Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced new legislation that would reform the campaign finance system and help end the influence of big money in politics. Gillibrand’s Clean Elections Act would give every American citizen $200 in “Democracy Dollars” to donate to federal candidates each election. Federal candidates must agree not to accept donations over $200 in order to be eligible for “Democracy Dollars” donations.
“Elected leaders should be accountable to voters. This is a fundamental principle of our democracy and one of the most basic checks on political power, but it’s clear that special interest money and wealthy donors are a corrupting influence in politics. This is a disturbing reality, and we must fix it now and end the toxic influence of money in American elections,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to introduce the Clean Elections Act, a bill that would overhaul our campaign finance system and give every eligible American access to funds they can use to donate to federal candidates. This bill would let Americans across the country participate in the election process in a way that currently is out of reach for too many voters. The Clean Elections Act is what our democracy needs, and I urge all of my colleagues to fight with me to pass it.”
This legislation would be paid for by ending a current taxpayer loophole that rewards CEOs for excessive salaries. Closing this loophole would allow the Clean Elections program to be funded at $60 billion over ten years.
Specifically, Gillibrand’s Clean Elections Act would do the following:
- Provide every citizen $200 in Democracy Dollars, split evenly between the primary and general, per Federal race per two-year election cycle. Citizens would then be able to donate in $10 increments to any candidate they wish.
- Allow certified candidates to opt in and collect these Democracy Dollars if they meet certain thresholds and abide by strict donation limits, whereby they cannot collect any cash donation in excess of $200 from any one donor.
- Pay for the cost of the program by closing a tax loophole that subsidizes excessively high CEO compensation, defined as compensation that is the lower of $1 million or 25 times the median salary at the CEO’s company.
- Include strong anti-fraud and abuse provisions, including criminal penalties, to ensure accountability and transparency, and safeguard the integrity of the program.