Ohioans need to know how candidates will fight big money
By Catherine Turcer
Ohioans are gearing up for what will likely be the most expensive election in history. Over $18 million has already been spent by outside groups in this year’s race for the U.S. Senate race between Senator Rob Portman and former Governor Ted Strickland. That’s more than five times the total amount of outside money spent during Sen. Portman’s first senate race in 2010.
We all pay the price when wealthy special interest groups are able to dump unlimited amounts of money in elections. It’s the big donors who will get to set policy priorities and big money that creates barriers for everyday Ohioans interested in running for office. The voices of ordinary voters will be drowned out.
As political spending and the power of big donors have increased, voters have come to a consensus about the need to reform our democracy. Simply put, the debate over the problem of money in politics is over.
Voters across the political spectrum agree that the time is now to reform our democracy so it works for ordinary Americans, not just wealthy special interests. Polls have shown that the vast majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents want to change the way political campaigns are funded and limit the power of big money in elections.
Now is the time for candidates for public office to tell voters how they will fix the problem. Candidates for Congress in Ohio have the opportunity to tell voters where they stand on democracy reform through the Fight Big Money campaign at WhoWillFightBigMoney.org.
Organized by a nonpartisan democracy reform coalition, the Fight Big Money campaign asks candidates where they stand on an agenda based on five simple democracy principles: everyone participates; everyone’s voice is heard; everyone knows who is trying to influence our votes and our representatives; everyone plays by fair, common sense rules; and everyone is held accountable, with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.
Voters need to know where candidates stand on democracy solutions, such as establishing a small-donor public financing system, protecting the right to vote, strengthening transparency in political spending, and overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.
This agenda and these solutions are common sense, and have been passed and tested in states across the country, often with bipartisan support. In states like Connecticut and Maine, citizen-funded election programs have encouraged more small-donor participation and broken down barriers for everyday people to run for public office. Other states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have passed strong disclosure legislation to ensure voters know who is really funding secret money political groups.
Voters are eager for real solutions to solve the very real problem of big money in politics and fix our out-of-balance democracy. The growing democracy movement has shown that a government of, by, and for the people is possible. Now it’s time for Sen. Portman, Gov. Strickland, and all candidates for congress to tell voters if they are committed to making every voice heard in our government.
Catherine Turcer is a policy analyst at Common Cause Ohio, a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.