Will Strengthen the Voice of Ordinary Citizens, Reform Campaign Finance, and Curb the Influence of Federal Lobbyists
(Manchester, NH) – Today, at a town hall in Keene, Senator John Edwards delivered a major policy address unveiling his proposal for Returning Washington to Regular People. Edwards’ three-pronged approach calls for strengthening the voice of ordinary citizens through election reform, reforming campaign finance to strengthen small donors, and ending the uniquepower of lobbyists.
“ The American people are sick and tired of business as usual,” said Edward s. “Lobbyists and the special interests they represent are pouring millions of dollars into the system, corrupting our democracy and stopping the change we need dead in its tracks. With all the money flooding into politics, you’d think that instead of holding elections we were auctioning our leaders off to the highest bidders. Our founding fathers intended our government to do the will of the people, but regular people can’t afford a voice intoday’s pay-to-play Washington.
“It’s time to put an end to the special deals enjoyed by lobbyists and insiders at the expense of regular Americans. We must strengthen voting and campaign finance laws and curb the influence of campaign contributions from special interests, so that everyone has a voice in the political process and the people decide who leads this nation.”
Edwards’ proposal to end the money game in Washington and return the power to the American people is focused on three main principles:
Reforming Campaign Finance to Strengthen Small Donors: John Edwards believes elections should be about ideas rather than money. Few Americans can afford to make $4,600 contributions to gain access to presidential candidates, and the integrity of our campaign financing system depends upon smaller donors continuing to play an important role in the political process. Edwards’ campaign is built upon the support of small donors – in fact, 93percent of the campaign’s donations come from donors contributing less than $100. As president, Edwards will create a new Grassroots Presidential Financing System to match small donations under $100 by eight to one, making two $100 donations as valuable to a campaign as a single $1,000 donation. He will also reduce the maximum contribution from $2,300 to $1,000 per person, to better reflect the incomes of most Americans. Edwards will create a system of full public financing for Congressional candidates and require corporations to disclose their political activity and spending.
Ending the Unique Power of Lobbyists: Edwards will prohibit all candidates and federal office holders from accepting contributions from lobbyists and will prohibit federal lobbyists from acting as fundraisers or bundlers for federal candidates. He will limit the ability of lobbyists to secure lucrative earmarks by enacting a Constitutional version of the line-item veto, where the president can require an up or down vote on special-interest spending. Edwards will close the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street by reinstating thefive-year ban on lobbying by former top government officials and by banning former lobbyists from taking executive branch positions related to their former clients. Finally, he will curb lobbyists’ influence by increasing disclosure requirements for lobbyist activity and by prohibiting government executives from accepting gifts and travel from lobbyists and their employers.
Strengthening the Voice of Ordinary Citizens: To ensure everyone’s vote is counted, Edwards will require that all voting machines, including electronic ones, use paper ballots that can be verified by voters. He will also give D.C. residents voting representation in Congress, allow Election Day Registration in federal elections, fight voter suppression and intimidation and end the disenfranchisement of former prisoners who have served their time. In order to increase citizen engagement, Edwards will ask one million citizens to participate inbiennial Citizen Congresses – national town hall meetings where regular Americans tackle national issues together, without the filters of interest groups and the media. Similar projects have given citizens a voice in community solutions across the country, including in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.