Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dodd's Retirement Highlights Untenable Campaign Finance Regime

/PRNewswire/ -- Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) retirement has led many observers to suggest that overhauling our financial system will be easier, a clear sign that our money-driven political system is broken, according to campaign finance watchdogs Public Campaign and Common Cause.

"As the Senate begins work on the financial system overhaul, a tough reelection battle would have had Sen. Dodd dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers with the same interests he would be working to regulate," said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign. "That it takes retirement to boost the likelihood of good policy is an indictment of our broken campaign financing system."

"It's a sad commentary that many think that Sen. Dodd's announced retirement will free him to act in the public interest, since he doesn't have to worry about special interest campaign donors," said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause. "We need a system that allows members of Congress to act in the public's interest at all times. It's time for Congress to change the way Washington works by passing the Fair Elections Now Act."

The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752, H.R. 1826) would give candidates for Congress the option to run a competitive race with a blend of small dollar donations and limited public funds. Sen. Dodd, a co-sponsor of the legislation, has long supported the measure. "Whether you're a Washington lobbyist or a Chicago lobbyist, what we ought to have is public financing for congressional and presidential campaigns. That would solve the whole problem," Sen. Dodd told an audience at the YearlyKos convention in 2007.

Sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), this legislation would put people in office unencumbered by special interest campaign cash. In addition to Rep. Larson, the House bill has the broad bipartisan and cross-caucus support of 124 co-sponsors.

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