Campaign Update: Funding Fair Elections in Montgomery County

Last fall, the Montgomery County Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to establish a program to get big money out of local elections and empower small donors. Unfortunately, County Executive Leggett did not include funding for the program in the budget he released last month, so we're working to make sure the County Council fulfills their commitment to fund the program.

Last fall, the Montgomery County Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to establish a program to get big money out of local elections and empower small donors.

Unfortunately, County Executive Leggett did not include funding for the program in the budget he released last month, so we’re working to make sure the County Council fulfills their commitment to fund the program during budget negotiations. The Washington Post has already editorialized in support of funding the program, and hundreds of Montgomery County residents have contacted the council to show their support. We couldn’t agree more that it is critically important to get the program started with a strong first installment of funding in the coming fiscal year.

The rise of election spending by mega donors and corporations means candidates spend an increasing amount of time fundraising from big donors, giving them less time to hear from constituents.

The small donor program established by Montgomery County will elevate the voice of everyday citizens and reduce the influence of large donors by providing matching funds for small donors if the candidates don’t take large and corporate contributions.

Montgomery County took a big step in the right direction by passing a small donor incentive program that encourages candidates to spend time fundraising from small donors within their constituency rather than dialing for big dollars.

We have an incredible opportunity to start restoring our democracy, but it will only work if we start funding the program now.

We’ll be in Rockville for the 5 public hearings on the budget and for the Government Operations Committee meeting. We’ll be testifying at Thursday afternoon’s hearing. If you’d like to, you can join us in Rockville to show your support:

Public Hearings
Tuesday, April 14 at 7pm
Wednesday, April 15 at 1pm and 7pm
Thursday, April 15 at 1pm and 7pm
The Gov Operations Committee will meet Thursday, April 16, starting at 9:30am.
WHERE: County Council Offices, 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville MD. 3rd Floor Hearing Room for public hearings, 7th Floor Hearing room for GO committee
More details here.

You can also follow along on Twitter, @MarylandPIRG will be posting updates and the hashtag is #FairElectionsMD.

If you are a Montgomery County resident you can also show your support by sending a message to the County Council.

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Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.

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