Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Aren't publicly funded elections a waste of taxpayers’ money!
If our only concern was money, we could really save taxpayers a lot of money by allowing the special interests who pay for a candidate's campaign to also pay for our Senator’s salary, and for his or her staff’s salary, for their offices, transportation, living expenses in DC, etc. These interests would be more than happy to pay and for all the same reasons they are willing to pay for our Senator’s re-election campaign. They are giving a little, to get a lot. They calculate that if they can spend some money now to keep your Senator in office, they will reap much larger rewards in the future by being able to influence decisions made by Congress.
In the end, we, the citizens, end up paying much more than we would if we recognized that paying for election campaigns, like paying congressional salaries, is one of the costs of being a self-governing people. [modified from CitizenFundedElections.org]
How can you possibly get enough signatures?
We can get enough signatures if we can mobilize citizens across Colorado to express their dis-satisfaction with what our state government is currently doing by signing our petition for initiative # 53.
Why require a Colorado Constitutional Amendment?
The manner of financing Colorado elections is a fundamental safeguard of our Democratic process and should not be changed without approval of Colorado voters.
Statutes are subject to change by legislators. In Maine, defenders of the clean election statute must fight back bad bills that try to gut reform every election cycle.
Following is a response from Maine Citizens for Clean Elections regarding continuing challenges to their statute:
Is $5 to $10 dollars really enough to finance Colorado campaigns?
Based on the experience of Arizona, Connecticut and Maryland, we think so. While all individual and joint taxpayers must contribute to to funding the campaigns to elect our leaders, candidates are not required to participate in our publicly funded elections and some will not participate.
Colorado is hard-pressed to fund schools, roads and other important projects - why choose to fund Colorado elections at this time?
The way we elect our leaders is fundamental to our form of representative government and influences how we allocate our resources. Public funding, principally with a nominal tax on each individual and joint tax return, is ultimately more cost-effective than high-cost campaigns, the costs of which are ultimately passed on to Coloradans in the form of policy written by big money interests to trump the public interest. Ultimately costs are shifted to taxpayers/consumers.
Why not use strict matching funds - match to a Clean Campaigns candidate every dollar that a traditional candidate spends?
Recent 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court and federal court decisions around campaign election funding have been framed to advantage the wealthy, e.g., equating money with free speech – i.e., those with large sums of money enjoy unlimited free speech. Efforts to level the playing field by matching funds for candidates has been ruled by some courts "unconstitutional" and a "chilling" of First Amendment rights of the wealthiest candidates.
Based on the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the "Millionaires Amendment" (part of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform meant to level the financial playing field), in January 2010 the Federal Court struck down Arizona's "matching funds" clause that was written to level the playing field by triggering matching funds for "clean candidates" when they run against traditional candidates who raise large sums from donors, or if a special-interest group spends money to oppose a "clean" candidate. The Arizona decision around matching funds has been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco.
The U.S. Supreme Court further unleashed unlimited election spending by corporations in the 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The ruling grants corporations the same First Amendment free-speech rights as individuals, again equating unlimited campaign spending to free speech, thereby greatly tilting the political playing field in favor of "big money" corporations.
Colorado Initiative 53 is written to provide each "clean candidate" with funding equal to the average cost of winning campaigns over the previous two election cycles in her/his district, plus a limited number of small contributions collected by candidates as seed money.
If you are willing to help cover some of our costs - even a little will help - we are volunteers:
Please make checks payable to Clean Campaigns Colorado
and mail them to: James K. Hoffmeister, 2400 Park Lake Drive, Boulder, CO 80301 - thank you !