Saturday, May 15, 2010


Will rich folks withholding money be as effective as rich folks giving money?

by Larry Geller

Public funding of elections has always been “the reform that makes other reforms possible.” Yet, in this post Citizens United era, the goal seems to be more elusive than ever.

Which is not to say that activists across the country are not working doubly hard to bring it about. Here in Hawaii we have Voter Owned Hawaii. This Huffington Post story describes how a number of rich donors are getting together to help make it happen at a Congressional level.

A group of 27 major donors is vowing to withhold campaign cash from lawmakers who stand in the way of legislation that would allow for public funding of congressional campaigns. Over their careers, the donors have contributed millions to Democratic candidates -- and, on limited occasions, Republicans or independents -- but they say they've had it. And they don't mind if it means a lack of access.

[Founders Alan Hassenfeld, the former chairman of Hasbro, and Arnold Hiatt, the former head of the Stride Rite Corporation]said they were sad to have to take the step. "If, 15 months into the Obama Administration, we were looking at a long list of accomplishments, with a long list of probable victories coming -- as many of us dreamed last November -- then we would not be asking you to take this step. But the picture is not nearly so promising because of the power of private money in the political system. We have all been part of that system. It is time for us to take the lead to change it," they wrote.   [Huffington Post, Donor Strike: Rich Progressives Pledge To Withhold Cash, 5/12/2010]

Can this work? Check out the story.


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