"The arms race for money that drives our campaigns threatens the concept of one person, one vote."
Public Financing Pilot Heads to Governor's Deak
PRESS RELEASE August 2, 2007
CAMPAIGN PUBLIC FINANCING OPTION TO EXPAND TO SOME TOP REGULATORY OFFICES
On a final vote today, the NC Senate approved a pilot to provide a public financing option for a limited number of Council of State seats in 2008. The bill will now head to the governor's office to be signed.
Under the legislation, candidates running for Commissioner of Insurance, State Auditor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction could receive a public grant to run their campaigns if they collected $29,000 in small donations from at least 750 registered voters in North Carolina and agreed to strict spending and fundraising limits. Candidates who chose to participate in the voluntary program would not be allowed to accept contributions over $200 and would be barred from accepting money from PACs or from fundraising after they receive the public grant.
Commissioner of Insurance Jim Long and Superintendent of Public Instruction have both endorsed the bill along with hundreds of large campaign donors, civic leaders, and former elected officials across the state.
Chase Foster, lobbyist for NC Voters for Clean Elections (NCVCE)---a broad coalition which supports campaign public financing alternatives---said that the bill's passage in the House was an important victory for improving confidence in government.
'This is a victory for people-empowered democracy and a win for the people of North Carolina,” said Foster. “This bill improves public education about our system of government, gives hard working community-focused candidates a competitive chance to run for office, and increases public confidence in government by making it possible to run for our state's top regulatory offices without taking money from the groups these offices regulate.'
Foster also said the victory expands North Carolina’s leadership role in the area of campaign finance reform. 'This victory demonstrates once again that North Carolina is a national leader in campaign finance reform,” he said. “And it will certainly bolster our efforts to continue to build more accessible, more accountable democratic systems in this state.'
Beth Messersmith, President of NCVCE, said the Council of State legislation would build on North Carolina's judicial public financing program, which has been in place since 2002 and was the first program of its kind in the nation. 'Just like our judicial program educates voters about our judicial candidates, this program would better educate voters about the role and function of our Council of State, 'Messersmith said. 'And just like our judicial program provides an alternative to lawyers funding our judicial campaigns, this bill would give citizens an alternative to our state's head regulators being funded by the groups they regulate.'
The bill was approved 28-19 today and if signed by the governor, will be available for the 2008 elections for these three offices.