Making Democracy Work
Money in Politics

Reduce influence of special interest money in politics, provide public financing for campaigns for some offices, ensure transparency, restore citizen confidence, and prevent conflicts of interest.

Issue Team Chair: Kathy Sakahara, 261-7797
 DOWNLOAD the Money in Politics Issue Paper

Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 

Bills That Need Action This Week

 Action Alert Ask your U.S. senator TODAY to support the For the People Act (S1). Return control of our government back where it belongs—into the hands of the people. In addition to the small donor empowerment section we highlighted last week, the For the People Act would overhaul the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission, which has failed to meaningfully enforce existing rules and would almost certainly struggle to implement other ambitious reforms. 

We are grateful for our Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and our support to keep them effective is  necessary. Get to know what they do by listening to this recording and viewing slides about them from Democracy Lobby Week.

Empowering Small Donors

The For the People Act would create a small-donor matching system for congressional races and revamp the matching system for presidential contests. Small-donor matching is an innovative reform that uses public funds to amplify small private donations. The bill would provide qualified presidential and congressional candidates with $6 in public funds for every $1 raised from small donors. The bill would create a Freedom from Influence Fund as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs, to be funded primarily by a small surcharge on criminal or civil penalties and settlements from corporations, corporate officers, or (in very limited cases) individual tax code violators who are in the top income bracket. A similar program has existed for decades in New York City and the state of Maine, where it has diversified the donor pool, helped candidates of modest means run for office, and allowed elected officials to spend more time talking to their constituents instead of dialing for dollars. 

The bill would establish a voucher pilot program in three states under which eligible voting-age citizens could request vouchers worth $25 and donate them to the congressional candidates of their choice. The City of Seattle implemented a voucher program for city elections in 2017. Preliminary research has shown that the program allows city candidates to raise more money from city residents, and has also broadened the city’s donor base to include more women, people of color, and non-wealthy residents. This subtitle would establish a voucher pilot program in three states under which eligible voting-age citizens could request vouchers worth $25 and donate them to the congressional candidates of their choice.

Seattle’s first of its kind innovative "democracy voucher" program helps diversify campaign donors and candidates and improves representation of Seattle residents. Other cities and jurisdictions across the country are looking to adopt similar programs. Here is a link to the recording of a program we did on this as part of Democracy Lobby Week.

Bills the League Supports That Missed the Cutoff

SB 5170 The Revolving Door bill would have established a one-year “cooling off” period before elected officials and high-level employees can work as a lobbyist influencing state public policy. Thirty-seven states, as well as the federal government, have cooling off period/revolving door laws. The disclosure required by this bill of post-employment income sources will strengthen transparency and confidence in the integrity of government. This bill remains on second reading by the Rules Committee which means it is dormant until January 2022.

Bills the League is Watching That Missed the Cutoff

SJM 8002 This bill requested an amendment to the U.S Constitution on campaign finance reform. The Senate Committee on State Government and Elections passed this bill on Feb. 5, 2021, and as of Feb. 8 was passed to the Rules Committee for a second reading, which means it is dormant until January 2022.

HB 1475
This bill would have permitted certain foreign nationals to participate in campaign finance decision-making and campaigns for and against ballot measures and initiatives. This bill would allow any foreign national individual or entity to contribute to election activities if they reside, work, or attend an in-state college. The bill also would remove the prohibition for ballot propositions. No action was taken on this bill in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.

Bills the League Opposes That Missed the Cutoff

SB 5109 This bill, which limits sanctions for campaign violations, would prohibit the attorney general from seeking to ban serious, repeated campaign finance law violators from participating in elections, including initiatives.

How to be Involved
  • Stay in contact with your Legislators.
  • Reply to Action Alerts.
  • Subscribe to the LWVWA Legislative newsletter so that you receive it weekly on Sundays during the session starting Jan. 10, 2021 and ending with a wrap up in May 2021.
  • Contact Cindy Madigan to volunteer. 
  • Would you like to learn more about the world of digital advertising? Check out this recording to explore best practices from national experts for improved reporting that can be consistently applied and transparent for both the regulated community and makes it easier for the public to understand who is behind the digital ads.

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