Following the first-ever statewide win of public financing in Maine, Public Campaign is founded to galvanize support for small-donor public financing programs and pass laws across the country to give regular people a bigger voice in our elections.
In Congress, Public Campaign helps Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), along with Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), design and introduce national model legislation, the “Clean Money, Clean Elections Act,” in both the House and Senate.
With support from Public Campaign, Massachusetts and Arizona become the second and third states in the country to pass “Clean Elections” legislation that allowed legislative candidates to run for office on the strength of their grassroots support.
Public Campaign works with state activists to win new Clean Elections programs in North Carolina, New Mexico, and Portland, Ore. In 2005, with Public Campaign’s support, Connecticut becomes the first state in history to create a small-donor public financing program for all state offices through the legislative process. The program in Connecticut has been especially successful, with 80 percent of candidates from both parties regularly participating in it for their election campaigns.
Public Campaign Action Fund, Public Campaign’s political arm, launches its innovative “Reform Voter Project,” the first electoral effort aimed at defeating opponents of money-in-politics reform and elected champions. In a high-profile U.S. Senate race in Arkansas, RVP’s ads were credited with seriously damaging then-Senator Tim Hutchinson (R), who was the only incumbent Republican to lose a Senate race that year.
Public Campaign releases groundbreaking studies with the Fannie Lou Hamer Project and the Velasquez Institute showing that an elite set of wealthy, overwhelmingly white donors have undue influence in our politics. The reports were early proof that big money politics is inherently inequitable.
Public Campaign Action Fund drives former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay from office after a sustained, innovative campaign that included the famous “Daily DeLay” blog, and helps make corruption a major issue in 2006’s wave election. The Action Fund was the first national group to call for DeLay’s resignation in January 2005.
Through our Campaign Money Watch project, we educate voters about Sen. John McCain’s backtracking on his past support for campaign finance issues and the big influence of lobbyists in his presidential campaign.
As Democrats take control of both houses of Congress, Public Campaign Action Fund launches a campaign to move the Fair Elections Now Act. Through paid TV ads, grassroots organizing via a network of state groups in 18 states, and even a trolley tour of fundraisers with actors dressed as the founding fathers, we built the power necessary to pass the bill out of the House Rules Committee, the furthest public financing legislation had ever gone in Congress in almost 20 years.
Incubate and support the launch of Friends of Democracy, the first “super PAC to end the influence of super PACs,” which helped elect seven members of Congress, of the eight endorsed, who supported public financing for elections. Similarly, an effort organized as New York Friends of Democracy helped elected a State Senator by just 19 votes. The newly elected State Senator credited her position on reform as the key factor.
With a strong campaign and coalition led by state allies and Public Campaign Action Fund, Fair Elections gained momentum in New York State. The campaign included a massive grassroots coalition, television ads, celebrity endorsements, and came just one vote shy of passage in the State Senate.
Public Campaign became Every Voice, to better reflect our mission—fighting to make sure every voice is heard.
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduces the Government By The People Act, which would allow federal candidates to run with small donations that are matched with limited public funds.
And with grassroots and policy support from Every Voice, Montgomery County Council passes public financing legislation, allowing its 1 million residents to speak as loudly as big money developers and special interest.
Ballot initiatives creating or strengthening public financing programs in Seattle and Maine pass with overwhelming support. In addition to growing national attention for the initiatives, a dozen Every Voice staff were on the ground in the lead-up to Election Day knocking on doors and making calls to voters. Here’s a full rundown of the organization’s work on the initiatives.
“Every Voice was at the heart of our team,” Sarah Jaynes of the Progress Alliance of Washington said after the campaign. “They were an incredible national partner – providing support and strategic guidance, while being respectful of the local dynamics and particular insight of the on-the-ground partners in Seattle.”
Every Voice convenes the Fight Big Money Coalition, which led to every major Democratic presidential candidate and the Democratic Party platform endorsing public financing for elections. The Portland, Oregon City Council adopts a program to empower small donors, with policy, communications, and organizing support from Every Voice.
Every Voice will embed small-donor public financing into the progressive agenda at the state and local level, continue winning new reforms, and building momentum for a national victory and a reflective and accountable democracy.
Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.