A bill to reform the financing of Senate elections, and for other purposes. Read More


This bill was introduced on Apr 6, 2011, in a previous session of Congress, but was not passed.

Bill Text


To reform the financing of Senate elections, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


(a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Fair Elections Now Act''. (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as follows:


Subtitle A--Fair Elections Financing Program

Sec. 101. Findings and declarations. Sec. 102. Eligibility requirements and benefits of Fair Elections financing of Senate election campaigns. ``TITLE V--FAIR ELECTIONS FINANCING OF SENATE ELECTION CAMPAIGNS

``Subtitle A--General Provisions

``Sec. 501. Definitions. ``Sec. 502. Fair Elections Fund. ``Subtitle B--Eligibility and Certification

``Sec. 511. Eligibility. ``Sec. 512. Qualifying contribution requirement. ``Sec. 513. Contribution and expenditure requirements. ``Sec. 514. Debate requirement. ``Sec. 515. Certification. ``Subtitle C--Benefits

``Sec. 521. Benefits for participating candidates. ``Sec. 522. Allocations from the Fund. ``Sec. 523. Matching payments for qualified small dollar contributions. ``Sec. 524. Political advertising vouchers. ``Subtitle D--Administrative Provisions

``Sec. 531. Fair Elections Oversight Board. ``Sec. 532. Administration provisions. ``Sec. 533. Violations and penalties. Sec. 103. Prohibition on joint fundraising committees. Sec. 104. Exception to limitation on coordinated expenditures by political party committees with participating candidates. TITLE II--IMPROVING VOTER INFORMATION

Sec. 201. Broadcasts relating to all Senate candidates. Sec. 202. Broadcast rates for participating candidates. Sec. 203. FCC to prescribe standardized form for reporting candidate campaign ads. TITLE III--RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FEDERAL ELECTION...

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State: CA

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District: 1st

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Organizations Supporting

The Fair Elections Now Act would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small donations from people back home. Fair Elections Now Act would let members of Congress focus on their constituents instead of raising money from lobbyists or other special interests. Candidates would raise donations of $100 or less from their home state, which would be matched on a five-to-one basis.

Public Campaign 4 years ago

By creating a voluntary alternative to the big money chase, this legislation will free up candidates for office to spend more time hearing from small business owners and other constituents in their districts, and less time courting the favor of deep-pocketed special interests. It will ensure that the winners of elections will be free to champion the concerns of their constituents, not hamstrung by the need to pay back favors to big money donors. And it will restore faith in the integrity of our democracy.

Main Street Alliance 4 years ago

The Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1404, S. 750) would fight corruption by enabling candidates for Congress to run viable campaigns based on small-dollar donations from real people, matched by public funds, so they could avoid taking cash from corporate lobbyists, CEOs and other special interests. Instead of spending time asking for money from lobbyists and corporate special interest groups, candidates for elected office would be able focus their attention on voters in the communities they represent. In the wake of the unlimited corporate spending allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Fair Elections Now Act is a particularly essential reform.

Public Citizen 4 years ago

Statement by Bob Edgar on introduction of Fair Elections Now Act Today’s introduction of the Fair Elections Now Act offers Congress a chance to spare itself and the country from an all-consuming chase for special interest campaign contributions in 2012. By letting candidates run on a mix of small donations from individuals and matching public funds, this legislation would put participating candidates in closer touch with the people they hope to represent and break the grip big-money interests have on our political system. It’s time to get it passed.

Common Cause 4 years ago

Providing public financing for federal elections is a necessary, effective, and constitutional response to last year’s game-changing Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The Fair Elections Now Act fights corruption and the appearance of corruption by reducing elected officials’ dependence on large donors. It encourages constituent-focused campaigns, and increases the power and participation of small donors in elections. Ultimately, public financing restores voters to their central role in our democracy. With Citizens United, the age-old problem of big money in politics has reached a historic inflection point. In that case, the Court overturned decades of law restricting corporate campaign spending. In doing so, the Court re-ordered the priorities in our democracy—amplifying special interests while displacing the voices of the voters. The 2010 midterm elections gave us a preview of what we can expect in 2012, and beyond. In the first post-Citizens United election, tens of millions of dollars from corporate treasuries were spent to influence the electoral process, leaving voters and grassroots groups consigned to the political margins. Many big spenders—including corporate interests—were able to shield their identities through gaping loopholes in federal disclosure law. In fact, 35 percent of all independent spending was done in the dark.


The Fair Elections Now Act would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists. Instead, candidates would be freed from constant fundraising to focus on what people in their communities want. The Fair Elections Now Act may be the only real remedy to Citizens United, last year’s Supreme Court decision that left the electorate at the mercy of corporate America’s financial largess, greatly diminishing the integrity of both our elections and elected officials. It would not be hyperbolic in the least to suggest one of the best ways to restore democracy -- even in the midst of an avalanche of special interest money – is through public financing. As Brennan Center and campaign finance expert Monica Youn testified today, “by allowing candidates to run viable campaigns through reliance on small donations and public funds alone, public financing reduces the threat that big money will have a corrupting influence [both perceived and actual] on the political process.” The experience of states that have adopted similar laws shows, such laws promote robust competition for public office. In Maine, for example, a fair elections law increased participation by first-time candidates, allowed more challengers to compete, provided more choices to voters, and sharply reduced large private contributions. Similarly, in Arizona the average number of candidates for state office has increased 23% since the law’s passage in 2000. An added benefit is that women and minorities are more likely to run in elections when such a funding mechanism is available.

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Organizations Opposing

CCP's poll found that Americans do not support tax funding for political candidates, and that the level of intensity shifts based on the wording of the question. The poll of 1,000 adults was developed in collaboration with University of Missouri professor Jeff Milyo and was conducted in October by YouGov as part of the recently released 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a multi-university research partnership. "Promoters of tax financed campaigns tout many supposed benefits such as increased competition, greater candidate diversity, less corruption and reduced interest group influence, but no credible research supports those claims," said Center for Competitive Politics Vice President Allison Hayward. "Americans are leery of a billion dollar bailout for politicians based on the unproven assumptions of Washington, D.C. interest groups."


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Bill Summary

A bill to reform the financing of Senate elections, and for other purposes.

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