158 Families Responsible for Half of All Campaign Giving

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The New York Times reports that just 158 families have provided nearly half of all early money in the 2016 presidential race. The report comes on the heels of a study by U.S. PIRG Education Fund which found that a small donor empowerment program could dramatically shift candidate fundraising tactics to refocus elections on regular Americans.

“If money is speech, then half of all the speech so far in this election belongs to just 158 families,” said Dan Smith, Democracy Program Director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “That’s not right. Americans from across the political spectrum are ready for reform, and it’s time that we start talking about solutions.”

“Small donor empowerment programs reduce the outsized influence of special interests and wealthy donors, putting regular voters back in control of our elections. Last month’s report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund showed that these programs don’t just work, they turn today’s big-money fundraising tactics on their head.”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s study examines the impact of a small donor matching system similar to those proposed in the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) and the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 1538). Both of these bills propose a program that would match small contributions with public funds at a rate of six-to-one or more, and establish lower maximum contribution limits for candidates who volunteer to participate and demonstrate viability by meeting qualifying thresholds for small donor fundraising. 

Click here for a copy of “Boosting the Impact of Small Donors: How Matching Funds Would Reshape the 2016 Presidential Election.”

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With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their own narrow agendas, U.S. PIRG Education Fund offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer Americans meaningful opportunities for civic participation.