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Watchdog Scores Candidates on Money-in-Politics Reform: Sanders Leads the Pack with Clinton and O’Malley Close Behind

January 29, 2016 | Laura Friedenbach

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders tops the class with an A- in a new scorecard on money-in-politics reform policies released today by Every Voice, a national organization working to give everyday people a bigger voice in politics. His Democratic opponents, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Governor Martin O’Malley, follow closely behind with scores of B+. A handful of Republicans received grades of D-.

The scorecard, the first of its kind from a national money-in-politics group in the post-Citizens United era, will allow voters to see where candidates stand on an issue Americans overwhelmingly agree on—that our political system too often benefits the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

“Throughout this presidential election, many candidates—Democrats and Republicans—have talked about the problem of our broken campaign finance system, but few have offered real, concrete solutions to address the issue,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “Voters overwhelmingly support changes to the system, and this scorecard provides a tool for the public to see who sides with them and who sides with the money-drenched status quo.” 

Click here to see the candidates’ scores. An interactive version of the scorecard will also be available online soon at FightBigMoney.com. 

The candidates’ performance is scored based on a blend of support for specific policies as well as actions to champion these plans. The policy platforms are graded in comparison to the Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda, a comprehensive guide released in July and sent to every presidential campaign by over a dozen of the top national money-in-politics reform organizations. 

Importantly, this scorecard recognizes that policy papers on a website aren’t enough. Additional points were added for candidates who champion these policies on the campaign trail and offer commitments to implementation if elected. Some credit is also given to candidates who support policies not in the agenda but aimed at reducing the influence of special interests in politics, such as lobbying reforms. Since reducing the influence of money in our politics is a challenge that requires systematic change, points were not awarded or withheld in response to how candidates chose to finance their own campaigns. A grade on this scorecard does not equal or imply an endorsement by Every Voice.

“Every candidate has room to grow, and we are willing to update these grades as we progress through the nomination process,” Donnelly said. “We encourage voters to look at candidate’s grades right up until they attend a caucus or cast their ballots.”

An interactive website accompanying the scorecard will be released in the coming days. 

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Every Voice is a national nonpartisan organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone. Learn more at everyvoice.org.