Montgomery Co. Public Election Fund Successfully Encourages and Empowers Small Donors

Media Contacts
Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

COMING SOON: Matching Program for Small Contributions Delivers Promising Results

Maryland PIRG Foundation and Common Cause Maryland

WHAT: On Monday, January 29, Maryland PIRG Foundation and Common Cause Maryland will release a report on the initial success of the Montgomery County Public Election Fund. The report will look at  the fundraising trends for candidates using the small donor matching program and the trends of candidates not using the program.  

WHO: Maryland PIRG Foundation and Common Cause Maryland

WHEN: Digital Release, Monday, January 29, 2018 at 10:00, report will be available online.

REPORT BACKGROUND: On September 30th, 2014 the Montgomery County Council adopted the Public Election Fund, a small-donor matching fund program for candidates for County Council and County Executive. The program allows candidates for County Council or Executive who rely on small-dollar donations to run a competitive race by qualifying for limited matching funds.  

Participating candidates agree to accept only contributions individuals under  $150. Once they meet qualifying thresholds, these small donations are eligible for matching funds, with the smallest donations receiving the highest match. The program caps the total amount of matching funds a candidate can receive, but does not cap overall expenditures, allowing candidates to continue raising and spending small-dollar donations as needed.

ISSUE BACKGROUND: Our campaign finance system is broken. Wealthy donors and special interests have too much influence – not just over who wins elections, but over who is even able to run for office. The impact of that system is clearly seen, and felt, and the national level. But even in our state and local offices, the cost of running for office prevents candidates from running, alienates every day voters, and increases the access that large and corporate donors have once candidates take office.

There are two ways to fix our campaign finance system, and both are needed for real reform. On one hand we need stronger rules, stronger referees, to oversee the political game. Those rules need to address  the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions and strengthen our ability to regulate spending in campaigns. On the other hand, we also need small donor matching fund, or fair elections, programs to put more players in the game – to empower small donors to rebuild their democracy, open doors for diverse candidates to run for office, and give everyday people a stronger voice in the legislative process after Election Day is over.



Maryland PIRG Foundation is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being. 

Common Cause Maryland is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that works in the public interest, and empowering ordinary citizens to make their voices heard. Founded in 1974, Common Cause Maryland is one of the state’s most effective watchdog groups and has been a strong force for reform at the state and local levels.