Jonathan Soros, son of progressive billionaire investor George Soros, is among a group of 60 wealthy Democratic donors who signed a letter to members of Congress calling for taxpayer-financed political campaigns.
“We urge you to fix today’s broken campaign finance laws. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake,” the letter said. “We who sign this letter raise and give substantial sums for elections. The influence that people like us have will be curtailed by the changes we seek, but our democracy must return to the First Amendment principle that all Americans, not just the wealthy, must have their voices heard.”
Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as the court heard arguments on campaign finance. (AP/Susan Walsh)
Some of the other signatories include Craigslist founder Craig Newmark; Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen; Democratic mega-bundler Naomi Aberly, who raised $500,000 for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign; tech executive David DesJardins, who gave about $1 million to Democratic campaigns in 2012; and businessman Arnold Hiatt, Politico reported.
The letter was coordinated by three pro-public financing groups: Public Campaign Action Fund, Voices for Progress and the Jonathan Soros-founded Friends of Democracy, and correlates with the introduction of the “Government by the People Act” in the House, sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.).
Sarbanes and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week co-wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post explaining the legislation, while urging Congress to “amend the Constitution to reverse the grievous error of the Citizens United decision.”
The letter from wealthy Democratic donors made no mention of constitutional amendment, and insisted that any new public financing law “[pass] constitutional muster by expanding political speech for millions of Americans.”
The letter said that in the 2012 election cycle, “just 32 super PAC donors spent more to influence the 2012 presidential election than 3.7 million Americans combined.”
The Sarbanes bill would use tax dollars to match small donations of less than $150 to House candidates at a 6-1 ratio, according to Public Campaign. Thus, a $50 contribution would mean $350 for a candidate. The bill wouldn't impact Senate races. For candidates who agree only to accept small donations, the ratio increases to 9-1 for taxpayer funding.
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