WHAT IS D.C. FAIR ELECTIONS?
The D.C. Fair Elections Coalition was founded in 2015 to advance the D.C. Fair Elections bill, which would establish a small donor empowerment program for D.C. elections. The bill was introduced in March of 2017 with 10 co-sponsors, including Councilmembers David Grosso, Charles Allen, Robert White, Kenyan McDuffie, Trayon White, Sr., Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Phil Mendelson and Anita Bonds.
Small donor empowerment programs provide public matching funds to candidates who only accept small contributions, rather than relying on wealthy donors and special interests to bankroll their campaigns. This way, candidates can run for office, and win, even if they don’t have access to wealthy friends or a message that appeals to wealthy donors.
It’s no secret that our democracy is out of balance in D.C. These days, it is all but impossible to run for office without relying on big checks from wealthy donors and special interests. More than 60% of campaign contributions in recent cycles come from either non-District residents or corporations, while only 5% of campaign contributions come from D.C. residents giving $100 or less.
Why does this matter? Policy bends in the direction of those who fund campaigns. Right now, D.C.’s donor class is older, whiter, wealthier, and more male than our population as a whole. More than 62% of Council and Mayoral donors are white, compared to 37% of D.C.’s population.
When candidates spend their time fundraising from wealthy donors and big corporations, who don’t represent the diversity of the district, they aren’t hearing the concerns of everyday residents, who are concerned about skyrocketing rents and making a decent living. Too often, the priorities of big developers and other special interests are reflected in local policy, rather than the needs and concerns of D.C. voters.
Small donor empowerment is a proven solution, designed to amplify the voices of average people. A similar program in New York City has successfully increased both the number and diversity of small donors in their City Council elections. And public financing of elections has recently been introduced in Maine and Seattle.
Now, we’re working to bring this solution to Washington, D.C.
WHO IS THE D.C. FAIR ELECTIONS COALITION?
DC For Responsible Development