernier also asked Murphy to forego special interest and Political Action Committee contributions (Stuart)

Murphy responded that he hadn’t read the letter, but did say that it would be difficult for any one candidate to do this unilaterally, which is why legislation is needed.

A bill may get a hearing in Washington later this summer.

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13 responses to “Larson Leads Push for National Public Financing

  1. Bruce Rubenstein

    As a former state party finance chair…i hope this passes….

  2. If Bernier was pledged to do it, then all Murphy would have to do is agree in order for it to work, right?

  3. The bill is also finding support from Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. Chris Murphy, who both won close races against well-funded incumbents in 2006.

    Funny how Dodd is silent.

    With four in state donors, I’m sure he is concerned about his ability to qualify.

    Larson also suggested four year terms for members of Congress, with elections being staggered (i.e., half the Congress would be up for election every two years).

    As if Larson has had any serious threats. Why not make it elected for life?

    Funny, he didn’t propose this until the Dems controlled Washington. The Dems have demonstrated an easy attempt at power-grabbing, whether it be in Hartford or DC.

  4. If Bernier was pledged to do it, then all Murphy would have to do is agree in order for it to work, right?

    Taking Murphy at his word would be foolish.

  5. famillionaire

    It’s a nice political jab by Bernier, but he has to realize that virtually no Congressional incumbent (especially a persistently on-the-ground, focused-on-constituent-services Congressman like Murphy) can be unseated for $1 million.

    On the idea itself – sounds great, but completely useless and counter-productive to democracy unless PACs, 527’s, 501(c)(4)’s and the like are done away with or the rules are changed – never gonna happen.

  6. Ken,

    Larson doesn’t win in his district because he outspends his challenger; he wins because the district is now and forever shall be owned by Democrats. It was so in the era of Barbara Kennelly, daughter of the last real Democrat Party boss in Connecticut. Kennelly would still be there if she had not decided to run for governor against John Rowland. I remember writing a piece for the Journal Inquirer during one of her memorable races against a Republican sacrificial lamb whose name I cannot now remember. He worked at the time for Combustion Engineering and was astonished – shocked! shocked I tell you! – when he discovered that his company had given more money in the campaign to Kennelly. Larson has nothing to fear from reform. And neither do other safe-seat incumbents. What they fear is redistricting – the un-gerrymandering of the state’s districts. Districts are sometime re-drawn when the state loses population, the bright side of the energetic pursuit by Democrats to drive businesses from the state through over-regulation and high business taxes. People, it seems, have the nasty habit of drifting off into other states more business friendly than Connecticut. As the state loses population, it loses congressional seats and districts are folded into each other. Your only hope, Ken: Keep your fingers crossed and pray for more regulation and higher business taxes.

  7. Larson also suggested four year terms for members of Congress, with elections being staggered (i.e., half the Congress would be up for election every two years).

    That seems like a ridiculous idea. First, half of the representatives would be up for reëlection whenever there was a Presidential election, and half would always be up for reëlection during an off year. With the Senate’s six year terms now, this at least alternates. But since turnout is much greater for Presidential elections, you need to have the reps up for election in both types of elections.

    Under this campaign finance reform, would the congressmen only be able to raise $100 or less from people in their district? What about self financing candidates? Would they be able to spend whatever they wanted?

  8. Wow! John Larson wants to use our money for his campaigns AND get a longer term every time he runs?

    I have a great idea… this will save us LOTS of money and take special interest money out of politics FOR GOOD!

    Let’s have a president that serves for life and passes the presidency to his oldest male heir upon his death.

    We can change the US Senate to be appointed by the president for life as well. They won’t actually have to represent states… the president just has to declare the individual a Senator, and there will be as many Senators as the president wants.

    Then the House can still be elected at large.

    It’s a great system… to bad we spent all that energy and blood in the 1770’s getting rid of it. If only we had known that staying in the British Empire would have been such good policy…

  9. Bruce Rubenstein

    Don…re-districting and gerrymandering also occurs when states increase their populations as well. Every 10 years is the usuall occurance and its coming soon…the census is first and is happening right now with an offices all throughout the state..to be followed in the future by a legislative committee, usually picked by the Governor in consert with the legislative leadership. As far as populations….ours has been stagnant, for many reasons, not just for an unfriendly business atmosphere.

  10. When Larson mentioned the four year, staggered terms, my jaw dropped. He wants to change the value of a midterm election wholly. He lost me long before this idea, but it shows how out of step his concept of reform is with what many think needs to happen – i.e. – redistricting into competitive districts.

    I agree with Don that the gerrymandering – which makes districts look like molecular models like enzymes or something – is key. I didn’t get a chance to ask that question, but didn’t bother, because I prioritize ballot access. Although a dollar to a doughnut says that the answer would have been the same either way – we didn’t consider that in this legislation.

    It is not just bad business taxes that keep people fleeing Connecticut. It is unimaginative leadership and a risk-averse society engineered by insurance adjusters, among many many many other things. It is a combination of poor transit, corruption, unaffordable housing prices, an inability to deal with de facto segregation (or de jure integration) and better opportunities elsewhere.

  11. Bruce Rubenstein

    It is not just bad business taxes that keep people fleeing Connecticut. It is unimaginative leadership and a risk-averse society engineered by insurance adjusters, among many many many other things. It is a combination of poor transit, corruption, unaffordable housing prices, an inability to deal with de facto segregation (or de jure integration) and better opportunities elsewhere.

    Kenis quite correct here….along with other reasons, some as benign as simply moving away from the cold weather to the warmer climates.

  12. Bruce,

    The British actor Rex Harrison moved out of high tax Britain to a tax haven in, I think, Belgium, though I may be wrong about the country.

    There he was approached by a newsman who knew he was escaping the high taxes and asked, “Why Belgium?”

    “Chocolates,” he said.

    People do have different reasons for moving other than taxes, you’re right. But high taxes don’t help.

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