Campaign Finance Reform Groups to 'Fight Money with Money'

Image: Campaign Finance Reform Groups to 'Fight Money with Money' Harvard law professor and founder of the Mayday PAC Lawrence Lessig. (Brad Barket/Stringer/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 07:58 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Several new PACs are working to dilute the influence of big money in campaigns by backing candidates who would encourage ordinary Americans to donate more, The New York Times reported.

The groups want to create common ground between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who agree that big money has become a problem in campaigns.

Mayday PAC will back candidates of either party that support reducing the influence of major donors.

Any candidate who favors the Government by the People Act, introduced by Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland or the Citizen Involvement in Campaigns Act introduced by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Petri, can obtain Mayday's backing — or avoid being targeted in its forthcoming $12 million advertising campaign. Both bills offer tax credits or vouchers to small contributors.

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, a co-founder of the Mayday PAC said, "Inside-the-Beltway people don't think this issue matters, they don't think voters vote on the basis of this issue, and they advise their politicians not to talk about it." Mark McKinnon, who worked for president George W. Bush and is also a co-founder added, "We think this issue does matter, and we want to prove it."

They say ordinary Republicans— including those with tea party leanings— are more concerned about the issue than party leaders.

The PAC has raised money from big donors like Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn, as well as through crowd funding from small donors. "Embrace the irony," said Lessig about spending big money to oppose big money in politics.

Mayday PAC is supporting Jim Rubens in the New Hampshire GOP senatorial primary over Scott Brown. In Iowa, the group is backing Democrat Staci Appel for an open congressional seat.

Democrats had sought to limit campaign spending by amending the Constitution in response to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, while Republicans have opposed limiting campaign spending on free speech grounds.

Mayday and other PACS such as Every Voice— which will work the issue on the state level— is not seeking to restrict spending but rather promoting ways to prompt more small donors to enter the fray and in this way lessen the impact of big contributors.

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