Montgomery County Executive Leggett Funds Fair Elections Program as Candidates Line up to Participate

Media Contacts
Emily Scarr

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

Maryland PIRG and Fair Elections Maryland Coalition

Fair Elections Maryland, a coalition of organizations working to establish small donor funding for local and statewide elections, issued the following statement in response to the release of Executive Leggett’s FY2018 today:
(Rockville) – Montgomery County Executive released his FY18 budget on Tuesday, which included $4 million for the Public Campaign fund. This critical investment brings the total funding for the program to $10 million, falling just short of the $11 million recommended by the independent commission established to make funding recommendations.

“Montgomery County made history by establishing the first program in Maryland for small-donor fair elections,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “We applaud the Council for their persistent support of the program and are glad the County Executive has come through with funding to ensure the program can succeed.”

The FY18 budget is the last opportunity to ensure funding for the program, which will be operative during the 2018 elections for races for County Executive and County Council. Already, 8 candidates have filed intent to qualify for the program. Participating candidates must only except donations of $150 or less and cannot accept any contributions from corporations, unions, or PACs. Once they meet qualifying thresholds, small donations will be matched with limited public dollars.

“In our democracy, the depth of your pocket should not dictate the volume of your voice,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “We’re thrilled that candidates are beginning to file as Fair Elections candidates, committing to build support from the people they seek to represent, not corporate interests.”

Concerned citizens had testified at the budget town halls hosted by the County Executive, calling on him to put $5 million into the budget to fund fair elections (the Public Election Fund). Now that he has released his budget it will be up to the County Council to find the remaining $1 million.

“The community has been clear at these town halls; they support the Fair Elections program and want it fully funded to fulfil its promise.” said Larry Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland.

Fair Elections Maryland includes Common Cause Maryland, Progressive Maryland, League of Conservation Voters, Every Voice, Maryland PIRG and many more state and local organizations.