Big Money Out

Anne Arundel County Council hears bill for small door public financing

micheile dot com | TPIN

The Anne Arundel County Council held a hearing for Council Bill 25-23 on Monday night to establish a program for small donor public financing for races for County Council and County Executive. The bill is modeled after the success of similar programs in the state and country, with adjustments to meet needs of Anne Arundel County races.

About a dozen members of the public testifying in support of the bill, including Maryland PIRG, Common Cause Maryland, and the League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County.

This bill creates a voluntary program which enables candidates to run for office with small donations from their constituents and remaining competitive with those who accept large and corporate contributions. This serves the dual purpose of reducing corporate and large donor campaign spending and re-engaging the community in the electoral process. And with a Fair Election program in place, we hope to expand opportunities to run for office, so candidates of all backgrounds can run based on the strength of their ideas, not access to money.

In Montgomery County’s first election using the system, Maryland PIRG Foundation research found that candidates who qualified received nearly twice as many donations from Montgomery County residents than those not participating in the program and had an average contribution under $100 compared to over $1000 for traditionally funded candidates.

During the hearing, the County Council debated 15 substantive amendments, with all but one being rejected or withdrawn. The Council we take back up the amended bill during their meeting on June 5th.

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